Life After: The Cemetery Plot was the first in an initial trilogy of side stories that took place within Bryan Way's Life After universe in which zombie apocalypse has come to America. I read and enjoyed the first full length novel, Life After: The Arising back in April and so was happy to return to that world. At thirty four pages this is more of a short story than even a novella, unexpected but not entirely unwelcome. Being intended as a supplement to the first novel there will be some spoilers about that book in discussing this one.
Holt Prendergast is a man who seems to be in a constant battle of his own creation. After his brother-in-law dies and leaves nothing for his family, Holt puts himself on a mission to somehow rinse as much money out of him as he can. With most his wealth put into his funeral arrangements, Holt sets out to alter these as much as possible, hoping to reduce the costs. This leads to him heading to the local cemetery one dark fateful night, the night that the dead rise from their graves, with Holt finding himself at centre stage.
If you are planning to read this short story before reading The Arising then you are doing things wrong. While this could be enjoyable on its own it is the links to the wider story that I really enjoyed. When Holt heads to the gravesite the night the battle of the bands is playing at the nearby high school, the knowledge of what is going to happen made it so much more fun. I loved thinking to myself that Jeff Grey and his friends were in the area and that their story was just about to begin. Most the events here act as a prequel to The Arising, heading back further in time than the night of the arising. This also sets up what exactly caused the car accident on route 3 (something I couldn't remember but the synopsis on Amazon mentioned that), as well as the origins of patient zero who Grey and company encounter in the local hospital.
With the first full novel being written in first person, I expected this too would follow a similar format. Instead this was written in third person, and thankfully it wasn't as pompous and pretentious as Grey's edgelord musings. I was never entirely sure if that style was the author's way or the character himself, with this story not feeling pretentious at all I think it was the later. While I admit to being a bit confused just what Holt was attempting to do with his convoluted plan to claw back some money from his dead family member, the later part that has him in the middle of his own personal nightmare was as exciting as the most high paced moments in The Arising.
While Life After: The Cemetery Plot isn't an essential read, it does add some nice little reveals that retroactively make the main novel that little bit more fun. I like that the author has really thought about elements of his plot and explored their origins. This story was a nice touch that added a layer of world building that was appreciated.