Emily Wesley Stringer’s self-published debut novel, The Bride Wore Brains, is a fun dark comedy with a heavy zombie element.
Kat’s best friend, Claire, is getting married. Like any good Maid of Honor, Kat is doing her best to ensure that the wedding goes smoothly and that the bride has her day. When the guest begin to turn into zombies, however, Kat finds that her work is cut out for her.
This gorefest clocks in at just 70 pages, but the length doesn’t hinder the story in any way. The plot is solid, and I rallied behind Kat right away. The motley crew of characters that she fights beside are engaging and witty. I found the dialogue sharp, appropriately graphic (don’t act like you’re gonna sugarcoat your words during the end times), and I laughed out loud several times. My favorite character was the one named after a sex toy; I’ll let you figure out who that is when you read the book. The minutiae of wedding planning is laid out carefully and repeatedly, allowing for me to really empathize with the Maid of Honor and her impossible task of making sure the day goes off without a hitch. The clever banter between the members of the wedding party kept the talk of bouquets and catering from getting too monotonous, while certain doom lurked on the periphery of each scene, slowly ambling toward a bloody, showstopping (and wedding-stopping) climax.
Unfortunately, this wonderful story has its share of awkward syntax and grammatical errors; so much that I had to re-read whole paragraphs at a time. At times, this took me out of the story, and hurt the flow of the narrative. I’m not sure if this was some kind of stylistic choice on the part of the author or not. Regardless, it affected my reading experience a little bit, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it to potential readers.
When it comes to genre, Stringer is fully aware of her audience. She knows that when we jump into a zombie story, no matter how light it is, we want blood and guts. When the dead walk, it ain’t pretty, and the cleanup is not all Windex and feather dusters. In this case, it involves a chainsaw and a machete. When it all goes down, the author is not worried about our precious sensitivities; tendons snap, blood gushes, and power tools slice with no censorship whatsoever. It’s in-your-face and it’s a good ‘ol time.
Another note about the climax: I like to listen to music while I read, and on this particular evening I had my player set on random. As bodies were dropping (and rising) and blood was being spilled, “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers, came on. I kid you not, this is the most perfect song for the wedding-day mayhem that occurs in this book. I laughed so hard my sides hurt, and I ended up putting the song on a loop so I could keep the on-point soundtrack going. I swear to the old gods and the new, if a movie version of this book is ever made, they better play this song during the slow-motion bloodbath.
Overall, this is a solid story full of pull-no-punches dark humor and gratuitous fun, but it could benefit from an editor to smooth out the grammatical errors and slightly clumsy prose, so that readers can get the best experience possible and just enjoy the gory, gory ride. I’d recommend it to fans of [REC]3, Shaun of the Dead, and the Evil Dead films. Find it on Amazon.