Book Review: Your Servants and Your People by David Towsey
Series: Book 2 of The Walkin’ Trilogy
Publisher: Jo Fletcher (November 6, 2014)
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
In 2013, Jo Fletcher Books sent me a copy of David Towsey’s Your Brother’s Blood and introduced me to a whole new perspective on the walking dead, and I realized I was looking at something very special. A “zombie-western series with the feels” is how I would describe The Walkin’ books, except I wouldn’t want to lead readers into a false sense of security either! Yes, while Towsey does show a more “human” side to zombies by letting them retain their emotions, intelligence and awareness of everything around them, like most tales that take place in the wild and lawless frontier, these novels possess an air of that steely grimness.
Your Servants and Your People is the sequel to Your Brother’s Blood that takes place seven years later. In that time, many things have changed. The Walkin’, or those who have died and come back, are tolerated in society, if not wholly embraced. In many towns they are still discriminated against and treated as an inferior class, though without the need to eat or sleep, most find work as laborers for the living.
Our protagonist Thomas McDermott on the other hand is a Walkin’ who just wants to be left alone. Since the end of the first book, he has reunited with his very-much-alive wife Sarah and daughter Mary, but there hasn’t yet been a happy ending for the three of them. In fact, the McDermotts are on the move again, looking for a place to settle after being forced to abandon home after home. Seems folks aren’t too accepting of a Walkin’ cohabiting with the living. Now Thomas is leading his family to a more remote part of the country, far away from the judging eyes of society, and escorting the McDermotts are a group of soldiers who are also on their way to the frontier garrison of Fort Wilson.
The series is clearly maturing, with book two differing from its predecessor in several major ways. Firstly, the years have changed the characters, none more so than Mary, who was just a child in Your Brother’s Blood. That little girl has grown into a young woman, and gone is her sweet innocence, which has been replaced by a bitter aloofness. Mary doesn’t say much, but she doesn’t need to for readers to grasp that this is one angry and rebellious teenager. Towsey portrays her character with a quiet intensity; he’s really good when it comes to “showing, not telling” and I love his subtle touch with all his characters.
The scope of the story has also expanded beyond the McDermott family. We branch into two significant threads here, the first one following Thomas, Sarah and Mary’s progress in establishing their homestead, and the second following the group of soldiers who were sent to Fort Wilson. A young man named Bryn is the focus of this second group, and he and comrades go through some awful, unspeakable things while holed up in that lonely outpost, things that I won’t go into detail here but that I will say are worthy of the most chilling of horror stories.
In spite of that, there is a lesser sense of urgency here in Your Servants and Your People as compared to Your Brother’s Blood. The first book’s premise was a lot more intense, following Thomas and Mary as they flee desperately across a forbidding wasteland, trying to keep ahead of a gang of zealots bent on killing them both. In contrast, for most of this book the plot moves at a gentler and steadier pace. Thomas and his family make their way to a new part of the country, stake their claim on a piece of land and begin the slow task of building a house. It’s the classic pioneer’s life story…well, save for the fact that the head of your party is a zombie.
These books have feeling because at their heart they are about love and devotion to family – after all, not even dying could stop Thomas from coming home to Mary, or from providing his wife and daughter a safe place to live. But there are still those who see him as an abomination and will stop at nothing to see him destroyed. I was hoping to finally see the McDermotts settle into their new life, because if anyone deserves a happy ending, it’s them. But as it turns out, the gradual pacing of this book fooled me into thinking that the threat was over, so that the bombshell the author dropped at the end crept up on me when I was least expecting it. Well played, Mr. Towsey.
The Walkin’ series is fresh, richly imagined, and sure to stand out for readers looking for a new twist on a classic genre. Beautiful and haunting, Your Servants and Your People is a sequel that brings back everything that was great about Your Brother’s Blood but at the same time feels different enough for me to see that the series is evolving. David Towsey has a knack for writing very gritty, very real protagonists with depth, and my heart is aching and anxious for the McDermotts now, wondering what will happen to them in the next book. I’m definitely not missing out on the final installment of this trilogy.
A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Jo Fletcher Books!