Book Review: Zombies vs. Unicorns

I renewed my library card a couple of weeks ago, and while I was there I checked out Zombies vs. Unicorns, an anthology edited by Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black.

The theme is pretty simple–the editors present one short story about unicorns, then one about zombies.  Black argues that unicorns are stronger symbol for the human condition, Larbalestier argues that zombies are a stronger storytelling tool.  Since I like both unicorns and zombies, I figured I’d enjoy the book. And I did. I liked some stories better than others, but my main problem was the individual story introductions. Each one was mostly Larbalestier going on about how terrible unicorns (and people who like them) are. I know that it’s meant to be fun banter, but it got old pretty quick.

I found the book in the YA section at the library, and that was definitely the right place for it. I like YA, so that worked for me. I also like the ratio of male to female authors, and I enjoyed seeing so many strong female main characters.

The stories in the book are:

The Highest Justice by Garth Nix
The book opens with a unicorn story. I’ve read Nix’s work before, and I have always enjoyed his style.  This is no exception.

Love Will Tear Us Apart by Alaya Dawn Johnson
This one is a lot of fun. It’s a gay zombie love story. What else do you need?

Purity Test by Naomi Novik
An urban fantasy with adorable baby unicorns.

Bougainvillea by Carrie Ryan
This was one of my favorites. The main character’s father rules Curaçao after a zombie apocalypse, and the story is about how she comes into her own.

A Thousand Flowers by Margo Lanagan
This one didn’t work as well for me–it has a shifting point of view, and I felt like there was too much distance between me and the actual story.

The Children of the Revolution by Maureen Johnson
I liked the tone in this one, but the story felt a little too familiar.

The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn by Diana Peterfreund
I really loved this one, but the ending just doesn’t work. The story just stops. Still, I will need to check out more of Peterfreund’s work. Maybe I’ll find out what happens to the main character of this story, somehow.

Inoculata by Scott Westerfeld
The writing and world are evocative, and I really liked the ending.

Princess Prettypants by Meg Cabot
This is another of my favorites–it’s a young adult romance with an awesome unicorn. Again, what more can you ask for?

Cold Hands by Cassandra Clare
The world in this was super interesting, but the ending fell a little flat for me.

The Third Virgin by Kathleen Duey
This one did not work for me on a pure taste level. I can deal with killer unicorns and evil unicorns, but addict unicorns… I just didn’t like it.

Prom Night by Libba Bray
This one is set in another really interesting world, where adults spread the zombie infection. It ended the anthology on just the right note.

Overall, I’d highly recommend the book. If you like zombies or unicorns (or both) it’s very much worth your time.

About Jamie

Jamie Lackey lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and their cats. She has over 160 short fiction credits, and has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Escape Pod. She has a novella and two short story collections available from Air and Nothingness Press. In addition to writing, she spends her time reading, playing tabletop RPGs, baking, and hiking. You can find her online at

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