*Book source ~ Many thanks to Entangled for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Sheri and Dani have been in the foster care system since their parents were killed. Sheri is a bit of a rebel who loves stories and she’ll do anything to protect her little sister. When the zombie apocalypse begins Sheri packs up supplies and a shotgun, steals her foster brother’s motorcycle and takes off with Dani. For five years they survive until one day Aleksy comes across the mountain cabin they’re living in while he’s out scouting for supplies and offers to take them back to his Midwestern mountain range fortress where he and some others are protected from the infected. Sheri agrees for Dani’s sake, but once inside the fortress the others discover Sheri has a zombie bite. She’s bitten, yet she hasn’t turned. Aleksy always kills the infected. What is he going to do about Sheri?
This is a retelling of Arabians Nights set in a post-apocalyptic world filled with zombies. I love stories about unusual characters and this story delivers. Sheri is a rebel yet she loves stories. She reads whatever she can get her hands on, but her real talent is in the telling. When Aleksy reluctantly decides he must kill her he’s on his way to her cage when he hears her telling Dani a story of the Beauty and the Beast with Aleksy as the Beast and Sheri as the Beauty. He’s hooked. For four months Sheri tells him stories while chained to his bedroom wall and he occasionally lets her out of the fortress to search for books in libraries and supplies they can use.
Despite having been bitten multiple times, Sheri has not turned. She’s pale as death, doesn’t menstruate, is strong and fast with excellent sight and hearing and yet she’s still a living breathing human, not a zombie. I would have liked to know more about why she hadn’t turned, though I’m sure the characters are just as confused as I am. What has kept her human? The way she treated her bites? Her genetic make up? Her very active brain? A combination of many things? We don’t know. Aleksy’s treatment of her is cruel, but he doesn’t want to be. Conflicted much? This is a great short story that would have been awesome as a longer version with more detail.