This Delicious Death by Kayla Cottingham offers an interesting premise but falls entirely flat in its execution. The novel takes place after a sort of zombie apocalypse called “The Hollowing” that turned a small part of the population into “ghouls”, feral creatures who crave human flesh. After the outbreak, scientists created a synthetic version of human flesh that would satisfy the ghouls’ hunger and would allow them to live semi-normal lives. Our protagonist, Zoey, and her friends are all teenage ghouls who are headed to a rural music festival in Southern California as a pre-graduation celebration. However, after one of them goes feral and eats a fellow festival attendee without warning or reason, they start to realize the hidden danger of the desert, and the lengths they’ll have to go to make it out alive.
This book attempts to blend together a variety of plot points and genres (zombie apocalypse, horror comedy, YA love story, commentary on societal oppression, etc.…) but in my opinion, only manages a superficial exploration of each. Cottingham’s portrayals of these varying plot points range from forgettable at best (such as the underdeveloped main romance), to nonsensical at worst (such as the clunky comparison made between parents not accepting an LGBTQIA+ child and parents being wary of their child being a ghoul and potentially eating them). Overall, I would personally give This Delicious Death two out of five stars. However, I do recognize that this is only Kayla Cottingham’s second book, and I do think she has potential as an author if she focuses more on tighter and more detailed narratives.