The Resurrection Tree and Other Stories, by Tony Cooper

The Resurrection Tree and Other Stories, by Tony Cooper book coverGenre:  Mixed Genre Anthology
Publisher:  CreateSpace
Published: 2015
Reviewer Rating: three and a half stars
Reviewer: David Jenkins

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A variety of dark stories, some in a real life setting, some in sci-fi settings and everything in between. Tony Cooper is best known for his dark superhero thriller Powerless series which has a flavor of Marvel’s Civil War, but grittier and more grounded. The Resurrection Tree anthology is also dark and horrifying with its realism, yet the stories are quite different from each other in style and subject. There are too many great stories for me to comment on each one so I have focused on my favorites.

The Resurrection Tree is told in third person, but the focus on the naivety of the child Katy is what makes this story more heart-breaking. After an accident she uses the Resurrection Tree to bring back her brother Daniel and rather than him being a zombie, a vampire, or some other possessed/undead creature, he’s seemingly normal. What follows is the family’s realistic struggle to come to terms with Daniel’s resurrection across time. This is the true horror as you can slowly see the build-up of tension with the Dad and worry what will happen. Tony catches Katy’s voice perfectly throughout the ages with her naivety, her fear, and guilt.

The Chaos Police obviously takes its queue from The Minority Report, but it’s different by focusing on how unintended actions and behaviors can cause problems. Nanny State to the extreme is another way to look at it. This story focuses on the apprehension of a ‘criminal’ and proving that he is a menace to society and by focusing on this style whilst we only get glimpses of personality from the characters we learn about the system. Any accident can be analyzed via social media and CCTV, amongst other technology, to see if there was an indirect cause like the woman on video chat who kept a tired but driver up late then his tiredness caused him to crash hours later. Whilst you could condemn the woman in this scenario which is horrifying in itself as she was unwitting, there are other types of people who are apprehended. Disorganized, people who rush about places, shout at others etc., people who we have all behaved like at some time. The effects of their actions are shown which is scary in itself. But what is terrifying is that you could believe technology could be used this way. Even though it’s sci-fi this is another realistic horror.

From the start of Seaview Hotel you can tell something is amiss, the mannerisms and dialogue of the tourists is wrong. The focus on appearance of the younger tourists and hotel staff compared to the rest of the group hints at vampirism, then there’s a mention of feeding and you know what’s coming. Or do you? A pact is made and whatever the plan is it’s well-structured then it happens. More mysterious than the other stories but not short on description, a different tale to the rest of anthology that I liked.

The Last Villain is interesting in that you can side with the narrator even though those of you who read comics will suspect that he is going to turn evil. He reminds me of Dr. Octopus in this respect. The passage of time is what makes this story all the more tragic and scary with every setback for the disgruntled scientist your sympathy goes out to him. Of course he turns out the bad guy and the last scene is great as it flips our view of him completely on its head. Like with The Resurrection Tree and several stories in this collection you can see the mistakes of the main character but would you do any different? One final point on this story, even though it’s more science-based than the rest, it has just the right amount of scientific jargon to seem like a possibility but not put off readers.

Overall, this is a varied and unpredictable short story collection although all the stories are dark, they have different settings and styles. However, they are all grounded in realism, whether it’s in the characters or the situation and that makes this collection all the more terrifying.

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