I Walked With A Zombie AKA a review of Rabid Heart by Jeremy Wagner
Rhonda has lost her fiancé, her mother, and her siblings to Necro-Rabies. At a military base with her Marine father she is trying, but struggling, to cope cope with zombiefied world she finds herself in. During a fateful mission to her hometown she is reunited with her undead fiancé, and must decide how far she is willing to go for love.
I wouldn't call myself jaded, but I am pretty skeptical about love and romance in books (and film) yet I found Rabid Heart to be an incredibly sweet and heartfelt story. While so many of Rhonda's actions are illogical, dangerous, and even selfish, they are still understandable. She has violently lost almost everyone and everything dear to her, humanity has essentially been destroyed, and she is traumatized. She embarks on a dangerous (and foolish roadtrip) that serves to help her come to terms with the state of things.
Love is the focus of the story, but not just romantic love! It's about how far you will go to protect your love, finding new forms of love, and knowing when it's time to let go. All of this without being unbearably sappy, but instead very genuine. Rhonda's interactions with the two children she meets, as well as with her father, give the story added depth beyond "zombie love story" and I found it wonderfully effective.
Now, while love is the heart of the story, that doesn't mean it lacks in gore, fear, or tension. Inhuman and human monsters plague Rhonda's journey and the threat feels real. Her decisions have consequences that cause real trouble for her to overcome, and as minimal as that sounds, it really adds to the story. Even a knife wound (that in most fiction would cause a bit of limping and soreness despite lack of medical care) causes genuine life endangering effects here.
If you're looking for an all out horror/blood and guts zombie tale this probably isn't the one to reach for, but if you like a bit of horror with a lot of heart this is worth your time.