Written by: Matthew J. Barbour
The Rising: Deliverance is a novella, by Brian Keene. Originally published as a limited edition hardcover by Thunderstorm Books in 2010, it has been re-released by Deadite Press. This new edition contains the additional short stories: “The Resurrection and the Life” and “The Siqqusim who Stole Christmas.” Both these short stories, like the novella, have been previously published, but do not appear in the thematic collection The Rising: Selected Scenes from the End of the World.
For those unfamiliar with The Rising, it is an atypical zombie setting. Here, the zombies are not mindless automatons. They are inhabited by demons imbued with the knowledge of their hosts. They can speak, use tools, set traps, etc… Furthermore, the infection does not stop with humankind, but has spread to the surrounding wildlife. There are zombie rats, birds, and even zombie deer. The only advantage man has against the undead plague is that, due to rot, these creatures move slower than they had in life.
However, The Rising: Deliverance is not really a story about zombies. Instead, the narrative’s focus is on the relationships which develop between three wayward souls trapped in a church at the beginning of the outbreak. It is the story of Reverend Thomas Martin before he meets Jim Thurmond and decides to help him reach his son, Danny. In this way, it is a sort of a prequel running contemporaneous with the opening chapters of the original novel, The Rising. The story offers insight into why Reverend Martin helps and provides details to events previously only alluded to.
While the novella is in some ways a success as a standalone, it was clearly written for fans of the series. Hence, it is highly recommended that you read The Rising (and perhaps its sequel, City of the Dead) before picking up The Rising: Deliverance.
The remaining two short stories are filler. They are well-written, enjoyable, and at times whimsical reads. Yet, neither contributes in any substantial way to the underlying world. Instead, you will find zombie Lazarus and zombie Santa Claus (along with a cadre of zombie reindeer). Both are a bit more humor than horror, offering an effective counterpoint to the very somber and depressing Deliverance novella.
Reverend Martin is among the more memorable characters in The Rising. It seems only fair that he be given his own story. This is it. See Martin struggle with his faith as he comes to terms with the world crumbling around him. What purpose does God have for him in a time when the dead walk the earth?
The Rising: Deliverance is a welcome addition to The Rising universe.