First published back in November of 2014, British author Duncan P. Bradshaw’s debut novel ‘Class Three’ formed the first instalment in a proposed zombie apocalypse series.

DLS Synopsis:
Jim Taylor had woken up running late for work after a pretty rough night.  The previous evening he’d gone out for a meal with his long-term girlfriend Sophie, only to end up getting drunk, puking and having Sophie walk out on him.  Now he’d woken up with a stinking hangover and the knowledge that his life had pretty much crumbled away to nothing.  He’d been so focussed on work over the last year or so that he hadn’t even seen the warning signs.  He knew it was his fault.  He’d lost her.  And now it was too late to do anything about it.

However his day is soon to get a whole lot worse.  As Jim leaves his flat for work, it gradually dawns on him that there’s something different about the world outside.  The streets are much quieter than they normally are.  And it’s not long before he’s confronted with what’s wrong.  As impossible as it seems, the reality of the situation can’t be denied.  A zombie apocalypse is upon them.

After coming face to face his first glimpses the undead, Jim’s older brother, Philip, turns up outside Jim’s old workplace to whisk his brother off so that they can prepare themselves for what’s to come.  With Philip, Jim knows he couldn’t be in better hands in a zombie apocalypse.  After all, for years Philip has been zombie obsessed.  He’s watched enough zombie films to know what to look out for.  And he’s read enough books about zombies to know what not to do.  He’s even equipped himself with all the supplies necessary to survive this thing.  And that’s exactly what he plans for the two of them to do – survive.  And now’s the time to instigate ‘The Plan’.

The day has only just begun, but the two of them are already getting themselves sorted to get the hell out of there.  Philip has a plan to head to Rhayader and from there head down the River Elan until they find an isolated spot to hold up in.

However, with the blood red sky that declared the first day of the apocalypse now fading away, it’s not just the undead that the remaining survivors have to look out for.  A tall man wearing a hooded white robe, with his face half covered by a brown scarf, is stalking through the streets.  Alongside him are his brothers in the apocalypse.  The Children of Ishtar.  And together they are tracking down any survivors in order to spare them the horrors that are yet to come.  Those they find will soon become one of the Ascended.  Those they manage to track down will not be long of this world.  For they are on a holy mission.  Alongside the undead, they are here to kill off what remains of the human race…

DLS Review:
I have to admit that I love a good zombie apocalypse novel.  I’ve read more than my fair share of them – nevertheless I still get a thrill out of the whole premise.  However, zombie apocalypse novels are pretty much two a penny these days.  As such, any novel that’s going to join the vast swathes of similarly themed tales out there really has its work cut out for it if the author wants their offering to stand out from the rest.

Luckily Duncan P. Bradshaw’s ‘Class Three’ does exactly that.  In essence what you have is a cross between Simon Pegg’s ‘Shaun Of The Dead’ (2004) and Simon Law’s ‘Bringing Forth The End Of Days’ (2009).  Absolutely crammed full of witty quotations from a variety of comedy sketches and cult films, Bradshaw constantly brings out a geekish smirk-of-recognition from the reader which works incredibly well with the light-hearted and jovial vibe of the tale.

The character of Philip is absolutely superb.  Even though he’s only the brother of Jim (who’s undoubtedly the novel’s principal protagonist); after just a handful of initial chapters Philip begins to nudge his way to the front of the characters, via his quirky quick-witted jokes and off-the-cuff remarks.  Jim Taylor remains the tale’s principal character (the Simon Pegg character if you like), however the comedy that really makes the whole story work so damn well is indisputably all from Philip (the Nick Frost style side-kick).

Furthermore the similarities and unashamed take-offs from ‘Shaun Of The Dead’ (2004) don’t end there.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re all done in a very respectful homage-like way.  And as a whole it all works in the novel’s favour.  Instead of the ‘Winchester Tavern’ you have a fight with the undead in the beer-soaked confines of ‘The Salisbury Arms’.  The broken-romance substory between Jim and Sophie mirrors that of the one in ‘Shaun Of The Dead’ (2004).  Even the comically slow realisation of the zombie apocalypse echoes that of Pegg’s film.

However, interspersed between all of this you have two other parallel running, but altogether entirely separate narratives.  The first of these follows a murderous Doomsday Cult who are going around the place executing any survivors they can find.  These chapters are pretty much dripping with blood and violence throughout – giving the novel a wonderfully gore-drenched edge.

The other narrative jumps to the perspective of one particular zombie (who had previously been a middle-aged man named Colin).  We follow Colin as he wanders about the streets together with another flesh-hungry zombie who Bradshaw merely refers to as Ms Pyjamas.  Although purposefully laced with gorylicious black comedy, there’s nevertheless something quietly touching about how these two zombies go about their zombie-business together; which simply adds another layer to the novel as a whole.

At the end of the day this novel is pure unadulterated flesh-chomping entertainment from start to finish.  To be honest it’s hard not to smirk all the way through it.  In fact, at times Philip’s quick-witted geeky jokes become laugh out loud hilarious.  And gluing all this witty character dialogue together is an action-rich zombie tale, awash with guts, gore and visceral bloodshed.  With hints of inspiration from the likes of David Wellington, Simon Law and David Moody – Bradshaw has penned a first instalment that’s hard not to love.

If you enjoy a blood-drenched story involving a zombie apocalypse, with a thick wedge of comedy thrown into it, then this is one you’ll not want to miss.  Plenty of guts, a shed load of violence, and doused from head to toe in comedy.  Absolutely superb stuff.

The novel runs for a total of 235 pages.

© DLS Reviews

Other ‘Class Three Apocalypse’ instalments:

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