I was totally floored by this tale of contemporary Voodoo zombies in New Orleans. It is scary, surprising, and delightful. (Coffee is involved too, so the title becomes a pun on coffee-grounds and the ground in which a zombie is buried. [I like puns!]) “Bitter Grounds” also shows that the classical Haitian-style zombie genre is still alive (or, perhaps, “alive”) despite the meteoric rise of the brain-eating, Romero zombie. I strongly recommend checking out this story if you’re a zombie fan!
An Aside: I like Gaiman a lot, but am well aware I’m coming to him late. When I was in college in the late 1990’s, I was a “horror-guy,” reading Lovecraft, Straub, Poe, King, and Campbell for pleasure. When I met Gaiman fans– there were several in my first-year dormitory– they seemed not to be “horror guys/gals” at all, but rather “fantasy guys/gals.” They collected comics, watched Japanese animation, and played role playing games. (Also, they all listened to Tori Amos… whereas I much preferred punk rock [and still do].) Based on this first impression of the Gaiman-loving neighbors assigned me by the housing office, I decided, sight-unseen, that I was not a Gaiman fan because his followers were so unlike me. I never cracked one of his books or opened one of his comics.
Then, a few years ago, I read a short story by Gaiman called “A Study in Emerald” and was totally bowled-over. Not only was this guy clever and funny and scary, he was clearly a faithful student of H.P. Lovecraft (and Conan Doyle to boot)! Gaiman may be a “fantasy guy,” but he is also concurrently a “horror guy” of the highest caliber.
Now, I am slowly trying to read all of his books.