- Title: Resurrection Men
- Author: David Craig
- Series: Sooty Feathers, #1
- Genre: Historical/Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Mystery
- Publishing Date: August 31st, 2018
- Publishing Co.: Elsewhen Press
- Length: 424 pages
- Format: Kindle, Paperback
- Acquired: Given free digital version in exchange for an honest review
- Amazon Link: Resurrection Men
Wilton Hunt, a student, and Tam Foley, a laudanum-addicted pharmacist, are pursuing extra-curricular careers as body snatchers, or ‘resurrection men’, under cover of darkness. They exhume a girl’s corpse, only for it to disappear while their backs are turned. Confused and in need of the money the body would have earnt them, they investigate the corpse’s disappearance. They discover that bodies have started to turn up in the area with ripped-out throats and severe loss of blood, although not the one they lost. The police are being encouraged by powerful people to look the other way, and the deaths are going unreported by the press. As Hunt and Foley delve beneath the veneer of respectable society, they find themselves entangled in a dangerous underworld that is protected from scrutiny by the rich and powerful members of the elite but secretive Sooty Feathers Club.
Meanwhile, a mysterious circus arrives in the middle of the night, summoned as allies to help avenge a betrayal two centuries old…
First Chapter Challenge: 17 pages
In this first chapter, we are introduced to whom I assume are our main characters, Foley and Hunt. They are knee-deep (literally) in the act of stealing a dead body from a graveyard to sell to a medical doctor, when the body mysteriously vanishes. I am already intrigued! Not only do I love the early medical element (I am fascinated by medieval/ very early medicine and medicinal instruments), but I want to know what happened to the body! Did someone else steal her while they were filling the grave back in? Was she actually buried alive and they happened to save her just before suffocation took her for real? Is something darker going on here? I need to know!
Final Judgment: 4.5 Stars out of 5
In this seemingly normal story about a couple of body snatchers from Glasgow, Scotland in the late 19th century, David Craig takes us on a terrifying and unexpected journey fraught with creatures from a nightmare. Foley and Hunt wind their way through coverups and mystery, kidnappings and brainwashing, even murders, all simply so they can go back to their normal, mundane lives of scrounging up enough money to take to the bar at night and keep Foley’s pharmacy open during the day. But when they begin to uncover the secrets of the Sooty Feathers Club, their lives can no longer be “normal.” Now, Foley and Hunt have to fight for their lives with the help of the age-old Templars and a woman with a grudge. Will they be able to beat back the evil penetrating Glasgow? Or will they end up as a Vampyre’s midnight meal?
“Men whisper of the dead returning to prey on the living. Of treaties made with demons, and souls traded for power. Defiance is answered with death.” (pg 104)
This is my first real historical fantasy novels that I have actually finished. I tend to become bored with historical fantasy–especially urban–preferring instead the medieval sword-fighting kind. As such, when I began reading the first few chapters, my attitude toward the book dwindled, until I had to practically kick myself to pick it up again to read. But after chapter 3 or so, I started loving it. It was so unexpected, that I didn’t even realize it at first; I read 40% in one sitting and only stopped because I had happened to glance at the clock! One of the reasons I gave this book such a high rating is that it is good. It doesn’t matter whether your’re a historical fantasy reader or a fan of vampires, even if you’re not, it’s still a great book! I applaud its versatility in catering to all kinds of different audiences.
Dead men told no tales. Well, that’s not always true. (pg. 137)
So, I will admit that I had no idea that this was going to be a vampire book (I also tend to steer away from those as well… whoops). It started off so normal with a bit of mystery, that I didn’t even realize that it had supernatural elements until I stumbled right into it about a fourth of the way through. But even so, this take on vampires is so detailed and rooted in history that I loved it. It lent credibility to the story and was original enough that I wasn’t constantly comparing it to the multitudes of other vampire works. I loved the hierarchy and little details added in to round out the backstory of the creatures.
I will also admit that in the beginning, it was difficult for me to differentiate between Foley and Hunt. The character building is somewhat minimal, expect for Hunt, which rounds him out gradually in snippets. The plot is also a little slow in gaining momentum and engagement (at least for me, who is not a fan of the genre in general), although it does contain hints of mystery and conflict. I think my biggest issue with it was getting into the time period and the setting itself. It also didn’t help that there are some snippets from the 1400s sprinkled in, and I had not picked up on that the first time it occurred. I was so confused and disoriented, thinking that the entire novel was set in the 1400s, or was time-shifting. But that was a small issue, easily remedied as I continued reading. In the end, the snippets added just a little extra flavor to the story.
“You’ll need me to hold your hand,” Foley said. “You’ve a habit of getting beaten up when I’m not around.”
“I get beaten up when you are around. But thank you.”
Sirk took a considering breath. “You pair can’t be trusted to unbutton your flies before taking a piss without supervision. I’ll graciously lend my not-inconsiderable intellect and wisdom.”
“Your presence will be a boon,” Hunt said. “We can hide behind your swollen head if they shoot at us.” (pg. 369)
I absolutely loved the sarcastic humor. Foley and Hunt together meant that I would be snorting every other dialogue. Even when they were apart, Foley and the professor, or even other characters, had quite the wit. It was the perfect balance between mystery/suspense/horror and comedy. Rather than making the story swing to the absurd, the comedy instead strengthened the other elements and added just a bit of relief for the reader to catch their breath before diving in again.
Going back to the plot, it was absolutely amazing in the last half of the novel. There were gut-wrenching twists that I never in a million years would have seen coming. Everything was so unexpected and played in so nicely with everything else going on. And the ending. Oh my goodness the ending. It was AMAZING. After I was finished reading, I was literally sitting on my couch, stunned. I had yelled through the entire last 1% of the book, giddy and excited. It was the perfect way to wrap up the novel.