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Dying to Live...Again

Adult; Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror; (Create)

Resentful of the man who dared to die after her neurosurgeon husband, who dedicated months of his life trying to bring him back from a trauma-induced coma, Dr. Marcia Gage uses her skills as a genius neuroscientist to bring John Doe back from the dead. After unlocking the secret to regenerating life, she starts to realize they are psychically linked and he is becoming obsessed with her. Marcia had unwittingly unleased a cold killer who is willing to protect her and have her to himself at all cost.
This husband-and-wife team’s second short novel is a taut, heady science fiction tale of resurrection and unbridled passion. Doctors Zach and Marcia Gage are two accomplished neurosurgeons. When Zach’s John Doe car crash victim, nicknamed Frank, goes into a coma and dies, Marcia finds herself consumed with a need for revenge. She administers a superhuman dose of a rare plant to Frank’s body, reviving him. Desperate to hide her breakthrough success, Marcia keeps Frank hidden, even as he turns violent against her coworkers. Inexplicably drawn to the undead man, Marcia will risk everything to save him and give him something back of his former life, even at the expense of her own.

The Earls layer the story with a clear sense of tension and unease, peppered with moments of humor, while offering a detailed glimpse of behind-the-scenes work in hospitals and morgues. Readers might be divided on the trajectory of the narrative: Marcia, admittedly a talented neuroscientist, happens rather coincidentally upon a life-altering natural medicine from an African tribe to resurrect the presciently nicknamed Frank. The convenience of this might raise eyebrows, but the ensuing suspense and intrigue make up for it.

The most potentially divisive choice is also the novel’s most interesting: Marcia’s affair with the reanimated man. Still, her character seems rather one-note: Her coldness and callousness suggest she could develop into a memorable antihero, but her sexual dreams about Frank (wherein a strong orgasm wakes her from her slumber) and her overstated longings (“Although Zach had been gone for only a few days, Marcia’s loins were aching for some manly attention”) blunt the nuance. Her actions are not tempered with many persuasive moments of empathy—for instance, Marcia’s decision to not sleep with Frank in her marital bed comes too late to have much impact. Frank, meanwhile, is given more lifelike treatment, an inquisitive character capably fleshed out.

Takeaway: This tense novel of resurrection walks a fine line between science fiction and romance.

Great for fans of: Jesse Petersen’s Living with the Dead series, Joan Frances Turner’s Dust.

Production grades
Cover: C
Design and typography: B
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B-
Marketing copy: B