Samhain Publishing, $6.50, ISBN 1-59998-449-0
Raymond Anthony Brennan has just begun working in a hospital. The Holy Evangelical Lady of the Lake is an unusual hospital though because a patient has a higher chance of dying there than anywhere else. Ray soon becomes suspicious when even a simple headache can kill off a patient in this hospital. What is going on here? Meanwhile, one of the most recent patients realizes just how wrongs things are in the hospital when he dies and gets resurrected as some kind of zombie-like creature.
The organ-harvest idea behind Dark Resurrection is not bad at all, really, although I’ll leave it to readers of the story to discover just what exactly is going on in the hospital. However, I must say that this book doesn’t work for me that well as a horror story. The ingredients are there, but the tone of the story is somewhat off.
The author isn’t subtle where the horror elements are concerned. The acronym for the hospital is HELL, for one. The author’s prose also telegraphs the author’s presence too much in the story. Instead of just describing a scene, Mr Karr often tries to direct his readers how to feel or react to that scene, which I feel can really intrude into my reading. Let me explain – instead of just telling me how the staff of HELL watch a patient die, for example, Mr Karr will also go on about how other hospital staff will try their best to heal their patients, just not the staff in HELL. My reaction to this tidbit is to think, “Duh, isn’t that obvious? Stop trying to beat me in the head about how wrong HELL is – I can see that for myself!” As a result, instead of feeling squeamishness or horror at that particular scene, I find myself noticing that Mr Karr is trying too hard to telegraph how evil HELL is. Just tell the story, Mr Karr, don’t try so hard to direct how the readers feel and think during the story.
The story also suffers from Mr Karr’s eagerness to share everything with the reader instead of letting things be revealed when the time comes. Therefore, there are an abundance of obvious exposition passed off as dialogues such as this one:
“You forget, Doctor, it doesn’t matter what condition the organs are in, or even what diseases are rampant within them. To us it is the freshness that matters. We must harvest the organs quickly after death when they are in the process of releasing the life-force that kept this wretched man alive. We cannot take the organs before death, and we cannot wait long after or we will miss the release process. I thought I explained this to you when you first joined us. Have you been skipping meals, Doctor? You seem a trifle slow.”
This gives rise to a cartoonish aspect of the story: villains who tell everything in long paragraphs and a cackle at the drop of the hat.
Personally, I have no problems with the story. The writing technique, however, could use a little more polish, especially as horror is very dependent on the author’s ability to build up the atmosphere and visualize a scene of dread to the reader. Since I feel that this book is not particularly gory despite its organ-harvest theme, Dark Resurrection is more dependent on the author’s visualization and fear-building ability than ever to bring on the chills. As a result, the book fall short considerably as it comes off flat with too much telling rather than showing going on sometimes. Maybe next time, Mr Karr.