Tag Archives: Justina Ireland

Book Review: Three For the Road by Justina Ireland

Three For the Road: Stories from the World of Dream Nation   

Authors: Justina Ireland

Publisher: Kindle

American release date: September 20, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Kindle/Historical Fantasy/69 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Dread South Ever since the dead began to rise from the earth, during the Battle of Gettysburg, life in the South has been less than pleasant, but it goes on. At seventeen, Louisa Aiken knows it is her duty to marry, but she doesn’t want just anyone, and finds her mother’s suggestions somewhat questionable. But she is attracted to the good-looking Everett Hayes. And, if she isn’t mistaken, he is attracted to her himself. But the shambler situation is getting worse. What’s a girl to do? Everyone knows that the girls trained at the Schools for Colored Girls have the knowledge and the training to deal with the undead, which is why people buy them as attendants. Hire them, that is. So when Everett offers to purchase such protection for Louisa, she is flattered, of course. Which is how she meets Juliet. And suddenly, nothing is the same….

Dread Quarter The people of the French Quarter consider themselves safe from the chaos taking place outside their secure walls. But Katherine Deveraux knows nothing of life outside the Quarter, so of course it’s what she wishes, more than anything. Maman has plans for her, plans that involve going to the Full Moon Ball and finding a rich white man to protect her and her family. Such men like to have wives in New Orleans to keep them busy whilst they are there on business. That is how Maman met her first and second protectors, at the ball. But Fate has other plans for Katherine, and her pretty features have just caused her to be kidnapped, and this is not quite how she wanted to leave the French Quarter….

Letters from Home Although Sue can’t read herself, she does appreciate the value in a letter. She swiped this one from Miss Preston’s desk for reasons not entirely clear to her, but its mere presence is comforting to her.  Jane McKeene used to read to her, but she’s gone now, and Katharine Deveraux along with her. They’re working at the Mayor’s house and she misses them. The sounding of the alarm bells indicate the presence of shamblers at the school. Miss Preston attempts to lead Sue and the other girls to safety. But it isn’t going to be that easy, and suddenly heading to Baltimore doesn’t seem like a great idea either. What are they to do?

This is a trio of short stories all from the world of Dread Nation. I would definitely read those two books first before reading this one. The stories add depth to some of the characters, and fill in some back story. I enjoyed each and every one of them. They are a must read for anyone who loves Justina Ireland’s worldbuilding and Dread Nation. I sincerely hope there will be a Dread Nation 3, and more of these not-to-be-missed side stories.

Book Review: Deathless Divide (Dread Nation #2) by Justina Ireland

Deathless Divide ( Dread Nation #2)

Authors: Justina Ireland

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

American release date: April 6, 2021

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/Young Adult Zombie Fiction/560 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The Civil War has been called… on account of the dead! Ever since the dead first began to rise from the fields of Gettysburg, nothing has been the same. But sadly, some things do remain the same. Slavery may be illegal, but blacks and Indians are still downtrodden, second-class citizens, and they’re being thrown into the front lines to combat the dead menace.

Jane McKeene and Katherine Devereaux have been trained at the renowned Miss Preston’s School for Combat in Baltimore. But Jane’s impulsive and rash nature in regards to a certain young man named Jackson see them shipped out West to a supposed haven from the dead by the name of Summerland. Unfortunately, this is not the paradise it was intended to be. Things go from bad to worse, and the girls and their friends escape and head out to nearby Nicodemus.

As they travel, Jackson suddenly tries to dissuade them from going to Nicodemus, which makes no sense to Jane, but the stubborn boy refuses to talk… until he does, and what he tells her well nigh breaks her heart. No wonder he didn’t want to let her know the truth. Why did she ever trust him to begin  with?

The road to Nicodemus is not an easy one, and along the way, they lose someone they care about. When they finally reach Nicodemus they learn that Daniel Redfern is the mayor—how crazy is that?—and a number of refugees from Summerland are here as well. Which begs the question how long before this town run by blacks will be in the hands of the whites? And what can be done to combat that?

Quick thinking by Jane allows Katherine to pass as white, and she is sent to the nicer part of town, while the other girls end up bedding down in the local brothel, run by the Duchess. Jane is not surprised to see Gideon here, but is surprised to learn he’s made this a base of operations for some time. And he’s still hot on vaccinating anybody and everybody he can. Thanks to a terrible error of judgment on Gideon’s part, Nicodemus is overrun by the dead, who have become surely more savvy than before,  and while trying to escape, the unthinkable happens when Jane is bitten.

The second volume of the Dread Nation duology is written in two perspectives, both Jane’s and Katherine’s, where the first book was all in Jane’s voice. That becomes necessary when the friends are separated, beginning their own journeys.

I enjoyed hearing Katherine’s voice and learn more about her in her own words. She and Jane are so different from one another, but perhaps therein lies the attraction. Difficult times bring out the best and the worst in people, and that is very obvious in this book, as it was in the first. As abhorrent as the people of Summerland were, the people of Nicodemus are every bit as horrible with a few exceptions. And, as usual, Jane keeps putting herself behind the eight ball, so to speak, because that is how she is—strong-minded, and unwilling to let an injustice go unpunished. Even so, something happens which changes Jane, not necessarily for the better, and it will take everything these two girls possess to overcome this divide that has grown between them.

The second book is every bit as good as the first, and although there are no signs of a third book, the ending leaves that open to change, at least in my eyes. There is also a side book I intend to read, Three For the Road.

If you enjoyed Dread Nation, you are sure to love Deathless Divide. Looking forward to reading more from this author.

Book Review: Dread Nation (Dread Nation #1) by Justina Ireland

Dread Nation ( Dread Nation #1)   

Authors: Justina Ireland

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

American release date: December 1, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/Young Adult Zombie Fiction/464 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Jane McKeene is her mama’s dirty little secret. Born to a white plantation owner, Jane is undoubtedly of African-American descent. Even so, she knows her mother loves her, and does the best that she can to raise her right. The course of Jane’s life is changed forever when the dead begin to rise on the battlefields of Gettysburg. Jefferson Davis’ Confederacy capitulates to the North due to the necessity of having to fight the growing numbers of undead, which they cannot do on their own. Even so, the battle is an arduous one, and some Southern States have been given up as long causes, simply referred to as the Lost States.

Under the auspices of the Negro and Native Reeducation Act, certain children are sent to schools to learn to combat the dead. Jane is one of these, having been sent to Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore. Jane is really good at what she does, and she can surely swing a mean scythe, but she misses her mama, and writes her often. But she hasn’t heard from her in a while, and Jane is concerned.

Jane is a very independent soul, and very strong-minded. Despite the fact that slavery is now illegal, blacks are still treated with a great degree of condescension. Definitely second-class citizens. The best Jane can hope for is to become an Attendant to some fine white lady (read paid but still a slave in all but name). She dreams of the time when she can leave the school and return to her home in Rose Hill, in Kentucky. Jane has friends at the school, but Katherine is not one of them. Katherine is so fair, she could easily pass, and she is beautiful, and she knows it. She and Jane are like oil and water.

Jane has a past relationship with a young man named Jackson. Their relationship didn’t exactly end well, and yet they maintain a tenuous sort of friendship, somewhat out of necessity. Jackson is easy on the eyes, and he operates outside of the law, and you know how women like their bad boys.  Jackson gets Jane and Katherine embroiled in a scenario which ends up with all of them being sent West to a place called Summerland. Supposedly this is a haven for people to be safe against the growing hordes of dead.

But Jane quickly discovers she has just been sent to a place that is more Hell than Heaven.

I found this book riveting from beginning to end. Jane McKeene is an amazingly awesome heroine, strong and gutsy and just plain likeable. The story is told in a compelling First Person present tense narrative that will pull you in. This alternate Civil Way history with zombies is imaginative and fascinating. I thought it very sad that although slavery was illegal, the entitled white people still found a way to keep the blacks down. I found it hard not to draw parallels between then and present day America, and maybe that was the point.

The relationship between Jane and Katherine is priceless, going from enemies to friends. And in Summerland, I think Jane may have found a potential lover. Only time will tell. There are some great characters, some you’ll love, and some you will equally loathe.

The really good news is there is a sequel, and I can’t wait to read it.  Although marked as High School, I think this is an enjoyable series for all ages.. Can’t wait to read the next book.