"Sacrifice" Book Review
Written by Wrath James White
2011, 180 pages, Fiction
Released on September 10th, 2011
There's no doubt Wrath James White can write some of the best hardcore horror out there. In fact, his 2011 release with Deadite Press, Like Porno for Psychos, made my top-ten list for the year. However, after reading Sacrifice, the author's first release with Sinister Grin Press, I can safely say that White is much more than a master of gore and emotionally gritty storytelling; he's an amazing writer than can seemingly bring together the best elements of a plethora of genres into a fast-paced, absorbing novel.
In Sacrifice, Las Vegas Homicide Detective John Malloy is forced to deal with that which he hates most: an apparently unexplainable case. It starts with a man who's eaten by his own dog and an army of insects and rats. The day after, an elementary school teacher is beaten to death and then devoured by his students while being stung by a swarm of bees and attacked by a flock of birds. Coupled with the disappearance of young girls all across town, Malloy and his partner, Detective Mohammed Rafik, are pushed into the churning epicenter of bloody weirdness. Meanwhile, April, a woman who struggles with a traumatic past and a boyfriend that just left her, meets Delilah and starts to fall madly in love. Delilah, a beautiful black woman who's the leader of a cult, has a special gift: she can take away the fear, regret and hate that people carry inside them. Her gift, the deaths and the disappearing girls are all somehow connected, and it will take Malloy and Rafik a lot of work to figure out just how deep and dangerous the connection between those things really is.
The great things that we have come to expect from Wrath are all here: gore, fast prose, racial commentary, voodoo and superb storytelling. Nevertheless, Sacrifice brings more to the table. For starters, the novel is deliciously multilayered. Besides the killings and Delilah's background, the relationships between April and Delilah, Delilah and her followers, Malloy and Rafik and Rafik and his wife all add texture and depth to the narrative. Also, while clearly being a horror novel, Sacrifice has a plot that seamlessly alternates between a supernatural thriller, a police procedural and a mystery. Last but not least, there is a dash of humor here and there, which helps carry the story and gives a glimpse into the detectives' partnership.
Gripping is a word that gets tossed around too easily in the world of book reviews. In this case, however, absorbing applies perfectly. In fact, you can go ahead and use that other horrible cliché and call Sacrifice "unputdownable." The action comes at you fast, the dialogue is top-notch, the killings are classic Wrath and the psychology behind the community that follows Delilah is truly an interesting concept. Throw in the humor between the detectives, April's guilt, some blood drinking, steamy sex, marital mayhem and a good dose of what can only be considered smart misogyny coming from Malloy, and what you get is a very entertaining novel that needs to be read.