This Dark Earth

This Dark Earth

3.3 4
by John Hornor Jacobs

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The land is contaminated, electronics are defunct, the ravenous undead remain, and life has fallen into a nasty and brutish state of nature.

Welcome to Bridge City, in what was once Arkansas: part medieval fortress, part Western outpost, and the precarious last stand for civilization. A ten-year-old prodigy when the world


The land is contaminated, electronics are defunct, the ravenous undead remain, and life has fallen into a nasty and brutish state of nature.

Welcome to Bridge City, in what was once Arkansas: part medieval fortress, part Western outpost, and the precarious last stand for civilization. A ten-year-old prodigy when the world ended, Gus is now a battle-hardened young man. He designed Bridge City to protect the living few from the shamblers eternally at the gates. Now he’s being groomed by his physician mother, Lucy, and the gentle giant Knock-Out to become the next leader of men. But an army of slavers is on its way, and the war they’ll wage for the city’s resources could mean the end of mankind as we know it.

Can Gus become humanity’s savior? And if so, will it mean becoming a dictator, a martyr . . . or maybe something far worse than even the zombies that plague the land?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Gus Ingersol is 14 and heir apparent to Bridge City, a fortified town in the middle of a zombie epidemic. His mother, Lucy, is a doctor and ruthless visionary who used her valuable medical training as a rallying point to form an organized community of survivors. Unfortunately, while her goals are noble, democracy is not one of them, so Gus is expected to prove his fighting worth and join the ruling council sooner rather than later. Less nihilistic than most authors of zombie fare, Jacobs (Southern Gods) is surprisingly uncritical of putting an untried boy in charge of a dangerous mission—not to mention the ease with which nepotism becomes monarchy. The real enemies of Bridge City are not the zombies, but rather the opportunistic cruelty and selfishness that spring up in their wake. This smart addition to the zombie genre is heroic and strangely hopeful, championing the unyielding human drive for justice and civilization. Agent: Stacia Decker, Donald Maass Literary Agency. (July)
Kirkus Reviews
A doctor, her adolescent son and a trucker shelter and defend fellow survivors in the wake of a post-nuclear zombie apocalypse. This second novel by Jacobs (Southern Gods, 2011) has all of the right elements of the bookshelf's worth of zombie novels swarming the market in the wake of AMC's The Walking Dead: zombies, blood, gore, terror and the gruesome mechanics of survival--but this bloody entry also offers something more in style, substance and readability. Lucy Ingersol is a doctor in a southern hospital when the world goes pear-shaped--walking, flesh-eating corpses accompanied by critical nuclear strikes in major American cities. Lucy and her son Gus survive with the help of Jim "Knock-Out" Nickerson, a burly, rough-looking truck driver with a surprisingly gentle nature. Over time, the trio and their followers build an armed fortress off of the Arkansas River, naming their home "Bridge City." It's rough business for the adolescent boy being groomed to lead them. "The murderhole is a twenty-by-twenty space between the inner and outer gates, ringed by a walkway about six feet above the ground and connected to the rampart. The zombie's heads are right at our feet level," explains Gus. "This was all my idea. Some days I'm not too happy about it." The novel's tenderness in places is balanced by a ferocity that pulls no punches. In one story, a woman named Tessa details her misuse at the hands of mercenaries, and her revenge. In another sequence, Gus is captured by a vicious slaver named Konstantin, tortured nearly to death and crucified. Yet there's heart, too, like the funny sequence, "The Bureaucracy of the Dead," where a member of the group takes minutes chronicling the terrible decisions that have to be made, often by fiat. Don't miss the interactive map of Bridge City on Jacobs' website. For readers who get off on what-would-I-do? questions, this book offers satisfaction.

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Gallery Books
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Meet the Author

John Hornor Jacobs has worked in advertising for the last fifteen years, played in bands, and pursued art in various forms. He is the cofounder of Needle: A Magazine of Noir. He is also, in his copious spare time, a novelist, represented by Stacia Decker of the Donald Maass Literary Agency. His first novel, SOUTHERN GODS, will be published by Night Shade Books and released nationally in August, 2011. His second novel, THIS DARK EARTH, will be published in July, 2012, by Gallery/Pocket Books, an imprint of Simon&Schuster.

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This Dark Earth 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
Lucy is having a really bad day. A doctor at a clinic, she's just diagnosed a young woman with cancer. How does Lucy tell the young woman that she will miscarry? Lucy doesn't exactly have a good bedside manner. At the same time, however, the waiting room at the clinic is breaking out in chaos. People are eating their lips, fingers, and a few drop dead. Not quite a typical day. While the reader will instantly recognize the odd behaviors of patients as hints that zombies will soon be roaming the area, Lucy and her fellow doctors are slower to recognize the threat. Lucy, Robby (another doctor), along with a mother and her infant, manage to escape right before the military swoops in and destroys the clinic, and then the whole town. Fleeing for their lives, Robby, the mother and infant don't make it very far, but Lucy, determined to get home to her husband and young son, Gus, manages to survive. She is picked up by Knock-Out, a trucker with a gentle heart, and it is he who first brings up the word "zombie." The pair seek shelter right before the whole place is vaporized. By the time Lucy is able to get home, her husband has fallen victim to hungry zombies. Gus is found hiding and together with his mother and Knock-Out, they flee from the encroaching multitudes of "Shamblers." Along with other survivors, the trio builds Bridge City, a refuge built to protect the living from the zombies. Life is hard, and threatened every day, and gets even worse when the inhabitants learn that "Slavers," escaped prisoners who enslave women and torture and kill men, are heading their way. Can Gus, and his rag-tag band of fighters, ward off the Slavers and zombies? This Dark Earth takes place over a five-year time period. Many of the chapters are told in the first-person, each by a different member of the main cast. This method may at first seem odd but it works well with this author and the even, fast flow is never lost. Speaking of "fast," the book is action-packed and takes off on the first page. The characters, particularly strong-willed Lucy, are interesting and have a certain depth that isn't often seen in horror novels. The book is definitely not for the faint hearted as there are scenes of torture and other grisly acts throughout, but zombies are not nice folks, so why expect a lot of fluff? This book takes the zombie genre beyond the simple, "run for your lives/escape the zombies" plot to a new level of trying to live in a future world where zombies are a fact of life. Quill says: Fast-paced and well-written; an excellent novel about a dystopian society with lots of creepy zombie action. If you like zombie stories, then don't miss This Dark Earth.
Anonymous 4 months ago
This book sucks could not get into it boring
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago