The Again-Walkers: Deborah Sheldon
Reviewed by Priscilla Bettis
“The Again-Walkers” is a novelette about zombies before they were called zombies, the “again-walkers” of the Viking era.
Svana was given as a bride by her family to an awful man named Hallkell in order to stop a blood feud. Svana is brave and smart. Her huge, muscular husband is violent and cruel. So is her mother-in-law. With that setup, I was immediately cheering for Svana.
Svana and a shepherd in town fall in love. It’s a forbidden love, of course, because Svana is married to the horrid Hallkell. I don’t read romance. It’s just not my thing, so for Sheldon to write a romance-horror story and make it so engaging that I couldn’t not read it is a testament to Sheldon’s talent.
Her sensual descriptions of bodies (not just sex scenes, but characters in general) bring their textures, smells, motions, and sounds to life. I was there with Svana in the romantic scenes and the terrifying scenes.
There is much to fear in this story, not only the again-walkers, but also mob anger, (off-screen) animal cruelty, spies among townsfolks, and the power of gossip.
When Svana finally encounters an again-walker, she holds her breath. I held mine, too. Oh, the size and power of the menacing beast!
Sheldon’s prose is polished. Her storytelling comes from an experienced pen. I can’t think of a single thing I didn’t like about this story.
Sheldon’s The Again-Walkers is a novelette that will appeal to a broad horror audience even if, like me, you don’t normally read romance.
The Again-Walkers was inspired by ninth-century Danish mythology and superstition.
The premise: To end a blood feud between two Viking families, Svana Norup is offered as a peace-pledge bride to blacksmith, Hallkell Jenson.
Within weeks of moving to Hallkell’s village, however, Svana meets and falls for the shepherd, Agmundr Rask. If Svana and Agmundr want to make a life together, they must first get rid of Hallkell.
But can the lovers risk murder when Hallkell might return from the dead to take revenge?
Priscilla Bettis is an avid horror reader and passionate horror author. She’s also an excellent swimmer, which is good because vampires are terrible swimmers. Priscilla shares a home in the Northern Plains of Texas with her two-legged and four-legged family members.
Amazon author page: Priscilla-Bettis