Path Unchosen is a new take on the zombie genre. The zombie plague is more or less over, survivors continue their lives in small towns and villages, cities abandoned, luxuries like electricity are a thing of the past...but life goes on in a mix of 19th and 20th century culture.
The world-building in the novel acknowledges these new conditions in an off-hand way, but fails to truly develop the conditions of this evolving situation. In some ways, life isn't very different and the social infrastructure is in tact (which given the implied devastation seems pretty remarkable).
Judy, the protagonist, has spent most of her life in an orphanage. The orphans leave when they are eighteen, sent to jobs that have been found for them, but Judy's birthday has come and gone weeks ago.
Her best friend Rose is about to embark on her new life, but she informs Judy that she has overheard a conversation between Father Andrew and the nuns indicating that they plan to keep Judy at the orphanage because she is different.
Judy and Rose plan Judy's escape, but Judy also wants to discover the records that would reveal who she was and how she came to the orphanage. What she finds is little more than a vague clue, but her discovery leads to her abandonment in a graveyard where a strange man tells her that she called him. He leads her to Ravenswood, tells her that his name is Purah, and that he will undertake her tutelage in magic.
A debut novel with interesting possibilities. However, the beginning section at the orphanage is too slow; the rest of the novel moves too quickly from one thing to another. The characters scarcely leave the page and events are treated in a surface manner.
Hopefully, the follow-up novel will take pare down some of extraneous stuff and develop the characters and situations more fully. And eliminate the love triangle.
NetGalley/Raven's Lair Publ.
Supernatural. Oct. 22, 2013. Print length: 261 pages.