The Prince of Soul and the Lighthouse, by Fredrik Brouneus (steampress.co.nz, RRP $30):
I’m more than a little fed up with the whole vampire craze so I am enjoying the resurgence of interest in the other undead: zombies.
Author Fredrik Brouneus has taken the zombie apocalypse theme and given it an awesome southern flavour with this young adult sci-fi novel set in Otago and Southland and the result is a fast- paced and fun read.
Dunedin teenager George Larson has been lumbered with the onerous task of saving the world in a roundabout way by shutting down a lighthouse.
He takes to the task like a slightly unstable duck to water, embarking on a road trip like no other around Southland and Otago with a Tibetan monk, his grandfather and a hot Finnish exchange student in tow.
And all this while he is being chased by all sorts of dubious people who may or may not have other plans for the lighthouse as George and his entourage try to work out just why everyone seems to think the world needs saving and George is the bloke for the job.
And did I mention that his grandfather is a zombie? And the hot exchange student could possibly be the reincarnation of a whole bunch of history’s evil villains?
Dunedin artist Tony Tarasiewicz has provided 10 illustrations for the book and they are a perfect fit for the tone of the story. I love how the southern provinces fit into the book through the road trip and the descriptions in a way that highlights the region without being too obvious: I could picture the places being described but didn’t feel like it was a travelogue, as so often happens when authors try to share what they know about their home towns.
This is the third book from the Dunedin-based author, with the first two being published in his native Sweden.
For fledgling publisher Steam Press, this is an effort to take ownership of a niche literary genre that isn’t always covered by the bigger publishers: science fiction and fantasy.
It’s a lot of fun and even though I’m not the target market I thoroughly enjoyed it.
And best of all, there were no sparkly vampires.