Aderyn (or Ryn, as she prefers to be called) is a 17-year-old living in a Once-Upon-A-Time land and era, presumably medieval. Her mother is dead, her father went on a scouting trip into a magical forest and never returned, and Ryn ekes out a living in her small village, helped by two siblings, brother Gareth and sister Ceridwen. Her dad was a gravedigger and she follows that trade. Unfortunately, times are very bad in her village, what with a nearby mine having been shut down and people no longer having money to hire her, electing to burn their dead instead. When the landlord of the family’s home threatens to evict them for unpaid debts, Ryn resolves to go in search of her father.
In the meantime, Ellis, a young stranger of seemingly-high birth, appears in the village. A mapmaker by trade, he hires Ryn to assist him by guiding him through a dangerous nearby forest. And WHY is this forest so dangerous, you might ask? Cuz it is full of zombies–disgusting, smelly zombies who have started coming out of the forest and attacking the villagers. Pretty confident in her ability to dispatch said zombies with her trusty axe and derring-do, Ryn and Ellis set off. Before the book is finished, they DO find her father, Ellis DOES learn important things about his past, and the zombie curse is broken. The book is pretty well-plotted, though there are some things you can’t think about too closely because they seem inconsistent.
This book has about half a dozen instances of coarse language, the sole word being “damn.” There is one remark indicating there is nothing wrong with same-sex relationships. There is eventually romance but no sex. There are many descriptive/disgusting passages of (battle) violence and rotting bodies. Truly, the book is a medieval version of The Walking Dead, so if you like that TV show or the comics, this will be for you.