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Hero / Wrath James White and J.F. Gonzalez

thhero.jpgBloodletting Press / February 2008
Reviewed by: Jeff Burk

J.F. Gonzalez (Survivor) and Wrath James White (Book of a Thousand Sins) have been known to traumatize readers with their tales of gore, violence, and the darkest side of human nature. In horror, this is the highest of compliments. Now they have teamed up to write Hero, a story of racism and torture that borrows more than a little from Stephen King's Misery.

Adelle Smith is a former radical civil rights activist who now lives quietly in her urban community. After suffering a particularly debilitating stroke, she is left in need of a full-time caregiver. Enter Natsinet, a nurse who just so happens to be an unrepentant racist and serial killer. Left alone with Adelle, Natsinet uses the opportunity to savagely express her racial hostilities.

The plot touches upon important social and political issues, but never fully breaks away from the story that Stephen King already made famous. Deeper exploration of the racial dynamics of the characters would have greatly enriched the story. The characters talk a lot about race but say very little, their commentary limited to clichéd talking points sprinkled in between scenes of cruelty.

Wrath and Gonzalez have written some of the most squirm-inducing scenes in modern horror fiction, and while Hero contains more than its fair share of violence, it feels oddly restrained. While Adelle undergoes some horrific torture, the reader never truly fears for her fate. Despite the promise of edginess implied by virtue of the book's small press publication,  there is nothing in the content that would exclude Hero from a mass-market release.

Hero is far from a bad book, but falls squarely into the category of average. It does not contain the sheer bloodshed and brutality normally found in Wrath James White's works or the engaging characters and unique plots found in J. F. Gonzalez's. The author's meet in the middle on Hero, but it is the wrong meeting point. Avid fans of both authors and those who like their horror nice and pulpy will enjoy this book. It’s just frustrating that two powerhouse authors do not deliver the thoughtful, soul-crushing book one knows they could have.

Purchase Hero by Wrath James White and J.F. Gonzalez.

Posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2008 at 09:53AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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