The flu pandemic of 1918 took millions of souls within a few short weeks. Except it wasn't flu, and death gave them back. Seventeen-year-old Ella copes the best she can by caring for her war-injured father, scrubbing the floors, and slaying the undead that attack the locals. Like rats, these vermin spread pestilence with every bite. Ella's world collides with another when she nearly decapitates a handsome stranger - one who is very much alive.
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Hazel's parents saw the 1912 sinking of the Titanic as a portent of doom and locked their daughter away. Isolated and alone, each birthday she wishes to be free, whatever the risk. If only her childhood friend, Henry, would return and breach the high walls. On the front lines of the Great War, Henry kept a token of happier times - a worn photograph of a young girl with long blonde plaits. He returns from war damaged and vowing to do one brave thing to make up for his cowardice: release Hazel from her prison.