Zombie Island (Shakespeare Undead Series #2)

Zombie Island (Shakespeare Undead Series #2)

5.0 1
by Lori Handeland

In the follow-up to Shakespeare Undead, vampire William Shakespeare and his Dark Lady
are stranded on a mystical island where zombies are plentiful and one man will stop at nothing to become all-powerful

Fresh from a triumphant battle over the zombie horde that invaded London, vampire William Shakespeare concocts a plot to rid the love of


In the follow-up to Shakespeare Undead, vampire William Shakespeare and his Dark Lady
are stranded on a mystical island where zombies are plentiful and one man will stop at nothing to become all-powerful

Fresh from a triumphant battle over the zombie horde that invaded London, vampire William Shakespeare concocts a plot to rid the love of his life from the encumbrance of her husband. Will plans to give his "dark lady," Katherine Dymond, a potion that will make her sleep the sleep of the dead. Once she is entombed, Will can sneak in, wait for her to awaken, then spirit her away. After her husband returns to his plantation in America, Kate can return to London under a different name and assume a new identity. No one will believe that the dead Katherine and the live Kate are the same woman. Of course, as is often the case with true love, all does not go as smoothly as planned. When the two of them are shipwrecked on an island ruled by a wizard and a nymph, as well as infested by zombies, Will and Kate must stop an even larger plot afoot—one that leads all the way to the royal palaces of Queen Elizabeth.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Handeland’s superior second story of a vampire Shakespeare and his zombie hunter lover (after Shakespeare Undead) opens with Will and Kate shipwrecked on an island full of zombies. They are presided over by power-hungry Prospero, who has enslaved long-suffering fairy Ariel and changed Kate’s husband, the abusive and villainous Reginald, into Caliban. In this skillful and often deeply touching retelling of The Tempest, Handeland ditches sweeping set pieces and nonstop zombie-fighting action in favor of quiet, deeply sensual meditations upon love, adultery, sex, longing, and forgiveness. Her grasp of Elizabethan English is strong, and rarely intruded upon by the anachronism and shoehorned Shakespeare quotes that troubled the first installment. An uncertain and shocking ending will leave readers anxious for book three. Agent: Robin Rue, Writers House. (May)
From the Publisher

"Lose all literary pretensions, strengthen your stomach, and embrace this bloody frolic full of vampires, zombies, and a love story that is the stuff that sonnets are made on."—Library Journal

Library Journal
Fresh from his victory over the zombie horde that invaded London, bard, playwright, and necrovampire William Shakespeare schemes to rid his beloved Katherine of her villainous husband. But the fates intervene, and the two are shipwrecked on an island along with a power-mad sorcerer, an enslaved fairy, and Kate's evil husband, who has been changed into the wolflike Caliban. Oh, and the island is infested with zombies. Fortunately, Kate is the most fearsome zombie killer since Lizzie in Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Together with his "Dark Lady," Will works at chopping down the undead while dreaming up literary notions that come to him at the most inopportune times. VERDICT In this follow-up to Shakespeare Undead, RITA Award-winning author Handeland has fashioned a sprightly, scary, and sexy retelling of The Tempest that will please Shakespeare enthusiasts as well as horror fans. Lose all literary pretensions, strengthen your stomach, and embrace this bloody frolic full of vampires, zombies, and a love story that is the stuff that sonnets are made on. [Library marketing.]
Kirkus Reviews
Vampire (and playwright) William Shakespeare and zombie-hunter Katherine Dymond battle the living dead on a Tempest-inspired island in this second in a series by paranormal romance writer Handeland (Crave the Moon, 2011, etc.). This entry picks up where the previous novel, 2010's Shakespeare Undead, left off--with Kate having taken a potion in order to appear dead, à la Romeo and Juliet. But soon she and Will find themselves on an island inhabited by a magical sprite, Ariel, and a powerful sorcerer, Prospero, who is reanimating dead shipwreck victims in a plot to create a massive zombie army. (He also transforms Kate's former husband, Reginald, into the monstrous Caliban.) Handeland debuted her bloodthirsty Bard two years ago, around the same time that many other authors were cranking out vampire novels, zombie novels or literary/horror genre mashups (such as Seth Grahame-Smith's 2009 hit Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). But these fads have largely run their course, and, as a result, this sequel feels somewhat dated. While Handeland's affection for the works of Shakespeare is evident, she frequently lapses into overheated prose, particularly during the more "romantic" scenes. (During one extended sex scene, Shakespeare forces himself to think of "puppies, kittens, [and] sweet, fluffy gamboling spring lambs" to keep himself from drinking Kate's blood.) Handeland also struggles for a consistent tone, as she bounces haphazardly between first- and third-person points of view and awkwardly shoehorns Shakespearean quotes into characters' conversations in some scenes while referencing Star Trek or Casablanca in others. The novel leaves the door open for a third installment, for better or worse. An enthusiastic but mediocre genre exercise.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Shakespeare Undead Series, #2
Product dimensions:
5.54(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.72(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



“A contract of true love to celebrate.”

The Tempest (Act IV, scene 1)



London, Autumn—1592

“Two households,” murmured William Shakespeare, his gaze fixed on the family crypt of one of them. “In fair London, where we make our scene.”

The remains of the day were overcast, as ’twas often the case in fair London. A light rain had begun to tumble down. The dreariness of the weather fit the setting—a shadowy graveyard at dusk, the skies fair weeping over the young mistress so recently entombed.

Will’s mistress. The only woman he’d ever loved in several lifetimes.

Will was a vampire, had been for so long he could barely recall when he wasn’t. He wished that he weren’t, that he could live—really live—a true lifetime with his love, that he could once again be human; but as far as Will knew, a vampire was forever.

Unless someone cleaved his head or shoved him into the bright morning sun.

“From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,” he whispered.

If Kate’s husband found out what they had done, his grudge would certainly break something.

“A pair of star-crossed lovers,” Will continued, the beginnings of a play he’d been toying with trickling through his mind. A prologue, mayhap, shared by the Chorus, setting up the entire sorry mess he envisioned. He hadn’t written a decent tragedy in a while. It was time.

“Whose misadventured piteous overthrows do with their death bury strife.”

Only Kate’s “death” could bury the strife with her husband. If everything went according to plan—Kate took the potion that made her “appear like death”—then Reginald should have forgotten about his wife the instant the door slammed shut on her tomb. It wasn’t as if he loved her. With any luck he would have returned to the New World, and the plantation he managed there for Kate’s father, on the next ship, never to be seen or heard from again.

Which would save Will the trouble of killing him.

Just the thought of how the bastard had ill-treated his wife—Will’s love—had Will’s teeth itching, growing.

“Puppies,” he murmured, forcing his mind away from bloody murder. Instead he focused on sweet, fat-bellied balls of fur gamboling across spring grass until his fangs went away.

Will glanced at the azure sky. Now that the sun slept and the moon had awoke, the chill of a London autumn eve would soon seep into the stone mausoleum. Will had promised he would be there to greet Kate when she arose from her feigned death, so he hurried forth, intent on the door beneath the stone-cut lettering.


That was not his love’s true name, but she was a fine jewel just the same.

He reached for the door, and the portal swung open of its own accord, emitting a loud, wretched creak that caused Will to start and draw back his hand to rest atop his sword.

He’d come directly from a performance at the Rose Theater still wearing the costume of Valentine—a doublet of dark green wool with breeches a shade lighter. As Valentine becomes king of a band of outlaws, the sword was part of the show.

And proved a welcome adornment when the zombie loomed from the crypt.

“Brrrr!” it said. “Brrrrrrrr!”

“Zounds.” Will drew his weapon, the slick slide of the metal from its scabbard slicing through the heretofore silent night.

He had not expected zombies. He’d believed London cleared of them by both his efforts and Kate’s. That a woman could be an accomplished zombie hunter had at first surprised, then amazed, Will. Together they had fought the lurching horde set upon their queen by one who would topple her throne and throw England into chaos. They had triumphed, but apparently at least one of the creatures had escaped.

Will would have cleaved the horror’s head from its shoulders, returning the soul to God and the body to ashes, if he hadn’t caught his foot on a loose stone.

There were times when he was grace personified …

Will landed on his arse with a thud.

And times when he was not.

The zombie, a well-to-do merchant from the appearance of what was left of his clothes, which hung in tatters and revealed more than Will ever wanted to see of another man’s—be he dead or living dead—anatomy, blinked at the sudden disappearance of his prey. One of his eyelids came off, skating down his rotting cheek like parchment skipping off the edge of a tabletop in the wind. The bit of flesh landed on Will’s upturned face, and he panicked.

He hacked at the man’s legs, but the blows did no harm. The creature merely stepped out of Will’s reach and disappeared into the darkened crypt.

Will frowned. Why on earth would the zombie go in there when there were fresh brains to be had right here in Will’s head?

Will might be undead, but his brains still worked—quite well, if his reviews were any indication—and they were therefore a delectable meal for any shambling cretin.

Climbing to his feet, Will kept a firm hand on his weapon as he awaited the return of the creature, but the gaping, gloomy doorway remained empty.

“Thou detestable maw.” Will crept closer. “Thou womb of death. Gorged with the dearest morsel of the earth.”

A chill went over him as he heard his words and understood why the zombie had gone in rather than stay out.

Certainly most of the occupants were long dead, their brains as rotted as the one who now walked among them. But there was one who had not begun to rot. One who lay alone and vulnerable, whose fresh and tasty brains would be a dear morsel for this gibbering fiend.

Will plunged inside, sword at the ready, just in time to see the decaying head haloed in a beam of moonlight as he bent over what had to be the resting place of Will’s sweet love.

“Brr!” the creature said again. “Brrrr.”

In truth, zombies rarely said aught else.

Leaping forward, Will sliced through its neck with one sweep of his blade. The zombie disintegrated, coating Will’s face with ash.

“Zombies,” he muttered, wiping the gritty remnants from his eyes. “I hate those guys.”

An image flickered—a man in a battered brown hat sneering at other men in pressed uniforms as they goose-stepped past, arms stretched upward in a salute.

An invincible hero. The ultimate evil.

Will shook his head, and the idea disappeared. He tried very hard to bring it back.

“Something about an ark,” he murmured, but it was gone, driven from his mind by more pressing matters.

Will tightened his fingers about the hilt of his sword, gaze scanning the crypt for anything that moved. But the tomb remained as still as those who inhabited it.

He moved to the flat stone pallet where Kate should rest. Nothing was there.

Desperately, Will searched every crevice and corner. He found dozens of bodies in as many states of rot, but not a single trace of Kate.

Why was he surprised?

The course of true love never did run smooth.


Copyright © 2012 by Lori Handeland

Meet the Author

LORI HANDELAND is a USA Today, and New York Times bestselling author, as well as a two-time recipient of the Romance Writers of America's RITA award. She lives in Southern Wisconsin with two sons, a husband, and a yellow lab named Elwood.

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Zombie Island: A Shakespeare Undead Novel 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Mother_Gamer_Writer More than 1 year ago
I was sooo excited when I opened my mail and found this one!! What can I say I have a zombie problem. While I did have some issues with certain things, I did enjoy the story a lot overall. I found Kate and William both highly entertaining. I laughed out loud at quite a few parts. I liked how the author worked in famous quotes. Plus I really enjoyed the different story ideas that would pop into Shakespeare’s head, especially when the ideas were for more modern stories. Then there was Ariel. I liked watching how she tried to figure out exactly what love was and seeing how she and Caliban worked out. I loved the little quotes from The Tempest at the beginning of each chapter, and how Handeland made each chapter relate to its quote. I also liked the author’s style. Between her descriptions and her characters she really drew me into the story and I couldn’t wait to see where she would go. The issues I had with the story… My biggest problem was the timing of the story. One minute it would be nighttime, or have to be night since Shakespeare was awake, and the next minute it would be daytime. I got frustrated because I kept rereading parts of the story thinking I had missed something. I found that as long as I just ignored whether it was day or night I really enjoyed the story. My second concern was the ending itself. It just seemed rather abrupt. Don’t get me wrong, it made sense, but there was all this excitement and rushing to save the world from the zombie menace, and then poof, it was just over. Maybe I didn’t like it because I was enjoying the book so much I didn’t want it to end. *Shrug* I just know that while the ending was logical, it just wasn’t very satisfying. Because of the issues I had with the novel, it’s very hard for me to rate the finished product. Zombie Island was funny; I think I laughed on almost every page. The novel enticed me to want to read the first book in the series, Shakespeare Undead. It also makes me want to read any other sequels the author might come up with. However between the concerns I had with the story seeming to jump between day and night and the way it just ended, I feel bad giving it 5 stars. Would I read it again? Yep! Would I read more of the author’s work? Definitely! Would I recommend this book? Of course! With that being said, I had I have to give it 3 1/2 out of 5 controllers. Yes I loved the book, but the issues were rather important ones and affected my overall enjoyment of the story, however I would still recommend reading Zombie Island if you get a chance. Originally Reviewed at:Mother/Gamer/Writer Reviewer: AimeeKay
RtBBlog More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Robin Book won in a contest Review originally posted at Romancing the Book Where to begin…I found out that this is the second book in a series after the fact. Which may not be that bad at times, but I think for those that are thinking of getting this book you just may want to pick up the first in the series as this picks right up where the second left off. I have to admit I went outside of the box for this one as it is only the second book on Zombies that I have read I still have a hard time grasping the fascination with them. However, I did find that the story was interesting in its own right. With the interest in the Royal Family right now it was rather funny that two of the main characters where named Will and Kate. What a coincidence don’t you think? Ms. Handeland used quotes from many of Shakespeare’s works within her story. It was very different but likeable if you are a fan of Shakespeare. She headed each chapter with quotes from the ‘Tempest’ which then each chapter seemed to follow somewhat that quote. I kind of liked that. The story as a whole kind of had that ‘Romeo and Juliet’ vibe so it was fun to see an ‘undead’ twist on the whole thing. At times it was hard to follow because of the changing from night to day and back again or the changing from the periods of time. They didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked making it hard to follow, especially when it was within a conversation. Will is a vampire and Kate the vampire slayer. Kate is in an abusive marriage, but her saving grace so to speak is Will whom she is his mistress. Trying to save Kate, Will helps an evil wizard make Zombies…are you still with me? Oh, this all takes place on an island far, far, away… The wizard had enlisted a sprite named Ariel, who has now fallen in love with Reginald who has been changed into a lycan named Caliban. I am confused also. I feel that maybe this book was a little rushed. What could have been left open for a third and I am not saying it isn’t but, things where hurried towards the end. The focus seemed to be more about Shakespeare’s writings than about the Zombies themselves. I didn’t love this book but neither did I hate it either. I think if you are a fan of Shakespeare’s you will enjoy it. But as mentioned earlier I think I would get the first book and read it before this one.
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