A Plague of Zombies by Diana Gabaldon

July 22, 2013 Blogging, Historical Fiction, Mythology, Supernatural, Zombies 19

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

Ordinarily, Mondays bum me out, but not today. Today is a shortened work week for me because I’m going to BlogHer on Thursday (wahoo!) Have I mentioned that I’m excited? To kick the week off on a happy note, today we’re going to talk about Diana Gabaldon’s novella, A Plague of Zombies.

I’m a big giant fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. She’s done a spin off series based on Lord John Grey (of which I have only read one… The one where studly Jamie Fraser featured prominently, natch.) Periodically she’ll also publish novellas to compliment the main Outlander books. It’s a good strategy, because we fans are positively RAVENOUS for new material. It certainly didn’t hurt anything that this particular novella also featured ZOMBIES. (In case y0u need reminding of my adoration of the undead see HERE and HERE.)


A Plague of Zombies takes place sometime during the Voyager sagaWhile Jamie and Claire are off doing other things, Lord John has been sent to Jamaica. In the 18th century, Jamaica isn’t exactly a fabulous tourist destination. Jamaica at this time is full of wealthy European landowners, slaves, escaped slaves, a crap ton of bugs, and Mrs. Abernathy (formerly known as the wily and trecherous Geillis Duncan.) Lord John never does anything without having weird crap happen to him. He’s a magnet for this sort of thing.

Shortly after he arrives on the island, he is visited by what appears to be a zombie. Oh yeah. We are talking stinky, undead, flesh eating zombie. The island’s African population is freaked the frick out by the prospect of zombies (though really, who isn’t?) Lord John is nothing if not practical, so he decides to investigate the matter further.

This leads him to an encounter with Mrs. Abernathy AKA Geillis Duncan (from the original Oulander!) He notices that she’s a wee bit over familiar with the ideas of curses, zombies, and general scary doings… Also that she appears to be carrying an advanced case of syphilis. (Too bad Claire isn’t around with her homemade penicillin, amiright?! Actually, Geillis was crazy before the syphilis and given her penchant for trouble making, the penicillin would be better used on someone who didn’t systematically eliminate her husbands… )

Imagine this fella with red hair, because he'll be playing Jamie in the Starz production of Outlander. (Source)

Imagine this fella with red hair, because he’ll be playing Jamie in the Starz production of Outlander. (Source)

So. Lord John has a mystery to solve, and solves it rather tidily, as he is wont to do. All in all it was a nice little story, a pleasant revisiting of familiar characters to tide us over until March 2014, when Written in My Own Heart’s Blood comes out. The very best part of this novella, though? Bonus sneak preview of the new book. EEEP! Even if the novella had been a complete dud, it would have been worth it to get a glimpse of the shenanigans about to ensue. (Of course, Jem is still stuck in that blasted tunnel… The suspense, Diana! Have mercy on my neurotic soul!)

Anybody else out there picked up A Plague of Zombies? Any other rabid fans want to comment on the newly cast Jamie? Personally, I think a good hair colorist and consume designer can pull it off, but what say you, Bookworms?

19 Responses to “A Plague of Zombies by Diana Gabaldon”

  1. Wayne

    To do useful research on Zombies before reading this novella, I suggest two things: (1.) See the 1932 movie “White Zombie” up on youtube.com Bela Lugosi portrays “Murder Legendre” the zombie master and it is a hoot! (2.) Pick up a copy of *The Serpent And The Rainbow* which is a book written by ethnobotanist and researcher Wade Davis and published in 1985 who meets a real live Zombie in Haiti and discovers how it’s done.

  2. Ashley F

    OMG is all I have to say. I haven’t seen him act but the fact that he is authentically Scottish is a big plus in his favor. I mean if they had cast an American to do a bad accent I would have screamed. That being said, I always imagined Jamie being a bit more imposing looking.

    • Words for Worms

      Poor Gabaldon has been hearing trash talk about him not being a natural redhead, but seriously. Hair dye. The authenticity on the Scottish part is SO much more important. She addressed the imposing part too, that he was so so so young in the first book and sort of grows into himself as things progress. I can buy it.

  3. Sarah Says Read

    I should re-read all the Lord John books and novellas… I’m itching to re-read Outlander, but I’m makin myself wait a while.

    I see that they cast Jamie… he’s better looking than a lot of the other candidates I’ve seen around the internet. Still not how he looks in my head, of course. I’m afraid to see the cast all over the place because I don’t want to picture the actors in my head when I read… that fear actually has me thinking I might never try the tv series… eek!

    • Words for Worms

      It’s so hard to see a cast for characters you’ve already imagined and are so invested in. I wouldn’t blame you if you couldn’t bring yourself to watch it. How about this: I’ll watch it first and let you know if you’re going to spend the whole time wanting to stab things? I mean if it turns out to be amazing, I wouldn’t want you to miss it!

      • Sarah Says Read

        YES. I’m going to be waiting eagerly for everyone’s opinions, since I wont be able to watch it until it comes out of DVD anyways (I don’t even have basic cable, much less Starz, lol). I hope its good, whether I see it eventually or not…

    • Words for Worms

      Yeah, I was like, “did she seriously just put zombies into Outlander?!” But you know, she’s brilliant and somehow makes it something that isn’t completely ridiculous.

  4. Rory

    I hadn’t heard casting had been announced (or maybe only Jamie). But he’s good looking enough to pull it off and if Gabaldon says he’s great, I believe her.

    I never knew she could incorporate zombies…nicely done.

  5. Heather

    First off, I liked this one a lot. Lord John is one of my favorite characters, so anything that includes him or William is good to go in my book. Lord John gets in all kinds of trouble and I love watching him try to get out of it. Ironically, I feel like he and Clare are kind of the perfect foils for Jamie in that respect.

    I was also super excited about the snippets from Written in my Own Heart’s Blood at the end. What did I tell you about Jem? I mean, at first I was reading and I was all excited that Jem was okay… and then it just cuts out and still leaves him alone in the darkness only now he’s aware of what’s in the tunnel with him. I cannot handle this!!!! Plus, Jaime and Lord John arguing? William’s in a whore house? There was so much excitement in those few pages and we never even saw Roger or Brianna. Ah! I can’t wait for this book to come out.

    Oh, and I like the guy they’ve cast for Jamie. I always pictured the younger Jaime in my heard as a guy with a swimmer’s build and great eyes… and so far he delivers.

    • Words for Worms

      I think Jamie will forgive John pretty quickly, though Jenny might have to smack him over the head with some of her patented sassy common sense first. And William! Ugh. I mean, I suppose it makes sense that his whole world is turned upside down, but sheesh. He’s going to have to overcome this spoiled rich boy angle or I’m going to pop him one! And JEMMY! Why why why must he be in the tunnel? And what would even happen if he went through the portal thingie since he’s underground? Would he be stuck underground 200 years ago? Because I”m getting claustrophobic!

      • Heather

        Yes, I feel claustrophobic for Jemmy. I just hope he’s headed in the right direction and away from the portal thingie this time around. I don’t want to even THINK about what could happen to him if he went back while he was underground. It just makes me even more nervous, although I am hoping if he does get transported somewhere, he goes back to America and Jaime and Claire. He thinks about his Grandda a lot, and we all know that focusing on a person directs the where/when that you end up. So I have hope for Jem. A lot of anxiety, but still, there’s hope. I also have a lot of worry for Brianna and Mandy being stuck at Lallybroch alone.. and then what about Roger? What if he goes back for no reason? He can’t be separated from Brianna forever, right? I’m just sensing that I am going to have a lot of anxiety until this book comes out.

        I am hoping that since Jenny is back with Claire, those two will figure out a way to make everything right. I mean, Jenny Murray gets things done, so if she can make it to America and fix things with Claire in just a few paragraphs, I think that she’ll be able to get Claire focused and fix all the issues in their timeline.

  6. Rachel Hamilton

    OMG. I had forgotten you told me they were doing a TV series!!?! That makes me nervous and excited. Nervous because can it ever compare to the visions in my head? and excited to see it come to life! Oh man, now I want to go home and read!

    • Words for Worms

      Tee hee. I take immense pleasure knowing that I got you hooked on these books! I basically didn’t let you leave my house without them. Glorious.

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