When his boyfriend, Dax Everhart, has a fatal accident, Steven sees no choice but to use his experimental Lazarus Elixir. Dax comes back wrong, but the more humans he consumes, the more human he becomes.
With the help of his best friends, his ghostly aunt, and her living doll homunculus, Steven fights to regain normalcy and repair his shattered relationship with Dax. But with Dax openly embracing his monstrous nature, Steven shoulders the guilt of assisting in a murder spree that could lead the mundane and magical police right to their door.
Huh. Well... okay. That was certainly not what I was expecting.
Confession: I didn't really read the blurb before I snatched this one up. I saw the cover, liked it, and said, "YES, PLEASE."
Luckily for me, I ended up really loving this... weird, gory, zombie, love story.
Steven and Dax are both students at Academy of Magecraft. Steven specializes in alchemy and is determined to find a way to bring people back from the dead. But without creating zombies, of course. When Dax takes a fatal fall, Steven hastily uses his experiments to bring him back.
It worked. Kind of.
He wasn't a mindless zombie... but still a zombie with a hunger for human flesh. This sends Steven into a tailspin trying to find a way to "fix" Dax. The idea of sentient zombies... not something I've read about before and the idea was more than intriguing. And disgusting. Dax wasn't completely himself after being brought back, but he was aware enough to know what he was doing to survive and to be okay with it. He was heartless and did what he had to do to "live". It was almost humorous. I say almost because I felt weird laughing at his cannibalism. But I did.
At the same time, he was kind of cute. Like I said, he wasn't totally himself and had some things missing. He wasn't sure about his feelings for Steven and he was adorably shy around his long-time boyfriend. Between finding snacks and eating his "leftovers", I pretty much loved Dax.
I loved Steven, too. He was a frantic mess for most of the story, understandably so, but he didn't give up on helping Dax. Even if he also found himself in a less than desirable position along the way.
I'm not sure I would call this a story with an HEA. But it was more than a HFN... ? I guess, it was the best that could have possibly come out of Steven and Dax's situation. I really liked the ending. If everything ended too perfectly, I don't think it would have done Dax and Steven's story justice. They did the best they could with the situation they created, and their ending felt they way, too.
If you like zombies and some humor mixed in with your gore, then pick this one up for some Halloween fun. It was a little creepy (did I mention a talking doll? O__O), slightly disturbing, funny, with a sweet couple doing everything they could to stay together.
A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
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Elliot Cooper © 2016
All Rights Reserved.
Catrina skipped through the garden, her bangs fluttering below the neat braid pinned across the top of her head. Her hair was darker than the rest of her unearthly blue-green form, the yard partially visible through her translucent skin and clothes. She flopped down on the ground in a way that made her appear to have mass and then poked at the fetid opossum corpse until she managed to flip it to its belly.
“Told you so,” she said matter-of-factly. “You didn’t use enough.”
Steven ignored her and kept digging. She didn’t have any idea what she was talking about. Catrina had admitted to him multiple times that she’d never dabbled in necromancy in life; she’d been too young to get much further than simple charms and potions. Back in her day, they hadn’t even had the local campus of the Academy of Magecraft, which meant she’d been homeschooled by his great-great-grandmother.
“Did you run it over yourself?”
Steven huffed in annoyance and jammed his shovel into the earth. He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose with one gloved hand and glared at the little ghost.
“No. I found it. I’m a necromancer, not a murderer.” He looked down into the hole he’d made, judged it to be deep enough for the poor animal, and then gently lowered the opossum body into the ground.
The potion hadn’t been potent enough, which wasn’t entirely his fault. Several of the ingredients were out of season and expensive. His little herb garden was already done for the year with the cooler fall weather turning the trees in his yard gold and umber. Steven didn’t like to waste any of his potion supplies and didn’t think it was a fault to be conservative with his elixirs.
Only maybe he’d been overly cautious. Maybe he needed to take a cue from his boyfriend, Dax, and get overzealous with his potion making and application rituals.
Steven’s mouth screwed into a sour frown at the thought as he shoveled the pile of dirt back into the hole.
“Is it really smelly?” Catrina peered up at Steven from her seat on the grass. She plucked at the hem of her dress and pulled it down over her knees.
“It’s not too bad.” Steven shrugged one shoulder as he tamped down the loose dirt with the flat side of the shovel. “I can’t even smell it now.”
“So that’s your ‘I just thought of something that offends my Stevie senses’ face.” Catrina pursed her lips at him and then skipped off toward the house.
“Don’t call me that!” Steven called after her. Catrina was the only one who called him that, and she’d done so since he was little enough to want to play games with her. But he’d outgrown the nickname a long time ago. It was a child’s name, not the name of a future world-renowned mage.
He heard Dax’s car pull into the driveway as he put the shovel and gloves back in the shed with the rest of his gardening equipment. At least Dax wouldn’t get all holier than thou about his failed attempt to raise roadkill from the dead. Again.
“Hey, babe!” Dax called to Steven as he walked around to the front of the house. “You wanna help me with these groceries? I got you a little something special.” He waggled his dark brows and grinned but then noticed his jovial expression wasn’t catching. “Everything all right?”
“Opossum number three was not, in fact, the charm,” Steven said with a shake of his head. He let out a sigh and sidestepped Dax to reach into the car for the bags.