Zombie Book Review: The King of Clayfield

While it’s often fun to read stories about people who are far more qualified than you at surviving the zombie apocalypse (or far less qualified than the average person, for that matter), it’s often refreshing to find one with a protagonist who is not only a normal person, but isn’t written in such a way as to be insulting to normal people. The King of Clayfield gives us just such a character, a small town, liberal-leaning museum director who lacks practical skills, but it smart enough to learn as he goes. That is, if he lives long enough.

You know it’s going to be a different kind of zombie survival story right from the beginning. Instead of a snapshot of life before the apocalypse, or an in medias res action scene, we meet our main character as he’s talking about the proper way to harvest sweet potatoes. Don’t let that dissuade you; there’s plenty of action coming down the pike.

Things start out typically enough. There’s some sort of outbreak that’s making people sick, and pretty soon those sick people get violent, and things go downhill from there. Our hero sort of bumbles through things with the help of someone who actually knows a thing or two about survival, then makes it home and gets on Facebook. Quite an inauspicious beginning for a storied zombie survivor, but it rang true to me.

While it seems like the protagonist is hopelessly out of his league, he proves his worth soon enough. He starts the story with some resources printed off the internet and the small amount of stuff in his house. Unlike the typical prepper, however, his home isn’t filled with weapons or stockpiled food. He’s got some video games, a bit of food that is rapidly spoiling without power, and some mostly-inappropriate clothing (although he does have some work gloves and the like, which are huge benefits).

What I really liked about this book is that the survivors are constantly working to better their situation. They gather not just supplies of immediate need, but they also try to nurture relationships with other people and build up long term resources. They’re not just focused on survival, these people want to live and rebuild. They’re thinking about starting a farm, not looting Wal-Mart (although they also loot Wal-Mart).

They also look at things a little more objectively than the average zombie-survivor. For instance, early in The King of Clayfield, our hero finds a house that has a working windmill providing electrical power. While this is a tremendous resource, it’s also clearly visable from a large distance, making it just as big a liability. I won’t spoil whether this factors into the story later on.

If I had a complaint about The King of Clayfield, it would be that the protagonist seems to be awfully lucky with the ladies. I can appreciate that the circumstances are going to make people a little less choosey, and that in a situation like that, people are going to band together closely and quickly, but it just seems a little too much like a dream comes true to me.

That said, it’s a pretty minor criticism in an otherwise extremely entertaining book.

Grade: 4.5 zombie heads out of 5


Stephanie Marshall

I love these books! I have read both The King of Clayfield and All that I See….I can’t wait for the next installment!!!


I didn’t realize it was part of a series when started reading it, not I want to check out the rest.

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