Michael Patrick Hicks is fast becoming one of the first authors I think of when the topic of unflinching horror fiction comes up. Hicks routinely comes up with some of the nastiest ideas and delights in pushing the reader right up into the gore so that we may fully appreciate the slick, sticky monstrosities he has created.
The Resurrectionists takes place in post-Revolutionary War NYC during a time when grave robbing was common as doctors sought to understand human anatomy better. One sympathizes, as science often appeared insane in the early years of human understanding. However, the scientists and doctors at the center of The Resurrectionists are performing these dirty deeds less so that they may better understand humanity and more so that they can contact something that lurks beyond the veil of reality. After witnessing Lovecraftian creatures preying on the dead and dying on the fields of battle, these veteran doctors begin experiments on those raised from the grave, or those unfortunate and unloved that society will not miss. It’s cruel, unusual, and… has the potential to tear a hole between our world and the world of the Elder Gods.
As the series title may suggest, there is a combating force to this reckless evil: Salem Hawley, freed slave and military veteran, who enters the story after the Resurrectionists victimize the African American community on several occasions and law enforcement cannot even pretend to care.
If I have a complaint about The Resurrectionists, it’s that it leaves us too soon. Again, it’s the start of a series. But I wanted MORE. And NOW. Seriously, the whole book is good, but the finale takes it up a notch. It is a novella full of monster madness, cosmic horror, and human cruelty.
On that last note: Hicks does not shy away from human evils, whether physical, verbal, or social in nature. The book is full of evil men doing violent things to those who deserve better. And as it’s the story of a freed slave following a violent mystery in early America, racism also comes into play (but let’s be honest, when has racism not been in play in American history?). So on occasion it is not a very fun book. But nor should it be, in my opinion. Glossing over the ugliness of the time would’ve hurt the story and done a disservice to its victims (fictional though many of them may be in this case). Of Hicks’s work that I’ve read, he routinely puts some angry political commentary right into the gory body of his work. I’ve no idea if this follows his writing across all his works, but my appreciation of Hicks as a writer is that he is both things: genre political commentator and horror fiend. And, personally, I think the two sides of his fictional interests work hand in hand to make a better, more compelling whole.
The Resurrectionists is a historical horror tale with crazy gore, deep mythology, and complex characterization. Should appeal to old fans of Lovecraftian mythos and those just starting to get into that world of cosmic horror. Hicks is a take-no-prisoners horror author and The Resurrectionists is one of his most interesting works. I am very excited to read the continuing story of Salem Hawley in future books.
The book will be available on June 4th. Preorder today!
*I received an early copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of fiction and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
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