Fire & Ash by Jonathan Maberry

Fire & Ash by Jonathan Maberry

Title: Fire & Ash
Author: Jonathan Maberry
Series: Benny Imura, #4

In the fourth and final installment of Jonathan Maberry’s zombie apocalypse series, Benny Imura and his friends face a final battle against Saint John and the Night Church. Angry and confused over the lack of aide coming from those in charge at Sanctuary and desperate to save their friend Chong, Benny and company must venture into the unknown in search of the lost scientist Monica McReady who may have discovered a cure for the zombie plague. Meanwhile the reapers are devising a deadly plan to eradicate the last of humanity. Benny is pushed to his limits and discovers just how far he’s willing to go to stop Saint John and his army.

“I will paint you with her blood.”

I credit Jonathan Maberry’s Rot & Ruin for nurturing my like for zombies and transforming it into a full blown love-affair. The book was not centered around the fear of the dead rising, but around those who survived the cataclysmal event and despite the terrors of the outside world wanted to live. It was a book about growing up and discovering that real evil wasn’t in the reanimation of dead corpses, but in those who treated life and death like a game, who forgot that these walking cadavers were once someone’s loved-ones, and who devalued the life of the living.

And so it seems only fitting that the last confrontation for Benny not be with a horde of zombies, but with the most merciless of all enemies who doesn’t fight for entertainment or notoriety, but for the express purpose of destroying the human race. Saint John stands in direct contrast to Benny and his friends, who push forward with the hope of ending the plague and having a future. I found the leader of the Night Church to be a terrifying antagonist not because of his goal but because of the pleasure his own ruthless rampages produced.

The final change in Benny’s character comes in Fire & Ash and I can’t help but mourn the loss of his innocence. There are times when you see that impulsive, petulant child express itself and I felt something a little like hope. It was hope that if they could find a cure that perhaps Benny could still go back to being that naive kid he was in Rot & Ruin. But the real lesson of Fire & Ash is one of sacrifice, of burning that bridge between childhood and adulthood not because you want to but because you have to in order to defeat an enemy as inhumane as it is relentless.

This series never failed to grab hold of me. My expectations for a satisfactory zombie book are directly linked to these books. I enjoyed every one and am still in shambles over the departure of a certain character. And before I end this review I must give kudos to Jonathan Maberry for The Walking Dead reference. You made me smile.

Rating: 4/5