The Bottom Line: A winning blend of zombie horror and archeological thriller. Fans of James Rollins and Steve Berry should move Rise of Ancients to the top of their reading list.
Rise of Ancients opens as American archeologists examine a newly received sarcophagus found near Cairo. It’s a curious specimen. Within the stone enclosure is a metal box that looks as if it might be made of 20th century stainless steel. The package comes with fascinating inscriptions in Egyptian, Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. And among them, a warning:: Enclosed within is immortal destruction. Enclosed within is Hades, the god of death.
As every horror fan knows, warnings like these will never be heeded. And to the delight of genre fans, author Allen Rebot has no mercy for Melissa and Jeremy, the first of Hades’ victims. After the first action scene, it’s clear that Rise of Ancients is in fact a fresh take on the zombie genre with some truly inspired story elements throughout.
Rebot’s hero figure is Matt Ontoradugh, whose dream life recently ended in divorce. What could possibly be worse than working for his ex-wife’s new lover? Try stumbling into the apocalypse. Shortly after Matt sees the horror Hades has wrought, he vomits, and then delivers a truly great line to sidekick Kevin: “We just saw a body that was messed up beyond belief, and you want to go back to the office to grab what?”
Throughout, Matt’s humanity – and priceless reactions to the madness of an ancient God unleashed upon the modern world – gives the book its warmth. The heft of Matt’s well-crafted story arc alone would be enough for most readers. But passages written from Hades’ point of view are what differentiates it from the majority of zombie fiction, especially when Rebot blends action with levity. In one of the book’s best laugh-out-loud moments, a man at a train station mistakes Hades’ reanimated corpse for a beggar and drops money into his lap.
In all, Rise of Ancients is an entertaining and imaginative thriller, not to mention an impressive debut. We look forward to the next installment.