Imagine a world where 2% of the population don’t stay dead. Where those who come back can help you by exchanging your death for one of theirs – for a suitable fee, plus expenses. Where these Death Replacement Agents can cure many – but not all – forms of death. Where not everyone is happy that these people exist. This is the world Kory M. Shrum creates in her debut Jesse Sullivan novel and it’s scarily realistic.
Now, hand on heart, I’m only halfway through this one. But if I do the review now I’m not in any danger of revealing anything spoilery.
The book so far is peppered with little details, snippets of information that flesh out the world without seeming like a massive information dump – the Sensitivity Seminar is an especially rich vein of these. There’s enough throwaway information there to make a decent RPG sourcebook and more than comes across in many Urban Fantasy novels I’ve read where such information is hoarded jealously and drip-fed over several volumes. The way it’s delivered is like a sprinkle of salt over the text – it adds flavour but doesn’t overpower the underlying words.
Halfway in and things have just taken a turn for the strange. Stranger. I mean when you’re dealing with a woman who can return from dead you’ve got to redefine your baseline-strangeometer. So far, the pacing has been excellent (unlike the x-key on this laptop which seems to be failing intermittently), and the story is building nicely.
The problem? The wait for the next book. This is a world I already want to revisit, lead characters cast in sufficient shades of grey.
Sure, some of the background characters aren’t fleshed out, they’re there for specific purposes and do their jobs to the best of their abilities, but then every book has those – your lead character needs a car? There’s a friend they can borrow from. Need the Blue Beetle repaired? There’s a garage it goes to and we only know the owner’s name. I dearly wish Real Life worked that way.
Bottom line, I’d give this a solid 4/5 so far, and that’s a high 4 – we’ll see what the last page brings and revise it then.
I’d like to thank Kory for letting me read this before it goes on sale on the 4th of March and my wife for agreeing that this would make an excellent book at bedtime.