When I read the blog of “Wrath” James White, MMA fighter turned horror author, he struck me as an intelligent and perceptive person with a lot to say. His books received acclaim on Amazon. I rolled the dice: got “The Resurrectionist”, read it, and arrived at a verdict: this book sucks ass.
The premise: Dale McCarthy has the power to bring dead people back to life. The revived dead have no memory of their deaths. Unfortunately, he is no Peter Parker, and he does not use his powers for good. He moves in next door to Sarah and Josh Lincoln, takes a liking to the lady of the house, and night after night breaks in, rapes Sarah, kills both of them, and then brings them back from the dead, neither of them any the wiser. Actually, that’s not true. Sarah has some vague awareness of what is happening to her…but how can you arrest a murderer who leaves no corpses behind?
Wrath writes (to misquote Roger Ebert) like a man chopping firewood. This happens. Then that happens. His prose is dull and workmanlike, as is his tendency to grab the most obvious metaphor off the clearance rack (“…her perfect porcelain doll face”). If you want a horror story that’s evocative, this is not it. The Resurrectionist has all the emotional punch of reading a novel’s plot on Wikipedia.
Wrath has clearly lived quite a full life, and it seems he wants to share some of his experiences with the reader. This is a commendable thing. Getting one’s experiences on to the page is nearly the core of writing. However, The Resurrectionist ends up bogged down in needless scenes where we learn all about how to load and fire a gun, and all the ways you can set up security cameras in your home, and the ins and outs of working as a pit boss, with the story going exactly nowhere.
Atheism is obviously a subject Wrath is passionate about, and a fair bit of that seeps into the book too. There are annoying and contrived scenes where characters are ruminating on the nature of evil, a Christian character chimes in with something about God, and an atheist character delivers the kind of perfect smackdown that only happens when you write it in a novel.
What’s with all the weird sexual crap? It’s like every few pages we get reminded of how firm and perky the heroine’s breasts are, or how well-toned her ass is. This kind of thing cheapens the book. The Resurrectionist should be horrifying. Instead it comes across as a sleazy horror movie, starring a Scream Queen who makes sure to trip so we get a good look at her panties.
With all this pointless mental detritus padding out The Resurrectionist, we end up with a 200 page story hiding out somewhere in a 300 page book. Combined with the poor writing and the result is a long-winded and heavily padded book where you can’t even relax and enjoy the journey. To be fair to Wrath, it’s not a complete borefest. He knows how to turn on the afterburners. The final section is furious, gory, and intense.
But at the end of the day, The Resurrectionist is ineffective at most of what it sets out to do. I didn’t like any of the characters. The plot is predictable. The atmosphere is thin enough to star in a UNICEF commercial. Everything about the book seems thoughtless and slapped together.
One detail seems to sum up the carelessness of The Resurrectionist. Wrath establishes Josh Lincoln as an affable down to earth every day man. He apparently lifts weights for twenty minutes a day, “just to stay in shape”. Later, we’re told that Josh has a 500 pound bench press and a 700 pound squat. Those are the numbers of an elite powerlifter who trains for hours a day and sticks needles in his ass. It seems completely implausible that such a fantastically strong man would be repeatedly subdued and killed by Dale, who is described as small, weak, and sickly.
Whatever…I don’t know. Apparently this is Wrath’s second book so I’ll assume he’s gotten much better since this.