Name: Meghan Harker
Twitter Handle: @ExquisitelyOdd
Title: SUCH THE VULTURES LOVE
Genre: Adult Gothic Horror
Word Count: 109K
My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obsession is:
Henry Hyde is hell-bent on success, forgoing sleep, food, and his mental health to achieve his goals. For Henry, failure is a fate worse than death, and in his profession as a surgeon, death always looms at his door.
Henry Hyde, a twenty-three-year-old surgical student in nineteenth-century New York City, faces the impossible task of resurrecting the dead, a challenge he cannot avoid.
Henry devotes his studies to preserving the lives of others. His former friend-turned-rival, Thomas Walton, is a member of the Resurgenists, a sect of physicians seeking to reanimate corpses. Henry disagrees with their practices and makes no secret of his feelings.
Upon failing his final medical exam, Henry reels with despair, yet finds himself apprenticed to one of the finest surgeons at the college and also mentor to Annabelle McKittrick, the college’s first female student, a peculiar girl with an interest in cardiology. One evening, while intoxicated by ether, Henry makes a foolish bet with Walton: if Henry manages to not only revive the dead, but bring them back as the people they were, Walton will abandon his research and career. Henry vows to do the same should Walton win. In a moment of carelessness, Henry adds his life to the bargain, and Walton is more than willing to claim it as his prize. As pressure mounts, Henry finds himself in a dark place where grave robbery and murder hold the key to his impossible goal and fears not only for his sanity but also his life.
With Anna as his student, Henry must either discover the divide between life and death or risk becoming a cadaver himself.
Bringing the dead back to life was an art, a gift.
A gift I did not possess.
Nick adjusted the pillows, propping her upright in the chair. She had been young, approximately sixteen. The blush lingered in her cheeks, slowly fading. Thankfully, rigor mortis hadn't set in.
I surveyed the room, the darkened parlor silent, save for us. The family was out while we worked, unable to bear seeing their daughter in her current state. Dark fabric transformed concealed mirrors into huddled shadows, the curtains drawn to keep the light at bay. A mantle clock ticked beneath its shroud. I felt like a trespasser, walking through the bleak space between the living and the dead.
Bottles of processing fluids lined the table behind us, Nick's camera beside them. He repositioned her head, making her blank expression wistful.
I cringed. “This is grotesque."
"It's a kindness." Nick countered, arranging her hair over her shoulder. "A token by which her family can remember her. A portrait of the dead is better than nothing at all."
His words did nothing to settle unease in my chest. The girl didn't bother me; rather, the body didn't bother me. I spent most of my time among the dead, a consequence of devoting my life to study and surgery. I'd accompanied Nick to ensure the remains arrived safely to the morgue. No, it wasn't the body, but the nature of our mission. Creating a portrait of this deceased girl struck me as perverse, not for its puppetry, the playacting at life, but for its brilliance.