The dark, mystical themes in ‘Dark Roots’


Edward Rosick’s first book was on a medical topic — understandably, given he is a Lansing-area physician. 

But his second book is quite different: It’s a horror novel.  

Rosick compared his new book, “Deep Roots,” to the early works of Stephen King and Dean Koontz. His writing style and themes lean toward H.P. Lovecraft’s speculative fiction. 

The novel follows the life of ex-con Kevin Ciano, a 30-year-old who tries to make a way for himself in contemporary Detroit after serving a prison sentence for assault. While in prison, Ciano was tattooed and subjected to scarification. His tattoos and scars are in the order of black magic, which he later traces back to ancient Vikings. From there, Ciano attempts to stay on the right path following his release from prison, but an unusual affliction causes him to descend into madness.  

Ancient myths and beliefs have always interested Rosick, and, he said, “they lent itself to this story.” Beyond that, he rates this novel “a hard R and not for anyone who is under 16.”  

A good portion of “Deep Roots” follows Ciano and his new girlfriend, Sherri. She’s a member of the Motor City Fire Masters — an edgy performance art group in Detroit. Rosick said the group is a “really exotic aspect” to the book, which readers will find is an understatement.  

Many descriptions of the performance art are technical, as the writer falls back on his day job as a doctor in practice at Michigan State University’s Family and Community Medicine. Some of the descriptions are gasp-worthy, but Rosick wants readers to know that the dark story doesn’t represent himself, personally. 

“It’s important to separate the art from the artist,” he said.  

Rosick, whose short, wide-ranging stories have been published in anthologies for decades, stressed this new book’s theme is mostly about how “bad decisions can lead to bad consequences,” which is shown through Kevin’s life.  

“He may be the protagonist of the book, but he is not the hero,” he said.  

The author does interject a theme into the book that’s close to his work as a family practice doctor. As Ciano’s lesions become worse, he is stymied in seeking medical care because of lack of insurance. 

“The disparity of medical care drives me crazy,” said Rosick, whose first book was “Optimal Prevention: Common-sense Ways to Avoid the Five Most Common Killer Diseases Today,” published in 2016. 

Looking ahead, Rosick is already working on his next book, a novel set in the Upper Peninsula’s Huron Mountains. A small group of people are forced to seek shelter in an old cabin during a raging snowstorm. The outlier is a Waheela, a mythical evil spirit in the form of a large wolf-like creature.  

He said the style will differ dramatically from “Dark Roots” and will tell the story from a variety of points of view, including a 13-year-old Native American boy and a 7-year-old dog. Meanwhile, “Dark Roots” uses a single point of view to tell the story from Ciano’s perspective. 

Rosick’s “Dark Roots” is definitely a two-night read that may result in some unsettling dreams.


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