May Contain Spoilers
Sheri spends her days fighting zombies and her nights chained to a wall, earning her every breath by telling stories to her captor Aleksy—stories that make them both forget the ruined world. Sheri could put up with the conditions—at least she knows her sister is safe in the community Aleksy leads—until she realizes she’s falling for him…even though he wants her dead.When Aleksy allowed Sheri and her sister into his compound, he didn’t know about the zombie bite on her back. It’s only a matter of time before she turns into one of the rising dead and threatens their existence, but Aleksy has a secret need for Sheri and her stories. For everyone’s safety, he chains her to his bedroom wall, hoping for just one more day. But how long will the community allow Aleksy to ignore his own rule: always kill the infected. Always.
I wanted to enjoy One Thousand and One Nights more than I did, but the short length hurt this title. The ending is so abrupt that I immediately wanted more. Sheri is an interesting character, and I wanted to know why/how she was immune to zombie bites. After discovering that the zombie virus didn’t affect her, instead of chaining her to the wall like a dog, the little group of survivors she found refuge with should have been questioning what was going on and wondering how they could make use of her immunity; instead, they treated her like a dog turd and kept looking for excuses to kill her. While I understood their fear of infection, it was obvious, after suffering from several bites, that Sheri wasn’t going to turn. I guess fleeing from the undead hordes kills any sense of curiosity that the survivors might have possessed. Plus, I’m sure they didn’t have the facilities to conduct medical research.
Sheri and her sister have survived the zombie plague by hiding in a cabin in the mountains. Sheri, an unruly teen, was always seeking the next adrenalin rush before the world ended. Passed from one foster home to the next, she escaped her feelings of abandonment by being a thrill junkie and by pursuing boys who interested her. She also told stories, mainly to soothe her younger sister’s fears and anxieties as they were shuffled from one home to the next. After the undead arise, they fled to any safety they could find.
Sheri is fending for Dani in the mountains when they are found by Alex, the leader of a small band of survivors. His group lives in a fortified compound, and when he offers them a place to stay, Sheri only agrees to keep Dani safe. Once in the compound, their new friends discover that Sheri has been bitten, and they aren’t amused. Instead of killing her, Alex chains her to the wall in his room. There, Sheri spins one story after another in an effort to keep him from killing her. Everyone treats her like a monster, yet they send her out on dangerous missions to benefit the compound. I would have flipped them the bird, but because Sheri wants Dani to have a safe place to stay and food to eat, she goes along with their terrible treatment of her.
This is a quick read, and parts are scary. Sheri is sent on a mission that should have resulted in her face getting eaten by the zombies, but through sheer luck and sheer force of will, plus the timely intervention of Alex, she manages to escape. I was not so lucky. I actually yelped in fear when she was in the shack, so reading this before bed might not be a good idea.
The world of One Thousand and One Nights is interesting, but there aren’t enough details given to really become invested in the setting. I would love to read more about Sheri and Alex and their struggle for survival. I love zombie stories, but I would have liked to see a more fleshed out world here. I wasn’t too wooed by Alex, either. Granted, he didn’t shoot Sheri when everyone else would have killed her without a second thought, but the jerk kept her chained to a wall and allowed his people to treat her like an animal. That’s not the way to win the adoration of readers or heroines. This worked better as an action, post-apocalyptic tale with romance elements than a straight up romance. I did not find their relationship compelling, and was way more interested in Sheri kicking zombie butt. Perhaps another visit with them would alter that, but I’m not so sure. The twist on the legend of One Thousand and One Nights didn’t work for me, either. It felt like an extraneous story thread that went nowhere, and the abrupt ending didn’t help much, either. I liked this to a point, and would even read more by Ruth Browne, but I recommend One Thousand and One Nights with the above mentioned reservations. It’s a kickass zombie story, but it didn’t work as a romance, and the novella length could easily have been expanded on.
Review copy provided by publisher