Review of Jack’s Magic Beans by Brian Keene

Ah, the apocalypse! The subject of our nasty end has been in vogue for quite some time now. Over the last ten years or so there have been several works of literature, films, and comic books dedicated to it, most of them involving those rotting, flesh-eating zombies. One standout from the group is Brian Keene’s novella Jack’s Magic Beans, a story about a group of survivors holed up in a Save-a-Lot after everyone goes batshit crazy and starts killing each other.
One of the best things about the story is that is does not let up. Its 50 pages are jam packed with action and doom and gloom and all the fun stuff that comes with an apocalyptic thriller. A particular blurb towards the end about how the only use money has is for burning is a profound statement that cements in how doomed the group is and how much their world has changed.
The significance of the title is best left a surprise to those who have not read the novella before, because it is that detail that gives the tale its unique flavor. I would highly recommend this to fans of Brian Keene’s other work, apocalyptic fiction, or the horror genre. The new Deadite Press edition comes with some really badass cover art and four bonus stories: “Without You,” “I Am an Exit,” “This is Not an Exit” and “The King, in: Yellow.”
“Without You” is a dark story about a relationship gone horribly wrong. Both “Exit” stories are part of the same canon, featuring a serial killer character whose crimes may or may not serve a higher purpose. While all four bonus stories are enjoyable, my favorite of the batch was “The King, in: Yellow,” a surreal, Lovecraftian story featuring dead rock stars. It is a tribute to the Robert W. Chambers story of the same name.
This edition of Jack’s Magic Beans is part of the wave of Brian Keene reprints that will be released this year. This is a good place to start for readers unfamiliar with Keene’s work as it collects a good mix of his fun stories and his more serious work.

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