Shakespeare Undead

( 12 )


Something wicked this way comes . . . and it keeps coming and coming and coming. . . .

William Shakespeare was one of history’s greatest writers, a master of words with a body of work that is truly impressive . . . some may say a little too impressive for a single man to accomplish in one lifetime. Perhaps, as many have speculated, he had ...

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Shakespeare Undead

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Something wicked this way comes . . . and it keeps coming and coming and coming. . . .

William Shakespeare was one of history’s greatest writers, a master of words with a body of work that is truly impressive . . . some may say a little too impressive for a single man to accomplish in one lifetime. Perhaps, as many have speculated, he had assistance. Or perhaps the explanation is more . . . unusual. 

Who was William Shakespeare?

Who was the Dark Lady of the Sonnets?

Why are the undead stalking the alleyways of London?

And can they be stopped?

Something is definitely rotten in the state of Denmark. 

So brace yourself for a wild ride through twisted streets and shadowed graveyards of Elizabethan London, where you’ll discover how the Bard got his Bite. 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this rather clumsy historical mashup, bestseller Handeland (Chaos Bites) pairs zombies and vampires with another perennially popular figure: Shakespeare. Zombies have invaded 1592 London and it’s up to William Shakespeare, whose genius with a quill comes from his extended life as a vampire, to stop them. Aided by Katherine, a zombie hunter to whom he is consummately, perilously attracted (and who bears considerable similarity to Viola in the film Shakespeare in Love, down to her horrible fiancé and goofy nurse), Will is soon embroiled in a mysterious plot that endangers all of London. Handeland blends Elizabethan and contemporary language skillfully and mostly unobtrusively, and the romance sizzles between the intriguing leads. Unfortunately, the novel is hampered by excessive shout-outs to the Shakespearean canon and a rushed ending. (June)
Library Journal
In this delightful literary mashup by two-time RITA Award winner Handeland (Blue Moon; The Mommy Quest), Shakespeare in Love meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the quick wit and dark humor we expect from the master himself. Our tale begins as Will finds himself murdered by a young man who mistakes him for a zombie. But the Bard can't be killed by normal means. Compelled to learn more about the youth who nearly took his head, Will discovers the truth beneath the chasseur's disguise. Vampire necromancers and zombies riddle this romantic tale of London's great poet and his mysterious muse, the Dark Lady; it is also splattered with seamless nods to contemporary pop culture—Obi Wan, Dorothy, and her little dog, too, add to the merriment as the adventure unfolds. VERDICT Handeland's foray onto the monster-lit stage deserves a standing ovation. Sure to appeal to fans of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Jane Slayre, but paranormal romance fans will cheer the loudest. [Library marketing campaign.]—Jennifer Anderson, Texas A&M Univ., Corpus Christi Lib.
Kirkus Reviews
The Bard struggles with madness and monsters in this risque literary burlesque from paranormal romanticist Handeland (Apocalypse Happens, 2009, etc.). As one of his famous creations might note, the William Shakespeare who creeps through this book is well-armed with "[t]houghts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time agreeing." Indeed, Hamlet's inner demons are no match for Will's as he struggles with vampirism. The novel opens in 1592 in London's Southwark neighborhood. Shakespeare walks through the shadows, only to get his throat sliced from ear to ear by young Katherine, an amateur chasseur (French for "hunter") trained by her Haitian nanny to stalk and kill the undead. But Shakespeare is hardier than he seems and soon thrusts himself upon the boy he believes Katherine to be. (Academics across the world just punched the air in triumph.) It turns out that Shakespeare has quite the long history, which leads to some laugh-out-loud moments. Immediately after kissing his newly discovered "Dark Lady," Will muses, "The last time he'd felt like this about a woman, he'd lost her. First to Caesar, then to Antony, then to an asp." For the most part, the book is shameless fun, with a decent grounding in the Bard's work-the denouement echoes Romeo & Juliet-and a crisp, humorous bite. It's when Handeland indulges her romance background that the novel suffers: "He would lick that skin; he would let the heat of her wash over him, then bask in that heat like a cat in the morning rays of the sun." Ouch. Christopher Moore does much better work with both vampires and Shakespeare, but this bawdy send-up should slake the thirst of mash-up lovers a little longer.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312641528
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 6/8/2010
  • Series: Shakespeare Undead Series , #1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,013,139
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Lori Handeland is the USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of the Nightcreature Novels, The Phoenix Chronicles and Shakespeare Undead. She is the recipient of many industry awards, including two RITA awards, a Romantic Times Award for Best Harlequin Superromance, and the Prism Award from Romance Writers of America. She lives in Wisconsin with her family and a yellow lab named Ellwood.

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Read an Excerpt

“Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t.”

Hamlet (Act II, Scene II)


London, Autumn-1592                                

What was left of the man shambled into the dark alley, and I followed.  I had little choice.

I am a chasseur, a hunter.  What I hunt are those whose souls are controlled by another.  I call them the tibonage.

You’d call them zombies.

Yes, they exist.  All over the damn place.

Tonight they existed in Southwark, and it was my job to make sure they didn’t crack open someone’s head and make a feast of their brains.  The only way to do that was to kill them first. 

The tibonage dragged his feet through the muck, intent on something in the distance.  This is the nature of the zombie.  They are raised for a reason; they have a mission.  Nothing will stop them from completing it.

Except me.

“Halt!” I shouted.  The tibonage didn’t even glance my way. 

Definitely on a mission.  Weren’t we all?

I hurried after, careful to remain far enough away that the zombie couldn’t spin and grab me.  Considering they’re the walking dead, the tibonage are faster than one might think, and if prevented from completing their assignment they fight like baited bears. 

As soon as I came within a sword’s length, I planted my feet and drew my weapon, wincing when the slick, slide sliced through the still air.  The tibonage froze; then slowly he turned.

I should have cut off his head right then.  If I had, I never would have seen his face in the silvery glow of the moon.

Instead, I whispered, “Chalmers?”

One of our servants.  He’d died only last week.

Hair still well groomed, nails too, skin a wee bit gray but not terribly so.  There wasn’t a hole in him anywhere there shouldn’t be.  I’d have thought him alive, if it weren’t for the smell.  I wrinkled my nose.

He was dead all right. 

The zombie yanked me close, his teeth clacking together inches from my nose.  I dropped the sword and shoved against his chest.  Beneath my palms, his skin squirmed.  A maggot peeked past the collar of his dusty doublet and winked.

“Erk!” I shrieked, and jerked my hands away.  This only allowed the tibonage to pull me ever closer.

“Br-br-br,” he chanted, in between the clicking of teeth.  “Mmmm,” he growled low.  “Mmmm.”

He obviously hadn’t had his daily supply of br-br-br—

“Brains,” I snapped, annoyed at both myself for not killing him and him for being unable to articulate a simple word.  “If you could say brains, you might actually possess enough of them to get some.”

Talking to a zombie was almost as foolish as wrestling one.  I was strong, but zombies are stronger.  I’m not sure why.

Perhaps there was something in the way they were raised that gave them certain powers.  For instance, remaining unharmed through everything but decapitation and fire.  That, combined with superior strength, meant the only advantage I had was that my brains could be used for something other than stuffing between my ears.

I lifted my knee, fast and hard.  If his choked shriek was any indication, his balls now had an intimate acquaintance with his throat.

He let me go.  He didn’t have much choice.  He was on the ground, clutching his privates and keening.  I rescued my sword, and then I returned Chalmers to God.

The man had always been overly tall, so even on his knees his head was nearly level with mine.  As a result, when he burst into ashes I got a face full.  Then I couldn’t see.

Which was the only excuse for what happened next.  When the shuffle that sounded behind me was followed by a touch on my shoulder, I reacted.  Two hands on the hilt of my sword I swung, and I connected. 

Blood washed the ashes from my face.

“Oh,” I whispered.  “N-n-n-no.”

I sounded like a zombie.  But I wasn’t, and neither was the man who tumbled to the muck-strewn cobblestones.  If he had been he’d be ashes, and I’d be on my way to dispatch the next murderous fiend.

Instead, I was the murderous fiend.

I fell to my knees as my victim’s eyes fluttered closed, and I sat there until the blood from the slice in his neck stopped flowing.  Then I laid my palm against his chest, but the heart beneath no longer beat; his skin had already cooled.

Should I search out the authorities and attempt to explain?

A half laugh, half sob escaped my throat.  “Excuse me, there is a dead man in the alley.  But I didn’t mean to slit his throat, sirrah.  Oh no, I meant to cut off his head.”

I lifted trembling fingers, meaning to rub at the pain in the center of my forehead, but when I saw the blood I let my arm drop back to my side. 

“Who would have thought he could have so much blood in him?” I whispered.  “Will I ever be able to wash my hands clean?”

The stranger was dead.  The only way to bring him back would be to ferret out someone who could raise him.  But then he would be a zombie—his soul in thrall to another.  I doubted this man, whoever he was, would thank me for that.

No, better to leave him where he lay.  At least his soul was already with God.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 11 of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 14, 2010

    The course of true love never did run smooth, but this book does!

    I absolutely loved this book. Great characters, easy to read yet stayed true to many of the jargen of the time. I enjoyed it so much. It had all of my favorite things: paranormal romance and Shakespearean prose and poetry.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    his is a fun Elizabethan fantasy spoof

    In 1592 London, William Shakespeare walks at night in the Southwark neighborhood when he is attacked. Amateur chasseur hunter of the undead Katherine slices his throat. However, Shakespeare counterattacks the lad who tried to cut off his head; only to find he is a she.

    To his regret, the vampire bard is attracted to his chasseur especially after he steals a kiss from his dark lady. They soon team up on solving a mystery that threatens the undead and the living of London as zombie gangbangers troll the streets; while Shakespeare also wonders if this time he gets the happy ending with the girl instead of another tragedy in five acts; as the last one he wanted he lost to a Roman and ultimately the asp.

    Shakespeare Undead is a lighthearted frolic based on the concept that the Bard would have needed several lifetimes to produce the quantity and quality of his work; thus he must have been an immortal vampire. That twisted logic permeates the humorous spoofing story line. With references to the Elizabethan Era and to the masterpieces, Lori Handeland provides an amusing lampooning starting with the Dark Lady star of the sonnets trying to cut off the Bard's head; making one wonder just who the Fool is when he wants her with his other head. Over the top of Westminster Abbey, this is a fun Elizabethan fantasy spoof.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 15, 2012

    It was ok

    It was ok, too much romance not enough zombie-vampire story which is what the story was sold on.

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  • Posted February 27, 2011

    Painfully unoriginal

    I liked this story better when it was called Shakespeare in Love. Heck, I even liked Twilight better. This novel tries - and fails - to find a delightful blend between the worlds of two much more successful writers. Handeland's novel shamefully borrows from the plot and characters of Shakespeare in Love, giving little sense that original thought went into this book beyond the concept of turning Shakespeare into a vampire and letting a zombie horde loose on Elizabethan London.

    Even if you are looking for a light read, move along. While the reading was exceptionally easy and occasionally had drive, there was simply no pay-off for any time spent reading the work. The historical inaccuracies (in other words, the lack of research), the shallow characters, and the predictable plot made for a read which angered me more than it entertained. By the time this travesty ended, I couldn't even find it within myself to laugh at the allusions that the literally-immortal Bard would go on to pen Star Wars, Wizard of Oz, etc.

    Do yourself a favor and save your hard-earned money for some other purchase!

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  • Posted August 31, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Shakespeare Lovers - A Must

    The simple innuendos and then just blatant mesh of Master S's brilliance is weaved all through this cute and twisted love tale - I couldn't put it down!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 13, 2010

    A fun distraction

    I purchased this book on a whim, as I walked by the new material section at B&N. I wasn't expecting a romance novel (which this is at heart), but it turned out to be OK with me - despite the fact that I don't generally enjoy romance-heavy stories.

    A real strength of this book is its characters - especially the two lead protagonists. The supporting cast are likewise colorful and likable, and offer some great lines (or illicit choice quips within the head of Shakespeare).

    The plot isn't as hackneyed as it originally appears to be. Yes - it's a theme these days to lift famous historical figures and place them into supernatural settings. This story simply makes Shakespeare's world a supernatural one, and weaves a story around that premise.

    The undead are a mish-mash of pop culture portrayals. The zombies take on a more playful tone than what you'll find in current zombie fiction. The vampires and apparitions are a little Anne Rice, a little Stephenie Meyer, with a dash of characteristics from all over the fictional spectrum. Overall, I found it rather refreshing.

    I realize it sounds silly to say this, given the subject matter and the fact that it's fantasy, but the situations at times really demand a large suspension of disbelief. But that's fine, because the story doesn't take itself seriously and remains fun throughout.

    Certainly not high literature, but quality Summer reading. It's entertaining enough to keep around in your library and possibly revisit later.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2010


    SHAKESPEARE UNDEAD BY LORI HANDELAND is a Elizabethan paranormal set in 1592 London. It is well written with depth and detail. It is about vampires, zombies,suspense, ghosts, a chasseur(hunter), and Shakespeare. The characters will pull you into the story and keep your attention. It will give you new and different insight into William Shakespeare and his tragic plays. What if.. Shakespeare,who is now a vampire, meets the chasseur,hunter, Kate, while she is hunting zombies. They work together to fight the zombies and find out why there is so many of them. Kate later learns the truth about Shakespeare, she is falling in love with him. He is already in love with Kate. He would give his life for her and she would for him. I would recommend this book especially if you enjoy vampires, zombies, romance, suspense, ghosts and a new look at Shakepeare and his plays. This book was received for review and details can be found at My Book Addiction and More and St. Martin's Press.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted November 17, 2012

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    Posted March 6, 2012

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    Posted December 29, 2010

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    Posted April 8, 2012

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