Sunday, January 17, 2016

Book Review: The Surgeon's Mate by Alan M. Clark

The Surgeon's Mate by Alan M. Clark

Paperback 242 pages

IFD Publishing

You probably know Alan Clark's award winning work, but not his name. His amazing artwork has been paired up with Jeremy Robert Johnson, Cody Goodfellow, Brian Keene, Edward Lee and Stephen King to name a few. If you look at his list of his credits for cover art your mind will be blown. Most serious genre readers know his work. In the last few years Clark has shifted little by little from art to prose writing a series of novels. The transition started with the Bram Stoker award nominated novel Siren Promised (Co-written with Jeremy Robert Johnson). That horror novel about addiction features wall to wall paintings and drawings. A must see, a must read.

In the last few years Clark has devoted much of his output to a series of novels about the victims of Jack the Ripper. I reviewed The second book in the series Say Anything But your Prayers here. "I would consider this novel to be horror but the historical elements are what make this piece so interesting. You can’t escape the main character’s fate as you go through her life, tension builds because you know how she will meet her end." I also did a interview with Alan right here on the blog.

The Surgeon's Mate is not in the ripper victim series but it has serious connections to every painting and story Clark has created. As a fan of mind bending concepts, inter-related plotting across multiple stories and media The Surgeon's Mate is a masterpiece. This novel has a plot that bobs and weaves like a boxer, when that punch finally comes you will have trouble staying on your feet.

Part memoir part fiction the lines are blurred from beginning to end.The tale of a artist/ author named Aiden Clark who struggles to survive after a brain abscess almost kills him. In the wake of the crisis he is haunted by visions of a man named Frederick who in the 19th century fought the desire to explore violence against women. As a assistant to a Surgeon traveling the world on ships he progressively explores the darkness. At the same time Aiden is trying to enjoy the light of his family when his career is to explore the darkness.

The final act of The Surgeon's Mate is like woven tapestry being pulled tight. The ending is both thrilling and heartbreaking. This is a horror novel that balances a dark bizarro high concept with a emotionally rich character study that is clearly written infront of a mirror. Really Fantastic. Big Thumps up.

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