If you read enough of a writer’s work, you start to get a feeling for their strengths and weaknesses. And when an author gets in his groove, it can end up creating something truly magical. Jeffrey Wilson is a talented writer, no matter what he puts his hand to. But when he creates a story that is quintessentially about family, that is when he shines. In The Donors, he has done precisely that, and it is the readers who have benefited.
The Donors is a wonderfully well balanced story about evil, revenge, fate, and family. Set in primarily in a hospital, The Donors follows a little boy named Nathan who has experienced terrible things in his young life. But within him stirs a power that almost no one recognizes. No one, that is, but a doctor who also works in the hospital. He has seen the same dark visions as Nathan, and he knows that if the boy is to survive against the evil forces that hunt him and that neither of them fully comprehend, both of them will have to go to the blackest corners of their souls and confront the things that make nightmares happen.
I am constantly amazed by Jeff Wilson’s ability to spin believable and lovable characters out of seeming thin air. From the moment we meet Nathan, we are rooting for him. The same can be said for Dr. Gelman and the young nurse who quickly becomes his love interest. I cared about these people. I rooted for them to succeed. I was so invested in their efforts that I literally finished this novel in the span of twenty-four hours. It’s that good.
I want to say something about the “lizard men” who are the bad guys in The Donors, but I want to be careful not to give too much away. I love that they are clearly the antagonists in the book. They are evil, through and through. And yet, and yet. You will root for them. You will want them to succeed, in a certain way at least. I dare you not to celebrate when they pull off their first kill. The fact that we do says something about all of us. It’s rare that a horror novel manages to make such a profound statement about the human condition. The Donors accomplishes that in spades.
Jeffrey Wilson can spin a chilling scene with the best of them, but it’s his characters that make his writing so horrifying. These are real people and real families, and Wilson forces us to walk with them on a terrifying journey into the blackest shadows where creatures of primordial evil feed on their darkest fears. Highly recommended.