Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Seven frightening books featuring fungi

Vanessa Armstrong is a book lover and writer. She lives in Los Angeles with her dog Penny, her daughter Maddie, and her husband Jon.

At Vulture she tagged seven "delicious sporror books to check out if you’re hankering for another tale [like The Last of Us] based on fungal fears." One title on the list:
The Girl With All The Gifts, by M.R. Carey

The Last of Us isn’t the only story to imagine zombies created by Cordyceps. Some of the infected in this novel by M.R. Carey, however, are markedly different from the Clickers, Bloaters, and Runners that Joel and Ellie face. While most of the fungally challenged in The Girl With All The Gifts act in expected zombie fashion, some of the younger ones retain their intelligence along with their need to consume human flesh, and scientists want to know why. Ten-year-old Melanie is one of those children, though she doesn’t know it at first. She starts out the book in a research lab, where she and other subjects are studied and, ultimately, vivisected in hopes of finding a cure. But one of her doctors, Dr. Justineau, still sees Melanie as human, and when some of the not-so-smart infected attack the research lab, Melanie saves Dr. Justineau and realizes her true nature. The two flee the lab, join some other humans, head to a larger stronghold, and find out more about the fungal infection along the way. While there are obvious similarities here to The Last of Us, The Girl With All the Gifts does something quite different with that basic premise — especially with the ending, which is drastically different.

Shroom Score: 9/10 spores. Fungi have their roots in every aspect of this book, including the protagonist.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Girl with All the Gifts is among C.J. Tudor's eight thrillers featuring a child with a mysterious supernatural power, Keith Yatsuhashi's five gateway books that opened the door for him to specific genres and C. A. Higgins's top five books with plot twists that flip your perception.

--Marshal Zeringue