I was asked by Scott Lambridis at Omibucket to review their zombie anthology/art book "Brainchild" that I purchased from them a few months ago. Well, I've finally finished it. It wasn't that it took me a long time to read through, it just took a long time to get around to. Once I picked it up today I didn't put it down until I was finished. It's an excellent, although a bit short, book and work of art.
First, let me talk about the books physical structure.
It's 55 pages long (not counting covers, cover page, two contributor pages and two pages of ads that no doubt helped to defray the cost of publication) and is a mixture of short stories and artwork. Like nearly everything, it's not entirely perfect. The book has a nice feel to it and the only structural complaints I have with it are its soft cover and the binding. It really deserves to have a stronger cover, and after one read-through I've noticed the binding beginning to split between the contributor pages in the back. I handle all of my books with care and never press them out flat while reading, however between those pages it looks as though I have. Perhaps my copy is a fluke. However, these two things do not detract much from my enjoyment of the book.
Next, since I'm more of an artist than I am a writer, I'll talk about the art contained within the book starting with page 1. I absolutely love that image. It was what sold me on pre-ordering the book before I'd read much else about it. It was an excellent choice for the cover and a great visual to sell the book around. The artist is David Senecal, and although I'm not familiar with him I really enjoy his style. He has several illustrations throughout the book and they were all done well. I also would have liked to have seen more by artist Daniel Williams whose sole contribution to the book appears on page 3. It was spiffy and disturbing at the same time. The page treatments used throughout were done well and add wonderfully to the whole feel. The illustrations were well placed between and throughout the stories so that they complimented, rather than conflicted with, the stories.
Now on to the stories. There wasn't a single bad one that comes to mind. Personally I was quite pleased with the two stories by Rebecca Brock since I had really enjoyed her previous story "Ground Floor" from the 'Cold Flesh' anthology and I was also immensely happy with David Wellington's appearance in this book. I'm a big fan of his online "Monster" trilogy. With the exception of those two authors' stories the rest were at most two pages and more often a single page long. They were like tiny glimpses into a terrible event, as I'm sure was the intention. The only exception to this is also my only complaint about the written portion of this book. The story "My Zombie Girlfriend: On the Female Undead in Film and Literature" by Mia Epstein, while interesting, well written, and four pages long, felt entirely out of place in this collection. Perhaps it was simply the decision to place it near the middle of the book that caused me to feel this way. It may have been better as a front or end piece. When I hit it, it felt like a forced intermission or a commercial. The rest of the stories felt like short tales of survivors – or near survivors in most cases – of a zombie outbreak. "My Zombie Girlfriend" is essentially an essay that takes a serious look at gender roles in zombie entertainment. A very odd choice to include.
In the end, if the book had just been stories or just been art I might not have felt as though my money was well spent. As it is I'm quite satisfied and don't hesitate to recommend it to other fans of the zombie sub-genre.
You can find a link to the book here: http://www.omnibucket.com/ (browse through "Releases")