This debut novel is a frightening but labored journey through the perils of unfettered scientific research.
The victim in this horrific tale, the first of a planned series, is Sarah Douglas, who has spent much of her young life battling leukemia. At an ill-conceived party staged at an abandoned mine, Sarah gets bitten by a mutant bat…and begins to change. Sarah's alcoholic father is convinced to let stock villain Dr. Scott take over her medical care. The good doctor, however, is indirectly responsible for these altered animals; following the destruction of Scott's first facility by a rogue researcher, a patient injected with Scott's first attempt at an AIDS cure escaped and ran into the mines, where he contaminated the bats with a mutated virus. Scott is taking no chances this time, telling his second-in-command, "With all the activity that is going on in the area, people may suspect that we have rebuilt the centre. I don't want any of my work destroyed or compromised ever again." Despite Scott's vigilance, Sarah escapes and becomes attached to the clan of bats as she transforms from Scott's treatments and becomes more animalistic. The novel centers on the battle for Sarah's soul, as she knows she doesn't belong either with the humans or the mutants. At one point, tormented Sarah screams, "What have I done to deserve this?" The author rightfully places irresponsible genetic testing under the microscope in this lengthy techno-thriller. But Myerscough puts a premium on action, with characterization getting short shrift as a result. Sarah is one of but a few sympathetic characters, as the rest get decimated in the war between Scott's mercenaries and the mutant bats across an isolated Ontario battlefield. Myerscough has sought to create a cautionary tale about uncontrolled DNA tampering, but he uses a machete where a scalpel is needed. As the body count rises, numbed readers may start to lose track of his warning.
An intriguing scientific concept that unfortunately devolves into a splatterfest.
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