Not knowing who Sean Stewart was prior to reading Resurrection Man, it was more than a pleasant surprise to find such a well written book with poignant themes. Hiding on the margins of literature, Stewart’s novel tells the story of a Hungarian family living in the US and their attempts to come to terms with skeletons in the closet after WII, both personal and familial. But it is not the 1950’s America you know from history; magic in the form of charms and strange, unexplainable occurrences are a natural part of everyday life.
The opening lines of the novel find the protagonist Dante staring down at his own dead body. Thinking it an ill omen, he sets about solving the riddle. But Dante is not alone in unraveling the mystery. His mysterious adopted brother Jet hangs on the periphery, offering the most spiritual of advice, while his sister, Sarah, fights personal problems of her own. The relationships she has with men and her mother are less than straight-forward.
In Resurrection Man, alliteration and fantasy are interwoven seamlessly. More magic realism than pure fantasy, Stewart’s gifted prose delivers the story on a cutting edge. Description clear, dialogue focused, and similes spot-on and never overused, the line between fantasy and reality becomes an afterthought.
My only complaint about Resurrection Man is that despite the realistic portrayal, characterization seemed to take a back seat to the delicious plot devices and magic overtones. But Dante, his father, Jet, Sarah and the others are presented so realistically that the overall value of the book does not suffer. Resurrection Man is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys psychological explorations, particularly with a touch of the supernatural. This is a gem of literary fantasy.