High Concept refers to a book or movie plot that can be easily described with one phrase. In Locksmith at the End of the World, a novella by Angela Glascock, that phrase is “zombie apocalypse from a dog’s point of view.” The first line of the book is “Chester knew something was terribly wrong when his person tried to eat him.” That first line immediately sets the tone(s) for the novella, which alternates between horrific and adorable as our canine hero, Chester, navigates a zombie-fied world. There’s also a big helping of dry humor.
Chester’s not the only point-of-view character in LatEotW. There’s also Lucy, the locksmith from the title, who uses her pre-apocalyptic skill set of lockpicking to find supplies and hide without being detected. Finally, there’s Emma, a shotgun-wielding bad-ass who’s set up a series of ziplines around her neighborhood so she can zip from house to house far above the zombies shambling on the ground. The chapters alternate among these three characters as they gradually make their way toward a fateful meeting with each other.
Angela is a fellow writer in my writers’ group, the Writers of Chantilly, but I don’t think I’m biased when I say that this is one of the most fun horror books I’ve ever read. I love Chester’s internal thoughts and his labeling of the zombies as “wronghumans,” and the clever way Angela describes his keen sense of smell and how Chester perceives the world.
It’s a strange feature of zombie stories that you often wish you could be in them, your own (alleged) intelligence surely leading to your surviving and even thriving where the stupid people on the screen or the page fail. I think of all the zombie media I’ve seen, though, it’s the characters in this book I would most want to live through a zombie apocalypse with. As far as such books go, this one isn’t too scary or stomach-churning, and as a novella it can easily be read in a couple days. I recommend it to any horror (or dog?) fan who wants to read something light with a nice mix of horror, humor, and canine heroics. Happily, there’s also a sequel in the works that I understand will see the light of day in the near future….