Instead of explosions and post-apocalyptic survival prep, Up From Soil Fresh returns zombie fiction to the realm of horror with this collection of eight stories. These are vignettes—episodes that would have made excellent additions to a classic horror comic book or an episode of Tales from the Crypt. Each story is distinctly unique, and the prose style is varied to complement and enhance the dread that each tale’s concept provokes.
The stories of Up From Soil Fresh feel surreal, as if French described nightmares instead of characters. I would argue that none of the stories are inferior to the other; French has created a landscape for the horror-parable, each tale an examination of failings inherent in the human—and inhuman—condition. Horror fans turned off by the flood of zombie fiction can have their faith in the genre restored by reading this collection. Even though I’m familiar with French’s work, I was surprised at how creative each story was. Each setting is different, each character unique. The imagery French includes is evocative and rich.
My personal favorite in this collection was Raw Deal, and it’s a perfect contrast in style to the concluding piece, The Shadow of Light and Dark, which showcases French’s range as a horror writer. Raw Deal was just plain creepy; I felt like French rewarded me (the reader) throughout the story; there’s something to be said for a tale that uses proper foreshadowing and doesn’t shove a twist ending down the reader’s throat for shock value.
An uncomfortable funeral, a gunfighter who transcends time, a drug deal gone bad, and a realm twisted by the forces of light and dark are just some of the highlights contained herein. Up From Soil Fresh has horror that will visit you again behind closed eyes…