The best books about the undead

1 authors have picked their favorite books about the undead and why they recommend each book.

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Awaken Online

By Travis Bagwell,

Book cover of Awaken Online: Unity

A great story about the underdog bullied kid who rises up to become a necromancer builds up an undead nation, and rises up to contend with powerful forces against all odds. Great storytelling and compelling character, it’s a pleasure watching Jason grows up from a timid teen to a confident leader – and by using the dark arts. It's a great coming-of-age \ underdog reach the top kind of story except the underdog does it by embracing necromancy and his tools are the undead soul-wilting powers yet you can't stop rooting for him to win.


Who am I?

I’ve been a huge fan of D&D and RPG games since I’ve been old enough to play them. The idea of grooming a character, growing it in terms of strength and levels until it becomes powerful enough to take on gods always captured my imagination. LitRPG is a relatively new book genre, and reading it (the good ones at least) makes you feel like you’re playing those games yourselves. Following a new protagonist growth and journey, often illustrated by actual numeric values you can easily keep track of (like skills and levels) is so much fun, and I think more people should be aware it exists.


I wrote...

Life Reset (New Era Online: Life Reset)

By Shemer Kuznits,

Book cover of Life Reset (New Era Online: Life Reset)

What is my book about?

Insurmountable odds...hidden powers maneuvering behind the scenes...all culminating in a final, titanic, clash.

The mighty city of Everance lay in the GreenPiece clan’s path, but as Oren soon discovers, he’s got even bigger obstacles to overcome before reaching his final goal.

Halfway to the Grave

By Jeaniene Frost,

Book cover of Halfway to the Grave

The Night Huntress series features a half-vampire vampire hunter named Cat. While hunting one night she encounters Bones, a vampire bounty hunter. These two are definitions of enemies to lovers and the heat between them is off the charts. I absolutely love the relationship between these two and how it develops through the series.


Who am I?

I have always enjoyed reading about strong women though when I was younger these books were harder to find. Far too often the woman needed to be ‘rescued’ by a man. I wanted tough women that could kick ass and were loved by the men in their lives because of it. I found that over and over again in the urban fantasy genre. The series listed here motivated me to write my own and continue to inspire my current work. I hope you enjoy them and maybe find some inspiration of your own.


I wrote...

Realm Walker

By Kathleen Collins,

Book cover of Realm Walker

What is my book about?

Sometimes dying is the easiest part of the day.

Juliana Norris is good at her job. Unfortunately for her, that means more middle-of-the-night wake-up calls. It’s a life she’s become used to, with which she’s grown content. Until the mate she hasn’t seen in seven years returns without warning. Thomas Kendrick is a master vampire whose word is law among his kind in the Western United States. His formerly compliant mate has no intention of listening to anything he has to say. She is full of fire and venom and he couldn’t be more intrigued. He’s less pleased to discover her peculiar habit of dying, however temporary the condition might be.

Mountain Man (Volume 1)

By Keith C. Blackmore,

Book cover of Mountain Man (Volume 1)

Keith gripped me with his Mountain Man series. If ever there was a reluctant hero who accidentally self-sabotages often, one who is so real and relatable that you can’t help but love him, then Keith’s Gus character is for you. Tackling the zombie apocalypse from the point of view of a regular, everyday man, this series grabs hold and doesn’t let go.


Who am I?

I’ve long had a passion (read: obsession) with the apocalypse in whatever form it takes. I’ve written viral pandemics, zombie outbreaks, post-nuclear survival, dystopian totalitarianism, extinction-level-event, alien invasion, WW3… all of them have the theme of the great reset. The ability to reinvent yourself in the new world. The erasure of your life and the clean slate to try again and become who you want to be. I read and listen to this genre as well as write it because I'm passionate about the worlds writers create and the way their characters adapt to overcome the challenges my own have faced. As a former police officer, I’ve probably spent too many night shifts pondering the end of the world.


I wrote...

After It Happened: Survival

By Devon C. Ford,

Book cover of After It Happened: Survival

What is my book about?

Set in the UK in the immediate aftermath of a mysterious illness that swept the country and left millions dead, After it Happened follows the trials of a reluctant hero, Dan, and the group formed around him, including the fearless Leah. They must battle the elements, find sufficient supplies and equipment to survive, and protect themselves against the most destructive force on the planet: other people.

The Silver Kiss

By Annette Curtis Klause,

Book cover of The Silver Kiss

I’m amazed that more people aren’t talking about this book. It falls in line with the vampire romance genre so effortlessly, and yet it is egregiously overlooked. I remember reading it years ago when I was a teenager and being totally entranced. There’s this beautiful lilt to the writing, and the plot is so richly complex. It deals with the subject of immortality in such an interesting way, comparing the endless life of this vampire to the swiftly expiring life of this girl’s mother. The romance itself is actually refreshing as well. There’s this soft, sweet gallantry that you don’t see a lot in modern work, in my opinion.

Who am I?

I love weird situations. I have been writing since I was four years old, and have been patiently waiting for the man who appreciates my wide range of vocal inflections. Books have always been companions for me. It helped me develop empathy for others at a young age. Reading about situations that involve people who are nothing like you helps you think beyond yourself. I think that is partly why I’ve always gravitated towards books with unique plots and characters. There’s something invigorating about a story that breaks the mold and offers something new, even if it’s a little strange. The books I’ve recommended all have heavily influenced me and my writing throughout the years. 


I wrote...

The Island of Lote

By Emily Kinney,

Book cover of The Island of Lote

What is my book about?

There is fire in Milo Hestler’s spirit, despite feeling tamped down for years. Her parents see past her, not understanding that dragging their teenage daughter from new home to new home isn’t exactly supplying friends and favor. And she’s finally had enough.

However, the adventure she anticipated when first boarding the plane is far from the one she gets. Milo didn’t ever expect to wash up on tropical sands, the tawny head of a sun-baked boy mere inches from her face. And she certainly didn’t expect to be wearing a ring that would connect her to him. And to the whole island. But the fire inside her was about to come out.

Undead and Unwed

By MaryJanice Davidson,

Book cover of Undead and Unwed: A Queen Betsy Novel

While I didn’t set out to copy this novel, I have to admit that unconsciously this mashup of chick lit and horror with a vampire protagonist probably spawned my idea to write a romantic comedy/horror mashup with a protagonist who has just become a ghost. If you enjoyed Restless Spirits, this book has a similar vibe, albeit one that’s quite a bit more, ahem, spicy than you’ll typically find in my own writing. At turns hilarious, frightening, poignant, and steamy, this is probably the book that put paranormal chick-lit on the map.


Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated with ghost stories since I was a kindergartener hiding in the closet with a flashlight, swapping scares with my friends. To this day I don’t walk into a bathroom without turning the light on first, just in case Bloody Mary is lurking in there with any ideas. Add in a love of reading spurred on by early exposure to a copy of Jane Eyre and the discovery of my mom’s secret stash of gothic romance novels. I love a good romance as much as I love a good scare, and when you combine the two… well, you pretty much had me at hello.


I wrote...

Restless Spirits

By Jean Marie Bauhaus,

Book cover of Restless Spirits

What is my book about?

Veronica “Ron” Wilson has her whole life behind her. At least, that’s what she comes to realize soon after waking up in the mysterious house she had come to investigate. A paranormal investigator by trade, Ron now finds herself investigating her own death with the help of a handful of helpful friendly ghosts -- and one who’s just a pain in the rear-end. Unfortunately, being dead doesn’t keep Ron from noticing that he also possesses quite the nice rear-end or from tingling in ways that almost make her feel alive whenever he’s near…. As if unwanted afterlife crushes weren’t bad enough, Ron soon discovers that she and her fellow ghosts aren’t the house’s only inhabitants.

Handling the Undead

By John Ajvide Lindqvist,

Book cover of Handling the Undead

Lindqvist already reimagined vampires with Let the Right One In, and Handling the Undead is his answer to the zombie apocalypse. Unlike some of the other books on this list, where the zombie protagonists are sympathetic and mostly retain their humanity, the characters who come back from the dead in this book are deeply unsettling. The main focus is on the still-living family members whose lives are turned upside down by the dead coming to life. Following multiple story threads as many families throughout Stockholm struggle to cope with their newly resurrected loved ones, this book is equal parts heartfelt and utterly chilling. 


Who am I?

I'm a life-long horror lover and author of dark fiction. I've been reviewing films and video games for Ravenous Monster ezine for nearly a decade, and my Wattpad horror novel The Hound is currently being adapted for film. My favorite thing is the intersection of the horrifying and fantastic with the mundane, and that's what appeals to me so much about zombies: in all of their multitudinous representations, they've always held up a mirror to humanity. No monster can so easily reflect the many facets of humanity as a zombie. Because, after all, the dead were once just like us – and if we're not careful, we might end up just like them in the end.


I wrote...

River of Souls

By T.L. Bodine,

Book cover of River of Souls

What is my book about?

Undeath is a manageable condition. That's what the media says, anyway: with the help of the miracle life-extension drug, Lazarus, the Undead can retain their humanity and live normal, happy lives. Without it, they become violent, mindless walking corpses. 

Davin Montoya was eager to believe all of that until an accident left him joining the ranks of the freshly deceased himself. Now, keeping his death a secret is the only way to keep his sister out of foster care. To do so, he must venture into the underground society of Unregistered Undead - a dangerous world of drug deals and government resistance. But when their access to Lazarus begins to run dry, the truth starts to unravel...and it's not what anyone expected.

The Impossible Contract

By K.A. Doore,

Book cover of The Impossible Contract: Book 2 in the Chronicles of Ghadid

The Chronicles of Ghadid follows a family of assassins in a fantastical desert world—but rather than play it safe by following stealthy assassination quests, Doore throws her assassins into the fray against undead armies and unkillable spirits. The result is a truly unique setting with haunting action sequences, bound together by the close ties of family and budding romances. Also, necromancers and undead camels, how could you go wrong?


Who am I?

As a stage combat choreographer myself, fight sequences are always important to me: they have to be believable but exciting, they have to keep up the pace so the reader is experiencing the action at the same speed as the characters—but most importantly, they have to tell a story. Action just for the sake of action always feels empty, but great fight scenes that are both exhilarating and bound to the forward momentum of the plot and emotion will stay with me for a long time. Here’s some that I still remember long after I finished the book.


I wrote...

Nottingham

By Nathan Makaryk,

Book cover of Nottingham

What is my book about?

Sure, the story of Robin Hood has been done over and over again, but somehow I’ve never seen the version I really wanted. I’ve always hated “good guys” vs moustache-twirling “bad guys.” I wanted a Robin Hood with questionable motives, and a relatable Sheriff of Nottingham with good intentions.

Nottingham is my answer to a more complex look at Robin Hood lore, in which we see the world from multiple points of view on both sides of the conflict. There are still plenty of famous tentpole Robin Hood moments that will keep the story familiar to a reader’s expectations, but there are just as many Robin Hood tropes dismantled along the way, in favor of something more realistic and morally ambiguous.

Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?

By Timothy Verstynen, Bradley Voytek,

Book cover of Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?: A Neuroscientific View of the Zombie Brain

Work smarter, not harder. If you want to survive a zombie apocalypse, you'll need to understand the behavior of the undead. And it all starts with a necrotic brain. If you know why zombies hunt, infect and kill their victims, you can devise effective strategies for avoiding and moving among the undead and, if necessary, killing them. I loved that the neuroscience in this book is very real, even if the zombies are not (yet). It is one of the best applications of nonfictional content to a fictional world available today — a must-read for lovers of brains, both alive and dead.


Who am I?

Like many of my generation, my formal introduction to the zombie genre started with George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead. Stories of the zombie apocalypse, and the arterial sprays, dismemberments, and eviscerations that accompanied it, have fascinated me ever since. But, I'm also a psychology professor. Although I was initially captivated by the carnage of the undead, I quickly found that the mindsets of the survivors were equally fascinating. More than anything, I love seeing how fictional worlds represent real-world psychological concepts.


I wrote...

Parenting in the Zombie Apocalypse: The Psychology of Raising Children in a Time of Horror

By Steven J. Kirsh,

Book cover of Parenting in the Zombie Apocalypse: The Psychology of Raising Children in a Time of Horror

What is my book about?

Parenting is difficult under the best of circumstances—but extremely daunting when humanity faces cataclysmic annihilation. When the dead rise, hardship, violence, and the ever-present threat of flesh-eating zombies will adversely affect parents and children alike. Depending on their age, children will have little chance of surviving a single encounter with the undead, let alone the unending peril of the Zombie Apocalypse. The key to their survival—and thus the survival of the species—will be the caregiving they receive.

Drawing on psychological theory and real-world research on developmental status, grief, trauma, mental illness, and child-rearing in stressful environments, this book critically examines factors influencing parenting, and the likely outcomes of different caregiving techniques in the hypothetical landscape of the living dead.

Touch the Dark

By Karen Chance,

Book cover of Touch the Dark

The Cassie Palmer series by Karen Chance is a bit darker but that darkness comes with a richer narrative. The way the language flows in this series is what made me fall in love with it. The characters are beautifully crafted. This is a world I could revisit again and again. 


Who am I?

I have always enjoyed reading about strong women though when I was younger these books were harder to find. Far too often the woman needed to be ‘rescued’ by a man. I wanted tough women that could kick ass and were loved by the men in their lives because of it. I found that over and over again in the urban fantasy genre. The series listed here motivated me to write my own and continue to inspire my current work. I hope you enjoy them and maybe find some inspiration of your own.


I wrote...

Realm Walker

By Kathleen Collins,

Book cover of Realm Walker

What is my book about?

Sometimes dying is the easiest part of the day.

Juliana Norris is good at her job. Unfortunately for her, that means more middle-of-the-night wake-up calls. It’s a life she’s become used to, with which she’s grown content. Until the mate she hasn’t seen in seven years returns without warning. Thomas Kendrick is a master vampire whose word is law among his kind in the Western United States. His formerly compliant mate has no intention of listening to anything he has to say. She is full of fire and venom and he couldn’t be more intrigued. He’s less pleased to discover her peculiar habit of dying, however temporary the condition might be.

Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs

By Molly Harper,

Book cover of Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs

Molly Harper has a way with words. They are often funny in the most unique ways. Her Half-Moon Hollow series is set in a world where the vampires have come out of the coffin. Jane Jameson, the local (recently fired) librarian, has been turned into a vampire and if her mama finds out, Jane will never hear the end of it.


Who am I?

I love stories set in contemporary urban environments where magic just happens to be real. This can take many forms, but my preference is a novel with realistic real-world scenarios that have to accommodate a magical world, without making things too easy for those with power. When I write Urban Fantasy (or SciFi) I try to inject logic and consistency into the worlds I create. My day job, working in the software industry and the logic skills needed to master problem solving, add these qualities to my writing.  


I wrote...

Dark Hope (The Devil's Assistant)

By H.D. Smith,

Book cover of Dark Hope (The Devil's Assistant)

What is my book about?

After five years of working for the Devil, Claire Cooper believes she lives an otherwise normal life. Until she finds herself in jeopardy for a murder she did not commit. Desperate to save her life and soul, she enters Purgatory, but runs afoul of the Pagan Queen Mab. Mab has her own agenda and uses Claire to get even with the Devil. Claire learns each ruler is in a race to discover “the girl” in the prophecy to fix time. As Claire peels away clues to the real killer, she realizes she must outwit the Devil’s children or end up a prisoner in Purgatory forever.

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