You know as much as I do that love blinds us from the hideous truths around us. Now, those truths happen to be actual monsters.
The zombie apocalypse is a tired sub-genre of horror writing that tends to fall into the category of, “if I’ve seen or read one piece of zombie-related media, I’ve seen them all.”
The thing about Of Lone Headstones is that it’s not like any other zombie apocalypse scenario I’ve ever seen before. This is a story that is told with a lot of heart and comes from a very personal place, and this is demonstrated very well in author Jorge Bocanegra’s debut read.
Bocanegra is also a senior contributor by and large to the popular video game news website, Rely on Horror, which has garnered a tremendous following due to its primary focus on horror video games.
FUN FACT: I was a contributor to this website a couple of years ago myself.
Of Lone Headstones follows the story of Joel, a young man who falls victim to the gnawing voices in his head that cast doubts upon his relationship with Alex. The two have spent three years together in a committed relationship, but that doesn’t stop the constant barrage of doubt in Joel’s mind that Alex will up and leave for something better.
These fears and self-doubts manifest itself into a full on zombie apocalypse, which takes us into the second act of the story and carries us through right into the cliffhanger ending, as Joel rushes to save his girlfriend from the zombie invasion, while also coming face to face with an endless array of personal demons.
The star of this story is not the zombies itself, but our protagonist Joel. This is Joel’s journey, and it’s a journey that many of us partake on in our everyday lives. I have too been in Joel’s shoes as I battled the relentless onslaught of self-doubt and interpersonal chaos that clouded my judgment and ruined a lot of my relationships.
This is not a story for everyone, but it is a story that I can relate to in the sense of understanding Joel’s mind and how the gears turn in his head. Understanding how one of the most important relationships in his life manifested itself into a monster that was hell bent on killing him is an extremely powerful image.
But I think there’s an even more powerful message that comes from this novel, and when I read it, I felt that it propelled this story immensely.
In the last few pages of the story, Alex tells Joel that love blinds us from the hideous truths around us. Such a powerful message is something that is so true. We as humans are selfless creatures that are built to love and to protect our closest assets, including property, family and money. When those aspects are thrown into a spiral and we are left struggling to collect the pieces of the broken puzzle, it could lead to our very downfall, draining our energy and becoming costly to our own well-being.
And in turn I feel this could explain a lot about Alex’s character for taking such a strong stance. We aren’t given any real backstory to Alex’s upbringing, but with a message like that, I feel that Alex comes from a dark place, and Joel has become so attached to that that he finds himself revisiting dark places he never once imagined existed.
I think that if I were to put this into perspective, I feel that if we were to see Joel and Alex return in a potential sequel, the stakes will have to be raised even higher. I would’ve liked to have seen more from Alex’s character, as I mentioned above. As well, I think Joel should continue to battle these demons and eventually overcome them.
But I think that there are real questions that should be asked, and I feel as though the relationship between Joel and Alex is also one that could raise even more dire consequences, like perhaps Joel coming to a realization that Alex may have more influence over his innermost darkest demons that he wants to believe.
As for the underlying zombie narrative, I felt that the writing was very well done. The environments and the decay were descriptive and really helped me paint a picture of this story page by page.
I feel that Jorge Bocanegra has a very strong debut novel under his belt and I hope that he continues to delve deeper into the darkness, because I feel as though we’ve only scratched the surface of this dark world.
‘Of Lone Headstones: Book 1’ is available on Amazon.com. Follow the link below: http://www.amazon.com/Of-Lone-Headstones-Book-Novelette-ebook/dp/B00S5WHABM
Score: 4 out of 5