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The Ghoul Archipelago by Stephen Kozeniewski

The Ghoul Archipelago

by Stephen Kozeniewski

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There are many ways to tell a story that takes place in the zombie apocalypse. Lots of these stories have to do with people struggling to find food and survive in a world that has gone crazy. Then we have stories like The Ghoul Archipelago by Stephen Kozeniewski that gives an original spin on the sub genre of zombie fiction that is extremely popular right now. Stephen’s story takes place in the South Pacific and not only deals with zombies, it also deals with pirates, virtual sex software and religion.

The story begins with a ship captain taking supplies to sell to a small remote village in the Curien islands. The villagers aren’t happy to see the ship’s crew because what they really need is food and not material items. Soon afterwords the villagers and ship’s crew are attacked by pirates. This is just the tip of the iceberg, soon we have a showdown between a billionaire looking to make a profit off the apocalypse and a ghoul worshiping cult and of course we have zombies making everything more difficult.

One thing I liked about this book is the idea that some people won’t change even as society crumbles. One of the interesting characters in this story is Rand who makes sex software and refuses to let something like the end of the world get in the way of him making money. He comes up with the idea of a program where you can have virtual sex with the undead. I loved the idea that there would still be people who would cash in on a world gone mad and I liked what he does to carry out his plans.

Speaking of mad and holding on to life before the apocalypse we also have an interesting character in a reverend named Sonntag. Like Rand he is holding on to his former life but unlike Rand he seems to have a lot of people who hate him. That being said, he still has a large flock of followers. He is starting to question his beliefs as he witnesses the collapse of society but he still finds a way to use the apocalypse to his advantage by saying that he can offer salvation through god. Rand and Sonntag were the best parts of this book, they were believable and I think if the zombie apocalypse happened, there would be people like this out there that would use the end to their advantage.

The Ghoul Archipelago gets off to a rough start, there are so many characters and different storylines introduced that I found myself getting confused as to who’s who. The story gets better as it goes along though and after a bit I was hooked. You have to give the author points for originality and I liked the idea that even as society crumbles there will still be certain people out there who are just trying to make a little money. I also like the setting in this story, it was nice to see a zombie story that wasn’t all set in a city or in the Northern hemisphere. There is a lot going on in this book and if you like zombies its worth your time. ( )
  dwatson2 | May 17, 2015 |
I am, by nature, a horror fanatic. Books. Movies. Comics. Memorabilia. I received a copy of Stephen Kozeniewski's The Ghoul Archipelago to read in exchange for an honest review. I am going to sound ignorant as an author, I know. But one of the first things I needed to do before even reading was look up the word "Archipelago." It was not a term I was familiar with. (Rather than ignorantly read anything, I prefer to look up words I do not know. Helps me with my learn-something-new-every-day motto).

An Archipelago is a group of islands. Maybe you knew that. If not, I saved you the time of searching for it on Google. Below is the story synopsis found on the back of the novel:

After ravenous corpses topple society and consume most of the world’s population, freighter captain Henk Martigan is shocked to receive a distress call. Eighty survivors beg him to whisk them away to the relative safety of the South Pacific. Martigan wants to help, but to rescue anyone he must first pass through the nightmare backwater of the Curien island chain.

A power struggle is brewing in the Curiens. On one side, the billionaire inventor of the mind-control collar seeks to squeeze all the profit he can out of the apocalypse. Opposing him is the charismatic leader of a ghoul-worshipping cargo cult. When a lunatic warlord berths an aircraft carrier off the coast and stakes his own claim on the islands, the stage is set for a bloody showdown.

To save the remnants of humanity (and himself), Captain Martigan must defeat all three of his ruthless new foes and brave the gruesome horrors of...The Ghoul Archipelago.

I do not think I would have been able to sum this novel up in three paragraphs like that. A lot is happening in this book. There are a ton of characters. At first, I used an index card and tried to keep track of who was who. I thought I would be overwhelmed by the names and roles. Fortunately, Kozeniewski does a pretty good job at assisting the reader in keeping the characters straight. They each have such a defined personality. That was helpful. There is more than one story taking place. The different chapters jump from story to story. It's like watching a movie. Not everything happens in front of a main character. There are pirates, and military personnel, cults and there are software designers.

The zombie aspect is creative. The apocalypse is well underway. Society is falling apart. Even in such a major mess, people work to capitalize on the disease. Bergeron wants to harness the dead for all it is worth. He strives to perfect a virtual reality "game" where one can have sex with the zombies. Reverend Sonntag proclaims the unfolding events are Biblical and the end will result with Jesus saving everyone. Martigan captains a large ship charged with delivering "cargo." And eighty survivors in need help to continue ... surviving! The climax involves an explosive finale, where the separate story lines merge!

Kozeniewski's novel is complex. The Ghoul Archipelago is not a mindless read. The unique story still contains aspects you'd expect in a zombie story. There is plenty of blood, and guts, violence and despair. It is not a novel you will read fast, but it is a story you will remember for a long time. I felt that Kozeniewski's writing is smooth and natural. Nothing forced. You can tell he knew his characters. The storyboard, or storyline map, was clear in his head. He paints the picture clearly, in time. In his time. Luckily, I have two more novels by this author-to-watch. So keep an eye on my website for additional reviews!

Phillip Tomasso
Author of Blood River and Treasure Island: A Zombie Novella
http://philliptomasso.com/ ( )
  ptom3 | May 2, 2015 |
Review copy

I love zombies, some of you may already be aware of this, and for that reason it was difficult for me to only give this read 3 Stars.

A couple months back, I was approached by author Stephen Kozeniewski to read The Ghoul Archipelago and provide an honest review. As soon as I heard it was a post apocalyptic zombie novel, I was in.

After a rather slow start, the pace did pick up, but for me the story never really came together. I found the multiple story lines to be a bit confusing at times. The overall effect was a fractured story for me.

The writing was good, sometimes it was even great, but there was so much to the story. Zombies, pirates, virtual sex-drives, a crazed religious leader, and a maniacal military man. All great story-lines, but it just seemed to spread everything a little thin. In a way The Ghoul Archipelago was a bit like going to an all-you-can-eat buffet and pigging out, only to regret it later.

The Ghoul Archipelago is available now in both paperback and ebook formats from Severed Press and through Amazon.com. If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read this one at no additional charge and if you are an Amazon Prime member you can borrow it as your monthly selection through the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

If you're a die hard zombie fan, you may want to read this book and I'm glad I read it, but I can't honestly give it my recommendation. ( )
  FrankErrington | Apr 30, 2015 |
[Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography (cclapcenter.com). I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.]

I don't actually have a lot to say about Stephen Kozeniewski's The Ghoul Archipelago, because it's based on a pretty simple premise that's easy to get across quickly -- it's another of those large epic genre thrillers that looks at how an entire section of the planet is affected by an apocalyptic event (in this case zombies in the Philippines), told through a half-dozen individual sets of characters and situations that slowly come more and more together as the book moves along, which has practically become a sub-genre unto itself in recent years because of the massive popularity of the one that started them all, Max Brooks' still phenomenal World War Z. So as such, what you think of Kozeniewski's take on it will depend entirely on what you think of people continuing to write in this genre to begin with; for while it's certainly well done, make no mistake, there's nothing really in The Ghoul Archipelago that you can't get by reading World War Z instead, which means you should only read the former if you're already a fan of this genre and don't mind books that essentially say the same thing all over again. That's not necessarily a pan of this competent and well-written novel -- after all, the very bread and butter of most genre fans is essentially the act of reading the same general story over and over again, which is the whole point it's called "genre literature" to begin with -- just that you shouldn't pick up The Ghoul Archipelago thinking you're going to get anything particularly groundbreaking, and especially if you're like me and don't particularly care for zombies as a genre trope to begin with. It should all be kept in mind when deciding whether to pick up a copy yourself or not.

Out of 10: 8.2 ( )
  jasonpettus | Feb 3, 2015 |
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