The Resurrectionists by Michael Patrick Hicks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Salem Hawley may be a free man after the American Revolution, but his troubles are plenty. A good friend seeks his help, turning Salem’s attention to the graves being emptied and the deceased experimented upon and studied by medical students and physicians. It goes ignored, yet Salem is determined to do something, anything. If only he knew about the rituals being performed, the Old Ones being worshiped, right under his nose. If only he knew that New York City is on the cusp of ruin.
(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I thank High Fever Books for giving me the opportunity.
I’m going to get right to the point: I had a BLAST (the capitals should further reiterate my point) reading this book. I feel like my reading pace, as of recent days, has been akin to trudging through knee-high mud. It’s been painfully slow, frustrating, and I was in danger of expiring before making real progress. Then I happened upon this jewel of a novella; I was reminded that reading doesn’t have to be a much-dreaded chore. I was so completely immersed from the start – it didn’t hesitate to plunge right into the nauseating particulars of body snatching and desecration of the dead. Scenes were graphic and often extreme, in the sense that it married sexual arousal and violence. It wasn’t pretty, but it was seriously addictive. The fact that a lot of attention fell upon the villains and their own ambitions also interested me on a deeper level. They were despicable, yes, but no matter how terrible their work, my curiosity wanted them to succeed. That’s the thing about this sub-genre: I so desperately want the monsters to cause havoc. All hail the tentacles!
Salem Hawley was the likeable sort, and I feel I was properly introduced to his character despite the short length. His experiences honed in on the persecution the black community had to endure – unlicensed exhumations going ignored by society – and so I felt invested in his struggles to make change. To be frank, the ill-treatment was heartbreaking, packing that extra punch due to the realness it represented. I applaud the level of emotion that was found in the writing and conveyed through Salem’s own anger. In that way, he was a genuine person, and I can’t wait to read more of him; to see his development and how he overcomes the bane of the knowledge he acquired.
The portrayal of the 1788 Doctors’ Riot of New York City was tremendously compelling with its blending of historic events and aspects of a more cosmic nature. In all honesty, I can take or leave historical fiction. It’s not something I actively seek out, but if I find myself reading it, I can appreciate the author igniting an interest that motivates me to research the topic. Did you know that Richard Bayley and John Hicks were real people? Obviously their depiction here is not accurate, but one hell of a spin was put into their story. I think I like this version better.
In conclusion: I’m so thrilled that The Resurrectionists is the beginning of a series, as I got the distinct impression Salem’s journey was far from over. This novella captivated me from the get-go, introducing me to an array of characters that were fascinating in their own right. The last chapters held a special kind of mayhem, and I was in my element throughout.
“This war for independence,” Bayley began, “and the sins that have built this foundling nation have a toll. Always, there is a toll. So, so much blood was loosed upon the earth. Between your wars and your slavers’ whips, this infantile nation breeds blood and begets violence. It was ignorant to think such a thing could go unnoticed. We laid out a buffet, and Old Ones ate and ate, and we left them starved for more. They are here, and they are demanding.”
© Red Lace 2019