Beneath Blood and Bone, by Madeline Sheehan and Claire C. Riley

beneath blood and bone

Grade: A-

Doing it at: 73%

Catnip: For Your Own Protection, Older Man, Post-apocalyptic, Tattoos, Beards, Widower, Zombies

Shame Scale: Zero shame

Fantasy Cast: Andrew Lincoln, Lucy Hale

Book Description:

It is the end of the world. 

They call him Eagle, like the grand and beautiful bird that symbolizes freedom. During these dark times, when humanity is experiencing nothing but suffering, a man with such a powerful name should be a beacon of hope, yet he is anything but. 

Her name is Autumn, but she hasn’t said this name or much of anything else in the four years since the fall of civilization. A shell of her former self, living wild in a cave at the bottom of a ravine, Autumn is accustomed to being alone. She prefers it, actually, especially when her only options for company either try to kill her, or worse, to lock her up inside their walls. 

Captured by Eagle’s people, Autumn is suddenly thrust back into the land of the living, but she would hardly call it living. The community of Purgatory is full of sinners, the most evil of whom seem to have set their sights on her. 

In an act born of anger and defiance, Eagle becomes Autumn’s unexpected savior, forcing these two solitary people into each other’s broken worlds. Neither knows quite what to make of the other, but one thing is certain. To survive Purgatory, they must learn how to rely on each other, a feat that could possibly teach them both how to live again

This book started popping up all over my news feeds, and the cover caught my eye because it looks like some serious hipster beard porn you’d see on Instagram. We’ve admittedly got a bit of a thing for beard porn. Then I realized that it’s post-apocalyptic, hinting-at-Zombies romance, and I had to have it. Because I have a bit of a thing thing for zombie books. Good zombie books, shitty zombie books, zombie comics – I love them all. Zombies and trashy romance, that’s me. I like to think that I’m one of the only people out there who collects zombie books and stepbrother romances.

This book drops you right into the story and assumes you are intelligent enough to figure out whatever the fuck is happening from the clues they give you – it’s a bit disorienting, but I adore that. It’s the second book in a series of standalone’s, and there was a brief moment of panic when I started thinking that maybe I shouldn’t have broken my rule and read this series out of order, but I was able to keep up. I’m pretty sure that Eagle, our main character was featured in the first book, but I didn’t feel like it was a giant hinderance to be missing that bit of backstory.

The story takes place in a dystopian community called Purgatory. There are walls to protect them from the undead, but inside things are grim. There’s prostitution, violence, and laws that are almost biblical. Eagle is one of the original founders, but he is so filled with anger and hatred that he avoids relationships, keeps to himself, and lives by his own rules. 

Dying was a messy and painful business for most, but not nearly as painful as living was. Nothing could touch the incessant throbbing ache that another day here on hell offered, not even death.

Obviously, he’s not a glass half full kind of guy.

Eagle is walking around one morning when some guys drag over a filthy young girl who was captured out beyond the fences for him to deal with. She is literally covered in feces, and Eagle is all, “LOL Nope. Give her to the brothel.” Because in Purgatory, if you’re a pretty young thing with no man to claim you, you work on your back.

So they drag Autumn over to the brothel and attempt to wash her off so they can see what they’ve got under there. And Autumn is not having it. She is essentially feral, having gone a wee bit crazy living out in the wild by herself. Very reminiscent of Nell. Her shit camouflage was her protection; it kept the zombies from smelling her and allowed her to hide. So when a bunch of strangers kidnap her and attempt to wash off the only protection she knows (so they can rape her), she goes bananas: hissing, biting, clawing, etc – and manages to escape.

Eagle later finds her collapsed in a field near his house, bleeding from a stab wound, and for some reason he can’t explain, he decides to take her home, clean her up, and take care of her wounds.

The romance between the two is extremely slow to take; Autumn keeps behaving like a trapped animal, hissing, fighting, and smearing shit on herself when left by alone, and Eagle is less than patient, and is all, “For fucks sake, maybe I should just kill you.”

Unfazed, his expression hard and cruel, he gripped both my shoulders roughly and proceeded to drag me across the room. “They’re gone!” he shouted. “The biters are gone, and now you’re just an idiot covered in shit for no damn reason!”

So you can see that they had a long row to hoe before anything remotely sexy could be considered believable. Eagle takes on the role of Autumn’s protector, while she tries to integrate back into life with other humans. It’s emotional, it’s sweet, and somehow this zombie romance novel had the most realistic relationship I’ve read in a while.

I loved this book. It was so very different from anything I’ve ever read, and really, really well done. The characterizations were wonderful, and the back and forth between crazy Autumn and taciturn Eagle was a real treat. The romantic plot blended seamlessly with the larger ‘danger’ plot, and I found myself unable to put it down. We’re eager to read some other books by this duo – I went ahead and loaded Shut Up and Kiss Me on my Kindle so that will probably be showing up on the blog soon.

Check it out:

Amazon • iBooks

2 thoughts on “Beneath Blood and Bone, by Madeline Sheehan and Claire C. Riley

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