cover image The Resurrectionist

The Resurrectionist

Jack O'Connell. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, $24.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-1-56512-576-6

Two worlds wrapped tight in gloomy gothic trappings vie for dominance in this engrossing, elaborately staged exploration of consciousness from O'Connell (The Skin Palace). Sweeney, an Ohio pharmacist, brings his comatose son, Danny, to the Peck Clinic, \x93a sandstone monster on fifty acres of private land near Quinsigamond's western border.\x94 Danny is all Sweeney lives for; he even studies the comic book Limbo, featuring a troupe of circus freaks led by the visionary Chick the chicken boy, for what his son may have imagined when his brain functioned normally. Like Stephen King in Richard Bachman mode, O'Connell digs for darkness as Chick and his companions, who inhabit the fantasy realm of Gehenna, encounter Dr. Lazarus Cole, \x93The Resurrectionist\x94 (stoned to death only to walk again) and dread the inevitable showdown with their nemesis, \x93the mad doctor called Fliess,\x94 in his \x93enormous laboratory castle, the Black Iron Clinic.\x94 Meanwhile, in the real world, cultists kidnap Sweeney in hopes of using fluid from Danny's brain to transport them all to Gehenna. This strange brew is sure to enhance O'Connell's growing cult status. (Apr.)