R.L. King ‘Dead Heart’ Review
Written by: Kate Genet
To get the most enjoyment out of reading, you enter into something of an agreement with the writer. It goes like this:
Reader – ‘When I pick up your book I’m going to fall into its pages like I’m falling through a door into a new world. I’m going to put aside my natural-born skepticism, that hard-ass attitude I need to get through my days in the real world, and I’m going to be a trusting new-born passed into your keeping. I’m going to do my best to believe, I’m going to allow myself to be hoodwinked by your honeyed words; I want to go on this trip with you. I want to care about the people you’ve made up like they’re real, my family, my neighbors, my new best friends, my nightmares. I’m ready and willing.’
It’s not just the reader who signs their name on the dotted line though. The writer has to come to the party, and in a big way:
Writer – ‘I hereby agree (to the best of my ability) to produce something like a continuous dream for you. I’ll make the details as believable as I can, make the world of my imagination as solid as possible so that you can enter into this place of my making, and feel almost that it’s real. I’ll build a foundation that’s sturdy enough to stack the tricks on so you can believe right along with me, feel the thrills and heart spills, laugh, cry and maybe even scream whilst you’re deep among my pages. I’ll do my best to make it so that when you put my book down, you’ll be blinking like a new babe in the sunlight, hardly recognizing your old, familiar world.’
Dead Heart has one of the best first lines I’ve come across in a long time. In fact, there are a few pretty awesome one-liners sprinkled throughout the book. The story is a roller-coaster ride from one disturbing place to another, and if there’s one thing it’s definitely not, it’s predictable. There’s a bit of everything for horror fans – spooky supernatural stuff, high-adrenaline scenes of weirdness, and several bucketful’s of gore.
What spoils the book however, is the author hasn’t kept his side of the bargain – to make it as realistic as possible. Especially when writing stories of the supernatural, horror, and high strangeness, it is essential to place your story in a setting that is recognizable, that is real, that is based on solid fact. Place a story in a setting we can recognize and trust, and we’re all the more likely to continue believing when the shit hits the fan and things turn weird.
But R. L. King lets us down. He gets the medical details of one character glaringly wrong early on in the book, and just with that one error, his credibility was blown (especially considering his main character is a doctor). In a later section, the action takes place in a setting (I don’t want to give spoilers) that bears not even a passing resemblance to the real-life counterpart. If a writer doesn’t get the basic facts right, upon which their story is set, then I might continue reading, but I’m no longer prepared to continue believing.
R.L King has some talent as a writer, and on one level his story was enjoyable, but it would have been far more satisfying had he kept to that unwritten agreement, and helped me believe. The truth is out there – hell, we all know that, right? It just wasn’t in this book.
Order it here.
About the author: Kate genet has loved horror since she was twelve years old and wanting to be an exorcist. The Exorcist movie cured her of that, and she decided writing was more her style anyway. She can be found at www.kategenet.com and also does professional blurb writing at www.bookblurbist.wordpress.com Connect on Twitter – @kategenet
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