The Living Dead (Tor Books) is a new novel from Romero and New York Times bestselling author Daniel Kraus, set in the present day as a zombie plague starts to take over. It begins when medical examiners discover the body of a dead man that, of course, doesn't stay dead and continues on in Romero's idea of zombies seen in his innovative, socially-conscious horror films such as Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. But, The Living Dead takes it all in a new direction.
Romero felt that a novel could tell the story of the rise of zombies and the fall of humanity in a way that a movie could not due to the constraints of filmmaking, but unfortunately, he did not finish the story before his death in 2017.
A month after Romero's passing, his widow, Suzanne Desrocher-Romero, asked frequent Guillermo del Toro collaborator and lifelong Romero fan Kraus to help finish complete the book.
"On Aug. 7, 2017, I picked up the phone and the voice on the other end changed my life," says Kraus, in a press release. "I'd spent my whole life learning from George A. Romero. ... George's films not only helped construct my moral compass, but also radically shaped my artistic vision. So that 2017 phone call — coming less than a month after George's death — was the closing of a giant circle."
Romero had written less than half of the novel, but had left notes on its completion.
"To me, it was the chance to work with my idol — though I'd miss his presence with every typed word," says Kraus. "It was also a chance to put an entire life of studying George Romero films to the test."
The Living Dead is an action-packed epic that's hard to tell where Romero's voice ends and Kraus' voice starts. Readers follow the characters as they experience an oddly relatable global pandemic, and those who survive aren't fending against just the undead, they are also fighting against mob-militia brutality. Somehow, Romero's storytelling still manages to be extremely timely.