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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Horror Review: Resurrection Bay by Wayne McDaniel & Steven Womack

The cover blurb promises "a force of evil on par with Hannibal Lector," but I would peg Decatur as something closer to one of Dean Koontz's darker villains. That's not a dig or a complaint, just a clarification. Resurrection Bay is an interesting story, with a villain who certainly has his quirks, but he's more odd than genius, and certainly by no means infallible.

Wayne McDaniel & Steven Womack are to be commended for taking a classic horror trope - that of the human hunter - and breathing new life into it. It's a story that's been told before, in myriad different ways, so it's one that needs a solid narrative style and a few inventive flourishes along the way to keep it compelling. While I thought the first half of the story fell a little flat, and was just too familiar, the turning of the tables in the second half was well worth the price of admission.

Decatur is a psychopath, pure and simple. He's the kind of guy who is too friendly, too perfect, too careful about putting on the perfect facade. Beneath that facade he's a cruel, sadistic, arrogant little man who likes to do things like masturbate into the cake dough at his bakery. His family life is sitcom-perfect on the surface, but the arrogance and condescension with which he suffers his wife and kids is sickening. Of course, none of that holds a candle to the fact that he likes to kidnap women, fly them into the barren wilderness, rape them, torture them, and then hunt them down like wild animals.

Apparently, this is inspired by the real-life story of an Alaskan serial killer, but I have to imagine the authors have taken some liberties, particularly with the vengeance of the second half. When Decatur picks the wrong women to abduct for his games, he finds the tables turned, with him on the very painful end of things. It's a bit too pat, too perfect, to satisfying to be completely true, but it does give the second half of the novel an energy and an original rush that it needs to hold the reader through to the conclusion.

Resurrection Bay is a story that moves along at a brisk pace, with some gorgeous scenery and some truly inventive scenes of torture. McDaniel & Womack really play with opposites and contrasts here, particularly between man and beast, wilderness and civilization, and use that to instill a bit of a morality play into the story.


Paperback, 384 pages
Expected publication: June 8th 2014 by Midnight Ink

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