Title: Don’t Fear the (Not Really Grim) Reaper
Author: Carole Cummings
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: January 11th 2019
Genre(s): Humour, Romance, Paranormal
Page Count: 62 pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
When unassuming college student Emery Sutton wakes up in the morgue, it takes him a few minutes to remember he has magic (superpowers, damn it!) and free himself from the refrigerated drawer. And the body bag. (God.) It doesn’t take long, though, for him to remember the hot guy with wings he ran into just before a city bus ran into him.
Junior Reaper John must explain to his supervisor how his first solo assignment went so wrong. All he knows is that he happened upon Emery quite by accident, that Emery saw John when he shouldn’t have been able to, and when they accidentally touched, a bus came out of nowhere and plowed Emery under. (John really does feel bad about that.)
Hot angels, annoying demons, hijinks, absurdity, drunk siblings, a dash of silly romance, an inordinate attachment to wings, and a highly disorganized bid for world domination—Don’t Fear the (Not Really Grim) Reaper follows Emery and John down the rabbit hole where they find that moms are scarier than demons from hell, a goat is not a puppy no matter what Emery’s sister says, and awkward romance can happen anywhere.
This a pleasant enough short read with quite a bit of humour. It is liberally dosed with references to film and familiar cultural points of reference. The most noticeable thing about the story is the relatively large number of characters whose role becomes apparent some way into the story. As such it is sometimes difficult to know who is central to the plot and who are peripheral. Character description is well done for a short story and centres on personality rather than physical description. The central character is largely passive throughout with much of the action and revelation happening to him. However, there is a thread of magic that is largely mentioned rather than acted upon, which is inherent to this character and his history. The relevance of this to the plot is largely tangential to the story and in fact could have been eliminated without having a significant effect. Descriptions of the surroundings are sufficient to provide context to the story but are not a key feature. Given the title, death is a central feature of the plot but there is no tension associated with this or any other action.
This is structured like a teen read, but it becomes apparent that the central characters are out of their teens. Sex is introduced but not really described either in terms of previous experience or action as part of the story. The relationship between the two central characters is crush-like but always seems to be at arms-length. This complicates the story because this should be at the heart of the tale but reflects a feature of the book where the characters are at the mercy of the plot rather than the other way around.
There is a steady pace to the story throughout with plenty going on. The key issue about this is that with no idea what is or is not relevant and an evolving plot the reader is not led by the hand and needs to concentrate maybe more than is necessary.
By the end of the book all becomes relatively clear. Roles of the key characters are revealed, as are the implications of their relationships. There is a happy ending of sorts, but there are sufficient points unresolved that leave the story open for a sequel.