The Shape of Water’s Daniel Kraus is reanimating George Romero’s unfinished zombie novel

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Feb 14, 2018

When George Romero died in the summer of 2017, he left behind a huge, ambitious, and incomplete novel that promised to take the zombie plague he first pioneered in Night of the Living Dead (1968) on a time-spanning global journey. Simply titled The Living Dead, the epic new story was poised to usher zombies even further into the uncharted social, political, and even personal territory that characterized Romero’s career. 

Now, more than 50 years after Night of the Living Dead singlehandedly defined an entire horror genre, Romero’s final unfinished novel is set to rise again—thanks to a deal that puts Guillermo del Toro collaborator Daniel Kraus in the author’s role.

Kraus, whose work with del Toro on Trollhunters and The Shape of Water place him squarely in the Romero universe’s wheelhouse, confessed to Entertainment Weekly a reverence for Romero’s work; one to which he probably owes his very career. “He’s the reason I’m a writer,” Kraus said. “He might be the reason I’m interested in art, period.” 

That kind of passion is promising for a zombie project that aims to weave “a global nightmare beyond comprehension,” according to the novel’s synopsis:

“Spread across three separate time periods and combining Romero’s biting social commentary with Kraus’s gift for the beautiful and grotesque, the book rockets forward as the zombie plague explodes, endures, and finally, in a shocking final act, begins to radically change,” publisher Tor Books told EW.

In prepping to complete The Living Dead, Kraus said he’s taking a very method-like approach to inhabiting Romero’s head space. The idea is to get as close to Romero’s sensibilities as possible, in the hope of finishing the “massively scaled story,” a sweeping zombie epic that “no one ever gave him the budget for in film.”

In practical terms, Kraus said that means he’ll be “putting George back together, in a sense” by immersing himself in Romero’s passions: his favorite stories, films, art and music — "all in an attempt to find in them the inspirations he might have found.”

Kraus earned an Odyssey Award for Rotters, his 2012 young adult novel that hung a mature, emotional family story around the taboo premise of grave robbing. In 2015, he went on to co-write with del Toro the Trollhunters novel that inspired the Netflix animated series of the same name. Another Kraus-del Toro book collaboration, the novel adaptation of del Toro’s critically adored The Shape of Water, will be released on March 6.

After that, reports EW, it’s just a short wait until the fall of 2019, when The Living Dead is set to shamble its way into bookstores.