"Plague of Zombies" reactions

Here are some of my reactions to "Lord John and the Plague of Zombies".

*** SPOILERS! ***

Don't read below unless you've finished the story!

First of all, I have to say I was fascinated by the descriptions of the wildlife in this story. <g> From the snake in the opening scene, to three-inch cockroaches, deadly spiders, fugu-fish, and finally the krait....I kept thinking, "Yikes!  What next?!"  (I've never been to Jamaica, but I work with someone who grew up there.  Must remember to ask him about the fauna, one of these days. <g>) And there was plenty of humor in this story.  I found it a fast-paced and entertaining read.

(Page numbers below refer to the Nook edition, which may or may not match exactly with the hardcover.)

Warren's flight on p. 315 reminds me a bit of the scene in DRAGONFLY where Claire and Mary's attackers flee at the mention of "La Dame Blanche".

"[He] smelled strongly of ship’s reek—this composed in equal parts of sweat, sea-sickness, and sewage, well marinated in salt-water" (p. 319) - I like that.

Tom Byrd's entrance on p. 320 made me laugh.  I've missed him! <g>  And this line -- "He pointed sternly to a stool, and Lieutenant-Colonel Grey, commander of His Majesty’s forces in Jamaica, meekly obeyed the dictates of his nineteen-year-old valet." -- made me laugh even harder. ; (Nitpicker alert: I think Tom is 20, at least, by this time in 1761, but maybe Jari or someone else can confirm that? Seems to me he was 18 in "Haunted Soldier", in late 1758, but I could be wrong.)

I liked the bit on p. 328 where John thinks about not being able to go to a brothel.  We really don't often see him feeling that his sexual orientation is an inconvenience or a disadvantage.

And I love this quote: 

"Could you call a man your lover, who would never touch you—would recoil from the very thought of touching you? No. But at the same time, what would you call a man whose mind touched yours, whose prickly friendship was a gift, whose character, whose very existence, helped to define your own?" (p. 328)

Especially that last part, which helps explain John's reaction in ECHO when he thought Jamie was dead. I didn't really appreciate the depth of John's feelings for Jamie until the post-ECHO discussions on Compuserve, and this idea -- "whose character, whose very existence, helped to define your own" -- is something I had a hard time grasping at first.  (Although I do think I get it now. <g>) Good to see it stated here.

My instant reaction to the next line ("Not for the first time—and surely not for the last—he wished briefly that Jamie Fraser was dead.") was a) nervous laughter, and b) a strong desire to grab John and give him a good shake. "You IDIOT, be careful what you wish for!" <g>

The bear grease as a reminder of Manoke (p. 328) - I always like these connections between the various books and stories. <g> "He didn’t suppose he’d ever see Manoke again" made me smile, knowing it's not true.

"The house seemed to breathe around him, almost as though it were a sentient thing, and aware of him. He found the fancy unsettling." (p. 332) - interesting, and reminiscent of Roger in ECHO, thinking that Lallybroch had a sort of "playful" personality.

Lord John's encounter with the zombie was suitably spooky and unnerving. <g>

I liked Tom's reaction to drinking whisky (p. 334)

I liked Lord John's encounter with Nancy, especially this bit: "Her touch lingered on his hand, a fraction of a moment too long.  Not long enough to be blatant, but long enough for a normal man to perceive it—and Grey’s reflexes in such matters were much better developed than a normal man’s, from necessity." (p. 340) And I like the fact that John tried so hard to reveal nothing of his connection to Edward Twelvetrees, only to discover, too late, that they knew about it all along. <g>

Lord John on meeting Geillis:  "He had never been in the presence of anyone who repelled him so acutely." (p. 345)  That made me laugh.  The man has always been an astute judge of character, and his instincts are very good!

I liked this line on p. 346: "She spoke as matter-of-factly as though she had been telling him her private receipt for apple pan-dowdy or treacle-cake."

Geillis showing signs of "advanced syphilitic infection" (p. 348) - and this is what, six years or so before Claire encounters her in VOYAGER? She doesn't seem quite as menacing in this story. But I did get the impression that she enjoyed messing with Lord John's mind -- telling him the water of the spring was "bloody cold", for example, and no doubt laughing at him privately for being naive enough to believe that. <g>

I liked the bit with John dreaming an "unusually vivid erotic dream" (of Jamie, presumably) on p. 349, and the way he woke up, "Do I appear to be spurting blood or missing any necessary appendages?" is a great line.

"The teeth go in a circle" (p. 353) - like the bite mark on Jamie's arm in THE EXILE, after the wife-beating scene? <g>

"Fettes was beginning to look like a block of wood that someone had set about with a hammer and chisel." (p. 359) - this made me laugh.

The men and horses and tents and such all disappeared without Grey ever noticing? (p. 360) I'm having a hard time picturing that.  Is John really such a deep sleeper that he never heard a sound, not even from the horses?

"The shock hit Grey like a musket ball. A thump that knocked him off-balance, and the sickening knowledge of irrevocable damage done." (p. 365) - nice imagery there.

The krait - (p. 372) - Out of curiosity, I looked it up on Wikipedia and found that the krait's venom is "16 times more potent than cobra venom." (Yikes, again! <g> Like I said, I'm finding the descriptions of wildlife in this story verrrry interesting.  Learning a lot, too.)

I was surprised by Ishmael ending up with a damaged foot, because I don't recall any mention of that in VOYAGER. (p. 374) But this is a minor point.

Many thanks to Diana for a very enjoyable story! I'm not a reader of zombie or horror stories normally, but I liked this one. Can't wait to see what everybody else thinks of it!


Lara said...

Very good summary, Karen! You hit all the same points I enjoyed as well. Ishmael's foot is bothering me too. I don't have my copy of Voyager with me and I'm anxious to look it up and see if it's mentioned he is missing a foot. I find it hard to believe Herself would overlook this detail. Thanks for this review I enjoyed it and I think I'll give the story a second read. :)

Lara said...

And the part where Nancy "turned white, then red, then removed her shoe and set about the governor with the heel of it" and then Lord John said he sincerely regretted not being present to see it... this made me laugh out loud and I nearly woke up my daughter. :) I think my favorite part about Lord John is how incredibly funny he is, even though he is such a proper, serious individual.

Karen Henry said...

Lara - about Ishmael - look here for Diana's answer to that question.


slfisher said...

A krait is mentioned in the story Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling.

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