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The Resurrectionist / Wrath James White

Leisure Books / September 2009
Reviewed by: I.E. Lester

The Resurrectionist by Wrath James White the kind of novel that can unsettle even the most hardened gore fanatic. White writes the kind of horror that gets under your skin, and reading his brand of hardcore fiction may have the unintended side effect of making you feel...wrong. Seriously wrong.

Yet despite White’s uncanny ability to make the reader squirm with his ideas, he surprisingly doesn’t overdose on the red and sticky. Sure, there are blood splatters and entrails aplenty, but there's far more to his fiction than the unimaginably intricate ways he describes disembowelling, eye gouging, slicing and dicing, and arterial flow.

No, White packs a hefty punch when it comes to the originality of ideas, the plotting of his stories, and the believability of his characters. Take the villain in The Resurrectionist, Dale McCarthy. Dale is the consummate nerd, lacking even the most basic of social skills. He's physically unimpressive — weedy frame and heavily acne-scarred face. In short, he's no woman's dream date.

But Dale has a special ability, and it's not your average big, bad horror power. Taken at face value, Dale's gift is a very positive one: He can bring people back from the dead. How much more decent can a supernatural ability get, this reviewer asks? In White’s capable hands, however, there is nothing decent about Dale’s gift, as the author subverts it into something dark and twisted. Something very dark — and very twisted.

Knowing he will never attract a woman through conventional means, yet having the same sexual desires as most young men his age, he uses his miraculous ability for a very perverse purpose. Dale breaks into a woman's house, fatally stabs her while she sleeps, and proceeds to rape her still-warm corpse. And when he's done, he simply breathes into her mouth and brings her back to life, totally unaware of what he's done.

Yep, Dale is a major league sicko.

Sarah Lincoln, though, is different than most of Dale’s victims. For one thing, Dale believes she is the most beautiful woman he's ever seen and so she has the misfortune of his prolonged attention.

In addition, unlike his previous victims, Sarah begins to remember the attacks. Soon after Dale moves onto her street, she begins to have nightmares about the assaults. Although initially believing them to be nothing but overly vivid dreams inspired by her new neighbor creeping her out, she soon starts to see evidence that her nightmares are anything but the product of her own subconscious.

And for once in a horror novel, the victim does a sensible thing: She calls the cops. Problem is that her story about being raped and murdered isn't totally convincing — she’s walking and talking without any visible signs of an assault.

In the years since Richard Laymon's death, this reviewer has come across many books with review quotes proclaiming the author to be the late dark scribe’s natural successor or something to that effect. Most of these books, while decent reads in their own right, have not truly lived up to such comparisons. None have succeeded in producing that shiver down your spine or that patented gross-out wince Laymon could inspire.

Wrath James White has managed this in both of his Leisure novels (Succulent Prey being the other one) and is well on his way to building a reputation as a master of Laymon-esque hardcore horror.

Purchase The Resurrectionist by Wrath James White.

Posted on Friday, May 7, 2010 at 10:46AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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