Book Reviews,  New Releases

{Review} WHERE THE DEAD GO TO DIE, by Aaron Dries & Mark Allan Gunnells

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

{Review} WHERE THE DEAD GO TO DIE, by Aaron Dries & Mark Allan GunnellsWHERE THE DEAD GO TO DIE Published by Crystal Lake Publishing on November 28, 2016
Genres: Dark Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Psychological Horror, Zombies
Pages: 197
Format: eBook
Buy on Amazon

There are monsters in this world. And they used to be us. Now it's time to euthanize to survive in a hospice where Emily, a woman haunted by her past, only wants to do her job and be the best mother possible.

Post-infection Chicago. Christmas.

Inside The Hospice, Emily and her fellow nurses do their rounds. Here, men and women live out their final days in comfort, segregated from society, and are then humanely terminated before fate turns them into marrow-craving monsters known as ‘Smilers.’ Outside these imposing walls, rabid protesters swarm with signs, caught up in the heat of their hatred.

Emily, a woman haunted by her past, only wants to do her job and be the best mother possible. But in a world where mortality means nothing, where guns are drawn in fear and nobody seems safe anymore – at what cost will this pursuit come? And through it all, the soon to be dead remain silent, ever smiling. Such is their curse.

Euthanize to survive

This emotional, political novel comes from two of horror’s freshest voices, and puts a new spin on an eternal topic: the undead. In the spirit of George A Romero meets Jack Ketchum, Where the Dead Go to Die it is an unforgettable epilogue to the zombie genre, one that will leave you shaken and questioning right from wrong…even when it’s the only right left.

It won't be long before that snow-speckled ground will be salted by blood.

WHERE THE DEAD GO TO DIE, by Aaron Dries & Mark Allan Gunnells, is a zombie novel, of a sort, but unlike any of the cliched stereotypes I’ve become inured to. The opening sentence alone baited me in: “The dead roam those halls.”

In a world where people infected with a certain virus–one that causes excruciating pain, a rictus smile to permanently form on their faces, and severe nightmares–soon die, only to revive as a particularly nasty form of bone-eating zombie, people are living in a constant state of fear. What makes this novel stand out so well to me is that it isn’t about the “zombies” after they become as such, but rather the horrible agony they endure BEFORE the initial death and change occur. This book takes into account not only the feelings and emotions of those unaffected, but also those that ARE, and know what is going to inevitably happen to them.

“. . . the world had claws. Complacency killed.”

No longer could one go to the park without being vigilant to the possibility of an attack. Some clung to the old ways, afraid to admit what was happening around them.

“. . . formalities were important. They help trick us into thinking things are normal again.

The rest of the population branches off into two opposing viewpoints: those that want humane treatment for the infected until the end, and those that want to see their heads blown off at the first signs of infection. Hoping to make a positive difference, Emily begins work at an understaffed Hospice for the “Smilers”, as they are “unofficially” called. Along with her is her daughter, Lucette.

With a cast of characters whose emotions are so brilliantly portrayed–even those infected–the authors give us a story so powerful in its telling that you will not want to put it down once you start. We have here the fierce love of a mother for her only child, the bond between those who are aware that they have but a limited time to live, the care and compassion of those trying to ease the suffering of the infected, and of course, the horrifying “mob mentality” of those who want to rip apart the victims of this infection, on sight.

“. . . What was it about a common cause that made everyone look like everyone else? Hatred devolved people somehow . . . Made them legion . . . “

Everyone in this story is human.

And every one of them have their flaws.

The only difference is on whether or not they want–or are able to–hide them.

“. . . Who needed a silly disguise when one was already so adept at wearing the mask of complacency?”

Young Lucette is much like any child of ten; curious, sometimes spiteful, and quite quick to learn how to take advantage of a situation. She once mused: “. . . there were advantages to keeping quiet; one of the many ways of attaining knowledge was to become invisible and let the real world play out.”

Aside from some flashbacks of Emily and Lucette’s past, the novel takes place primarily in and around the Hospice building. You can practically smell the scents and the odor of death filling the halls. Yet these workers keep on. It was not unusual to have a family member “dump” some infected relative at their door, and never again visit. The sorrow I felt for these people was genuine–even knowing how they would turn out if not “terminated” just before the final change.

“. . . The source of her bitterness was how two people could read the same text and interpret the words so differently. And yet they don’t realize the truth . . .

This novel will put you through innumerable emotions. The collaboration between the two authors worked so well, I’m intrigued to see what they come out with next.

And that ending . . . nothing short of perfection, in my humble opinion.

Highly recommended!

About Aaron Dries

Avid traveler, former pizza boy, retail clerk, kitchen hand, aged care worker, video director and copywriter, Aaron Dries was born and raised in New South Wales, Australia. When asked why he writes horror, his standard reply is that when it comes to scaring people, writing pays slightly better than jumping out from behind doors. He is the author of the award-winning House of Sighs, and his subsequent novels, The Fallen Boys and A Place for Sinners are just as–if not more–twisted than his debut. Feel free to drop him a line at He won’t bite. Much.

About Mark Allan Gunnells

Mark Allan Gunnells loves to tell stories. He has since he was a kid, penning one-page tales that were Twilight Zone knockoffs. He likes to think he has gotten a little better since then. He loves reader feedback, and above all he loves telling stories. He lives in Greer, SC, with his husband Craig A. Metcalf.


I am an avid reader/reviewer and collector of books--primarily horror, supernatural, and supernatural-themed thrillers.

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