The ghostly players from the winning 1966 England World Cup team tell Leonard that if he follows their instructions, not only will he get off the bench – but Dulcie High XI will start to take control. Leonard obeys, and the team’s prospects surge. But what is the price of the zombies’ involvement? How high will the price be – and what pound of living flesh will they demand?
I have to be honest – I am not really a fan of football, the British teams leave me cold and whenever anyone asks me which team I support, I usually say the Kaizer Chiefs (the band is named after them) and then say that I am usually a rugby man.
But a funny thing has happened – I picked up Zombie XI, mainly because it had the word ‘zombie’ in the title and if you say one thing about me say that I do enjoy a good horror story.
Needless to say this book was not totally what I expected – it drew me into wanting to find out more about football in a subtle way and I am still not totally sure how it happened, I know more about the 1966 team now – the nuggets of history scattered through the book made me pick up a football encyclopaedia to follow up what I read about the players.
There is a streak of humour that winds its way through the story, from a hypnotism assisted attempt to stop smoking to poking fun at some of the more dubious facets of the modern game; the scene where the coach took the team to drama class for acting lessons made me snort out loud! Leonard’s complicated relationship with his family throughout the novel is my favourite strand of the story, and one that most readers will be able to relate to.
The diverse cast and the interpersonal relationships between them including the friendships, rivalries and insecurities are delicately handled and will give readers insight into communities that they may have limited experience with.
Yes, Zombie XI is a football book (with zombies), but it is not about football – it is about the people and their love of the beautiful game and how it unites us.
Peter Kalu is a brilliant author – he got me to care about football, I now know more about the game than I have ever done before and the feeling is not going away!
Zombie XI is the fourth book in the Striker series published by Hope Road Publishers
This book contains: football, drama (acting), more drama (family & interpersonal), friendship, humour and zombies
Recommended for: readers of all ages who love sport, humour and a bit of zombie action