DarkEcho Horror
deccoclock by Rick Berry
Book Review

Walking Wounded
by Robert Devereaux
ISBN 0-440-21794-6
PB/Dell Books/$5.50

Robert Devereaux writes like a woman. People who insist gender has something to do with how and what you write would assume that any author who can depict female emotion, sexuality, and inner life so well must be female. I guess we can toss that adage into the trash along with "women don't write horror."

In his first novel, Deadweight, Devereaux's central character was an abused woman and he got it right. Now, in Walking Wounded, he is still dealing with empowerment issues and a woman's perception of the world. The book, at times, reminds one of Margaret Atwood's subtle twisting looks into the female psyche.

The author also deals with our ability to make choices in life and the effects of those choices. (It is interesting that Dell's other "horror" title for 1996, Elizabeth Engstrom's remarkable Lizard Wine, had a great deal to do with making choices as well.)

It's difficult to convey the plot of Walking Wounded without giving the wrong impression. Devereaux, from the top, convinces the reader to accept that Katt, his pivotal character, has healing powers. He also shows us that choices and actions that may be perceived as "bad" cannot, in context, be considered in such moralistic terms. Add to that the convolutions of love, bisexuality, and the reality of human relationships begun in cyberspace; a depth of spirituality; some philosophy on death, abuse, and a crazy guy with a drill--well, you see? You may already be getting the wrong impression. It can be read, admittedly, as a slightly supernatural, occasionally scary, and fairly sexy look at modern relationships and the evils that may lurk inside ourselves as well as without. But there are elements that take you deeper as there are some depths here to explore.

The underlying strength of Walking Wounded lies in its full characterization of every individual (including a 13-year-old boy) one encounters in the course of the book. They all live in a world so deftly woven by Devereaux that one never pauses to question anything that the plot brings. It's a masterful display of style, craft, and imagination.

Ultimately one is left with an examination of the power of emotions and a confrontation with darkness. It's a book that both unsettles and comforts and, yes, makes one think. Good fiction does that and Walking Wounded is just that. -- Paula Guran

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Copyright © 2002 Paula Guran. All Rights Reserved.