Horror Books: The Rising

Horror Books

“The dead scrabbled for an entrance to his grave. His wife was among them, as ravenous for Jim in death as she’d been in life.”

Brian Keene’s first novel, a Bram Stoker Award winner, is about zombies. But these are not your father’s zombies. They are smart and fast, vicious and . . . they are taking over animals — mammals, birds, reptiles and even fish — as well. It’s the end of the World and the leader of the Zombies, Ob, has brought marshmallows

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The Rising by Brian Keene




by Brian Keene


Horror Fiction, Adventure,


Zombies, Religion, Christianity, Quest, End of the World,


Jim Thurmond, A father who must rescue his son
Danny Thurmond, Jim’s son
Reverend Thomas Martin, A man of God with faith even in these days
Frankie, Ex-prostitute and ex-junkie
William Baker, A scientist whose experiment may have created the zombies
Worm (Warren?), A young deaf-mute


Jim Thurmond is drawn out of the safety of his bomb shelter in a world overrun by intelligent zombies when he receives a call for help from his son, Danny, several states away on his dying cell phone.

“I’m scared Daddy. I know we shouldn’t leave the attic, but Mommy’s sick and I don’t know how to make her better.”

A trip that used to take twelve hours to drive becomes an epic journey lasting many days as zombies and deranged humans try to bring him down. Along the way, he is joined by an elderly reverend who shares his conviction that Danny is alive, a cleaned out ex-prostitute and ex-junkie named Frankie who has found incredible strength to survive and later, William Baker.

They are set upon by human zombies and also intelligent zombie animals — for instance, a flock of zombie birds that dive-bomb their vehicle mercilessly trying to force them to stop. Leading this assault is the first zombie, Ob.

And Ob’s hatred of humanity, as well as the all creation, is unparalleled. He won’t stop until every last human being has been consumed or killed.


Although this is Brian Keene’s first novel, he was already a seasoned author when he began. Absent are the typical first novelist mistakes that one often sees. The Rising is a grim book. Keene does not bother to hold out false hope for humanity. We’re dead. The only difference Jim could possibly make is the find Danny — dead or undead.

Brian Keene uses a generous amount of description to set the story and give it its mood. There are images, particularly from Frankie’s story that will stick with me always — zombie rats sweeping the sewers for kill, an infant crying it its carriage only to turn out to be a starving zombie. . . . Frankie trapped in the zoo . . . hunting deer for food in the wilderness (okay that wasn’t Frankie) and so forth.

“Your kind must learn that your time is over. You are food. Meat. Transport. Nothing more.”

Part of the attraction to this story — besides watching civilization crumble and observing humanity’s insane reactions and wanting Jim to reach his son — is that Ob has an agenda and a reason for being there. He has a story that slowly gets revealed to the reader and it is a fascinating one. Brian does not hide Ob’s agenda from the reader — by the end of the story you will know why this is happening.

If you love zombies, you owe it to yourself to check out The Rising and its sequel City of the Dead. And, although its not the same world, Dead Sea by Brian Keene as well.


The Rising is the Winner of the 2003 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel.

City of the Dead is the sequel to The Rising. There are several other books in The Rising Cycle, including: The Rising: Selected Scenes From The End of the World, a prequel called The Resurrection and the Life and a chapbook with several additional authors called, The Rising: Necrophobia. You can find a couple of zombie stories, including The Resurrection and the Life in the short story collection Unhappy Endings.


Actually any the books from The Rising Cycle (click on the series title to see the series page), reads like this book — they’re on the same world and written by the same author. . . . but that’s cheating, isn’t it?

The Rising by Brian KeeneFirst I’d recommend The Earthworm Gods or its paperback incarnation The Conqueror Worm. It is Brian Keene again, destroying the world with unceasing rain.

If you’re looking for zombies, I’d like to turn your attention to the Zombies the New Vampires book lists. It rocks!

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