This Dark Earth – Reviews



Click magazine or blog name to view review.

Library Journal – August 10, 2012

“Bram Stoker Award nominee Jacobs (Southern Gods) avoids the major pitfall that many aspiring zombie writers fall prey to: a lack of originality… The hard decisions [the protagonists] must make in a world without humanity drive Jacobs’s compelling plot from beginning to end.”

Publishers Weekly – May 28, 2012

“The real enemies of Bridge City are not the zombies, but rather the opportunistic cruelty and selfishness that spring up in their wake. This smart addition to the zombie genre is heroic and strangely hopeful, championing the unyielding human drive for justice and civilization.”

Kirkus Reviews – July 3rd, 2012

“The novel’s tenderness in places is balanced by a ferocity that pulls no punches. In one story, a woman named Tessa details her misuse at the hands of mercenaries, and her revenge. In another sequence, Gus is captured by a vicious slaver named Konstantin, tortured nearly to death and crucified. Yet there’s heart, too, like the funny sequence, “The Bureaucracy of the Dead,” where a member of the group takes minutes chronicling the terrible decisions that have to be made, often by fiat. Don’t miss the interactive map of Bridge City on Jacobs’ website. For readers who get off on what-would-I-do? questions, this book offers satisfaction.”

Booklist Review – June 1st, 2012

“Readers will become immersed in the dark, unforgiving world Jacobs has created, and the morally ambiguous choices his characters make will give them plenty to ponder.”

Elizabeth A. White Book Review Blog – July 9th

“The characters who populate Jacobs’s post-apocalyptic landscape are heroic, and cowardly. They are noble, and savage. They are selfish, and self-sacrificing. They are, in short, very real. There are no easy paths to walk or choices to be found in This Dark Earth, and at every step of the journey Jacobs challenges the reader to put themselves in the shoes of his characters, to stand alongside them. It’s not always a comfortable place to be, which is a tribute to Jacobs’s skill as an author in crafting events so horrifically believable one can’t help but think, ‘What would I do?'”

Arkansas Democrat Gazette

“This Dark Earth… manages to be bleak AND tender as it posits humanity’s last stand in the miasmic jungles of Arkansas. There’s a ferocious and unpretentious literary talent roaring within this book. Jacobs has a foot in Cormac McCarthy territory, though he’s more hopeful and humanistic, which transcends the limitations of genre fiction while remaining pulpy-fresh enough to invite speculations about who’ll play Gus and Lucy in the (inevitable?) movie.” – Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat Gazette

Feathered Quill – July 6th

“Quill says: Fast-paced and well-written; an excellent novel about a dystopian society with lots of creepy zombie action. If you like zombie stories, then don’t miss This Dark Earth.”

My Bookish Ways – July 15th

“This Dark Earth is not your typical zombie fare. Don’t worry, you’ll get plenty of zombies, but the highlight of this novel is the characters. The standouts, of course, are Lucy, her whip-smart son Gus, and the absolutely wonderful Knock-Out, the gentle giant that will steal your heart. Seriously, he stole mine. You’ll travel with this threesome as they navigate a land ravaged by radiation and populated by the walking dead, and you’ll stay with them as they build Bridge City, an outpost fortified against the terror and lawlessness that has taken hold of the country. Gus is destined to lead this group of people, and the road to hope isn’t an easy one. Wait, that’s an understatement. It’s downright torturous, and the author really doesn’t pull any punches. By turns brutal and tender, This Dark Earth is dark, and you will flinch, but you’ll keep reading, and you’ll love every second of it.”

ManArchy Magazine – Nov. 9th

“So how does it end? Is there hope for mankind? Majestic words like Love, Family, Sacrifice all come to mind, and that’s not far off, but it’s much more than that. Jacobs gives us the majesty while delivering what we came for, a zombie novel in an apocalyptic world. This is a personal story for the characters. Jacobs doesn’t stuff this novel with fluff, but he does stuff it with a horrifying tale that just might be, dare I say, THE zombie novel.” – July 24th

“I’m constantly amazed at authors that find new and fresh things to say with zombie stories. I usually find that it’s the books that focus on the living that are most successful, and with This Dark Earth I’d say John Hornor Jacobs has written one of the most creatively successful and accomplished zombie novels in recent memory. It’s got action by the bucketful, it doesn’t shy away from the wet work when it’s time to kill some zombies, and it’s got a great cast of characters. I just hope that people will pick this one up and make it one of the most financially successful zombie books in recent memory. No, I won’t see a dime…but I might see a movie version, and I would like that just fine.”

Geeks of Doom – July 3rd, 2012

“Once in a great long while, a book that you absolutely cannot put down upon pain of death comes along. All the stars and planets align. The Universe is in agreement that you do, in fact, need to read this book from start to finish. It creates things like a sinus infection to keep you curled up in your Lay-Z-Boy, thunderstorms to keep your 60 pound normally active dog stuck to your chest on said Lay-Z-Boy and better things for your Facebook friends to do. This is precisely how I spent two days with John Hornor Jacobs’ This Dark Earth.” – June 24th

“Believe it or not, it’s finally here: a zombie novel for the thinking crowd. Well, more than a zombie novel, John Hornor Jacobs’ This Dark Earth is an epic tale of survival that studies the evolution of society from the moment all hell breaks loose until just a few survivors are left facing an uncertain future a few years after the apocalypse.”

Inspired by Dubious Virtues – July 3rd

“Jacobs essentially does the impossible here.  He takes a tired, worn out, and—let’s face it—boring genre and injects new life into by, well, I’m not sure how the hell he does it.  I’d say it was the tight plotting or the solid cast of characters, but it’s something more than that.  Maybe the best way to explain it is that Jacobs injects a heart and a soul into the book through Knock Out, a giant of a trucker whose actions put an exclamation point on everything that’s worth saving about humanity.”

Only the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy – July 23rd

“This Dark Earth takes us from the beginning of the zombie apocalypse through the early development of a new civilization. Not treading a whole lot of new ground here are we? And I think that’s what’s blowing me a way with this book is that it’s nothing new, but at the same time it felt fresh and vibrant and I COULD NOT put it down. I guess that shows what kind of writing chops this author has.”

Winnipeg Free Press – August 4, 2012

“Gritty and Brutal… There aren’t a lot of new things to say about zombies; these days it’s not what new twists you can come up with, but what sort of story you tell, and how well you tell it. Jacobs tells very well, using shifting narrative points of view, creating a fresh environment, and populating it with characters we want to follow… If you’re a fan of zombie stories, you’ll eat this one up.” – Winnipeg Free Press

Going Ballistic – “The Zombie Novel Grows Up”

This Dark Earth does not settle for the easy Facebook meme questions about how you would survive the zombie apocalypse. It forces the reader to confront a much larger question – what type of world would you have? And what are you prepared to sacrifice to achieve it? This Dark Earth is a staggeringly effective novel on all levels. A riveting story told at a blistering pace. An arresting new world deftly imagined and peopled with full and compelling characters. And a story that dares to reach beyond the bounds of its genre to explore the theme of what it really means to be human, to be a society.”

Jenn’s Bookshelves

“It is easy for the reader to identify with the main characters as they start of as completely typical, unremarkable individuals. That changes when their lives are put at risk, forced into completely unimaginable situations.  This is a novel that makes one think, a completely rewarding cerebral experience. Highly recommended.”

Beauty and Books Oh My! Blog

“This book is packed with action, suspense, and just plain fun.  Some scenes can become slightly graphic, so I warn you of that now.  But otherwise I recommend picking this book up.  This Dark Earth is a must read.  There is no if, and/or buts about it.”

San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review

“With This Dark Earth, author John Hornor Jacobs brings readers a unique addition to the horror genre. He does a nice job of telling a whole apocalypse tale.”

GRIFT Magazine

This Dark Earth is the kind of thing I wouldn’t have picked up off of the shelf, but with Jacobs’ name sitting there on the bottom of the book cover (right under such visceral copy as “Grab your head knocker and get ready for some wet work in the murder-hole”), I knew it was worth the time. And then some. Like it’s predecessor, This Dark Earth is a thrill ride that makes you think.”

Horror Palace

“Of all of the genres in horror, zombies aren’t my favorite especially when reading, but let me tell you, This Dark Earth had me right from the beginning…During all this mayhem, zombies are trying to break down the wall that’s surrounding the city, and the constant fighting amongst the survivors ends with a gripping climax that leads to you wanting more.”

Muggles Behaving Badly

“This Dark Earth is probably one of the most realistic zombie apocalypse novels I’ve read in a long time. I found this one while stalking my local bookstore’s SciFi section, and glad I did….The story is extremely well written and keeps you clinging on for more. A great read, especially for those like us that love a good head bashing.”


“Well written and fast-paced, the first-person voices of survivors shape this novel into an exposition of how some people survive and many others die when society falls completely apart. This Dark Earth is more robust than an ordinary zombie novel. It deserves classification with the exceptional novels of catastrophic social change, including Steven King’s The Stand, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon.”

Book Reviews by Dean Fetzer

“I enjoyed this book, in much the same way I enjoyed his last, Southern Gods– if you haven’t read it, go buy it now – I took it on holiday and devoured it in a very short time. I like his characters and the way he develops them through the events happening in the book. It’s a subtle alchemy which I would love to emulate in my own work…Go on, stuck for something to read? Like well-written alternative fiction? Go buy his book now.”

Dead End Follies

THIS DARK EARTH is about the most awesome, three hundred pages long exposition of a zombie apocalypse theory, disguised as fiction. Jacobs goes from how it could realistically happen, to how it would affect society and people from all ages, to the different ways remaining humans could keep clear of the plague.”

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