Mary has lived her entire life in an isolated village, surrounded by the Forest of Hands and Teeth. The Unconsecrated teem around the village’s fences, trying desperately to get in. It is only the protection of the Guardians and the guidance of the Sisterhood that has protected the village all of these years. Mary has always been discontented with the quiet village life, convinced that there is a great world outside, one free of the Unconsecrated. She dreams of the ocean. But the Sisterhood has been keeping secrets from the villagers, secrets that could have deadly consequences.
When the fences fail and the village is overrun, Mary barely escapes with her life, along with a handful of others. The villagers who escape with her are a complicated bunch, including both the man Mary is betrothed to (“marriage in our village was not about love, it was about committment”) and the man that she passionately loves.
While the word “zombies” is used only in the author’s acknowledgments, it will be instantly obvious to fans of the genre that the Unconsecrated are the walking dead. While there have been wry comments that the tide is turning and “zombies are the new vampire”, it is still relatively rare to find a well-written book with zombies as a main theme. While I did not always resonate with the emotional roller coaster Mary was riding, I suspect that that had more to do with my own frame of mind than anything to be found in the writing. The action sequences – as well as the frantic choices and repercussions that accompany the danger – were my favorite parts of the book.