the_author() rating onrating onrating onrating onrating half


Death Becomes Him

By Fiona Gregory, editor

Sep 6, 2013: "I’m not joking. If I were, you’d be laughing. I’m hilarious."

Weirdly witty and compelling are words that could describe Garavol the Grim Reaper, as well as the story "The Zombie Knight" itself, right from page one. I’ve always thought dialogue was a great way to start a story and draw the reader in, and here we have an intriguing opening conversation between a successfully suicidal teen and a "grim reaper" come to make an offer he could refuse, if he’d really wanted to die. I was convinced as quickly as young Hector to put myself under thrall to the story and give the "Zombie Knight" a try. The pages are short and very turnable.

Don’t be fooled by the title, this isn’t a Romero style zombie apocalypse. It’s closer to the idea of the traditional Haitian zombie raised to serve the will of a magician – only Garavol gives a better deal for the "zombie" as he gets to retain his faculties of reason and gains some superpowers to help him rescue people in imminent danger of death. However, Hector and Garavol’s initial bull in a china shop approach to dealing with bad guys has some unintended consequences.

One of the most charming aspects of the story is seeing how the miserably shy and lonely boy blossoms in unexpected ways, finding in unlife what he needed all along, a way to make a difference and a friend who cares about him. Frost has created a flawed character who is very appealing and sympathetic.

A couple things bothered me a bit. At one point, to avoid recognition Hector puts on a welding mask, then proceeds to sprint with enhanced speed down a crowded city street in broad daylight, leaping over cars. Sounds like a good way to have multiple people calling the police to report suspicious activity, at the least. Also, the setting seems just like modern Earth, but the author makes a point of it not being modern Earth, but a imaginary world with fantastic sounding place names except for the city Hector lives in, which is called Brighton (a geographical version of the Bob and Aeirith trope?). But no, it’s not Brighton, England, or even Brighton, New York, or any of the other myriad Brightons of our world. No doubt the author has a good reason for doing this, which may even have already been revealed to those who have read further than I. But in the early chapters, it feels annoying, because it seems like the setting might as well be our modern Earth, and then it would be easier to gauge whether the odd things that happen are something totally unheard of.

Minor quibbles aside, this is original, wryly amusing, and very prolifically posted –worth checking out.

9 of 9 members found this review helpful.
Help us improve!  Request an invite or log in to rate this review.