David Craig's Resurrection Men was published by Elsewhen Press in a digital edition in August 2018 and the paperback edition was published in October 2018.
Information about David Craig:
Aside from three months living on an oil tanker sailing back and forth between America and Africa, and two years living in a pub, David Craig grew up on the west coast of Scotland. He studied Software Engineering at university, but lost interest in the subject after (and admittedly prior to) graduation. He currently works as a resourcing administrator for a public service contact centre, and lives near Glasgow with his wife and two rabbits.
Being a published writer has been a life-long dream, and one he is delighted to finally realise with his debut novel, Resurrection Men, the first in the Sooty Feathers series.
Information about Resurrection Men:
There’s a supernatural war brewing...
...for control of the Second City of the British Empire
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…
Resurrection Men is the first book in David Craig’s Sooty Feathers series, a masterful gothic tale about a supernatural war for control of the Second City of the British Empire, and the struggle of flawed characters of uncertain virtue who try to avert it. It is set in a late 19th century Glasgow ruled by the undead - from the private clubs, town houses and country estates of the privileged to the dung-choked wynds and overcrowded slums of the poor. Undead unrest, a fallen angel, and religious zealots intent on driving out the forces of evil, set the stage for a diabolical conflict of biblical proportions.
REVIEW: RESURRECTION MEN BY DAVID CRAIG
David Craig's Resurrection Men is the first novel in the Sooty Feathers series. It's a captivating and enjoyable reading experience for readers who like dark speculative fiction novels and enjoy gothic stories. It's one of the most thrilling debut novels I've read in ages.
When I began to read this novel, I took an instant liking to it and found it entertaining. Because I love dark and well written stories, I enjoyed the gradually unfolding story and was pleased to read about well-realised and flawed protagonists who had money problems and found themselves amidst a supernatural war.
What makes Resurrection Men special is that it's a fresh combination of historical urban fantasy and gothic historical fantasy with horror and mystery elements. It can also be classified as a horror-fantasy novel, because it has quite a lot of dark fantasy and horror elements.
One of the best and most noticeable things about this novel is that it's an original take on supernatural elements. Although it has several popular speculative fiction and mystery elements, the author delivers a refreshingly creative and entertaining story. I like the author's vision of the supernatural, because he takes his time to ground his story in reality before delving deeper into supernatural elements.
Here's a bit of information about the story:
In February 1893, a mysterious circus arrives in the City of Glasgow. George Rannoch has been expecting their arrival and knows that three allies will help deliver a revenge on three enemies... In March 1893, Wilton Hunt and Tam Foley are digging up a corpse in the Southern Necropolis cemetery, because a medical professor, Angus Miller, is interested in receiving a body of a young woman, Amy Newfield. When they have exhumed the body and are about to move it elsewhere, the body mysteriously disappears. They begin to investigate the corpse's disappearance and find out that murders are being covered up in the city... Reverend John Redfort is visited by a man who delivers him a message from the Council, because some recent deaths have come to the Council's attention: two bodies bearing significant wounds have been found in the South Side of the city near the Southern Necropolis. The Council wishes full enquiries made into this matter... One day, Wolfgang Steiner arrives in the city to cleanse it from evil...
What I've described above serves as the beginning for mesmerising happenings.
David Craig has written a surprisingly layered story. At first, the story seems straightforward and simple, but becomes more complex as readers find out what is happening in the city and how it is controlled by the undead. The complexity of the story is enhanced by the author's attention to characters and details (the author has clearly researched historical and religious details).
The characterisation works well, because the author has created fascinatingly flawed protagonists. The protagonists are Wilton Hunt, a university student, and Tam Foley, a laudanum-addicted pharmacist. They have secret careers as body snatchers who dig up fresh corpses for money.
Here are a few words about the protagonists and other characters:
- Wilton Hunt doesn't get along well with his parents, because he doesn't want to be part of the family business. He has been financially cut off from his wealthy family and has become a body snatcher so that he has a means of income. He is still torn between shame and wonder at how far he is willing to go to maintain his independence. He is a lodger at Tam Foley's flat. Together with Foley, he delivers corpses to the university professor, Angus Miller.
- Tam Foley joined the army when he was young, but due to familial pressure he resigned his commission to follow in the family's pharmaceutical trade. When his parents died of influenza, he inherited the Foley Pharmacy and the tenement flat above it. He is addicted to opium and drinks quite a lot, because he uses drugs and alcohol to drown and quiet his inner demons.
- Wolfgang Steiner is an interesting man, because he is a Knight-Inquisitor of the Templar Order, who battles against the forces of evil. He is determined to root out evil in Glasgow.
- Reverend John Redfort is an ambitious man who is grasping for power. He wants to become part of the Council.
There are also other intriguing characters in this novel, but I won't write about them in this review, because I might end up revealing too much information about the story and its plot twists.
Glasgow in the late 19th century is a perfect backdrop for body snatching, vicious murders and other dark happenings. The author's depiction of Glasgow feels authentic, because he mentions places that actually exist in the city. In his story, Glasgow comes to life as he tells of its people (the wealthy and the poor), streets, clubs and cemeteries in an atmospheric way. Glasgow is depicted as a vibrant city that has a dark and evil underbelly.
I found myself enjoying many scenes in this novel. As an example of a perfect scene, I can mention that the scene in which Hunt visits his parents on his birthday and meets his mother is simply brilliant. The author perfectly describes how both characters feel about the situation and what kind of tension there is between them. I can also reveal that the hanging of the notorious murderer is an excellent scene and what happens afterwards is especially intriguing and gruesome. The ending is simply brilliant, because it's a perfect and well written surprise ending that leaves readers wanting for more.
This novel reminds me a bit of the British black comedy film Burke and Hare (2010) and the TV series Penny Dreadful (2014-2016), but is different from them. It also has elements that will please readers who have enjoyed novels written by Tarn Richardson and Mark A. Latham.
David Craig is a talented new author who writes good and straightforward prose. His writing style is satisfyingly fluent and he effortlessly spices up his dark story with bits and pieces of humour. He also uses horror and mystery elements in a fluent way. I look forward to reading the next instalment, because I liked this novel a lot and loved the ending.
If you enjoy reading dark stories and want to read something compelling and entertaining, David Craig's Resurrection Men is sure to please you, because it's a highly enjoyable and impressive debut novel. It has plenty of entertainment values and the protagonists are charmingly flawed and fascinating individuals.