I’m not sure many people would volunteer for the job of Death. It’s not an easy occupation, which involves collecting all of the souls of those who have perished. The list keeps growing, no matter how hard and fast he works. But it’s a job that Grim Alfonso Reaper takes seriously.
Anthony Lund’s Grim Reaping, is a humorous tale about the Grim Reaper. Even though his job is daunting, usually everything goes according to plan for Grim. He shows up at the moment someone dies, asks them a few questions, and sends them on to their eternity either in Heaven or Hell. Then one day his list tells him to collect the soul of an elderly gravedigger named Boris Morris. The old gentleman has already had two minor heart attacks. Grim is confused why Boris was still digging graves at his age. When Grim asks Boris why he was digging this particular grave the gentleman’s answer surprises Grim. Boris says that his entire life had been leading up to digging this grave. Whose grave was so important? Boris had been assigned to dig Grim’s grave.
As it turns out, there’s a group called the Wee who are plotting Grim’s death. They aren’t the first group to attempt it, but they prove to be a difficult rebellion for Grim and his friends to squash. The members of the Wee run around in green lycra suits. It doesn’t seem like it should be such a difficult task to track down killers who wear green lycra. However, there are thousands of them. That makes things trickier. And Grim has to find out who is in charge of the Wee. Will the Wee or Grim be successful?
Lund’s novel is a refreshing twist to fantasy novels. While many of the characters in this novel run around like chickens with their heads chopped off, Grim keeps a cool head. On the surface, Grim comes across as a one-dimensional character. A name is added to his list, he collects the soul, and he moves on to his next task. However, when Lund started to peel away Grim’s layers, I found myself really liking the guy. I know, liking Death, how could I? He’s absurdly funny, especially when he isn’t trying to be. Lund has a knack for playful banter between his characters. And through this device, he reveals much about his characters and the plot.
Yet, at times I felt that the playful banter took too much precedence, and slowed down the action of the novel. On one hand, it added to the drama. On the other, it made me lose focus. The most difficult aspect of this novel for me was Grim’s sidekick, Pinkie, who is short, fat, clumsy, and stupid. It took some effort to get used to Pinkie’s speech pattern. All he ever utters is ar, or arrrrr. After he speaks, Lund has Grim translate for him. If used sparingly I think it would have been more effective. What I didn’t understand was if Grim could understand Pinkie, why not supply the translation for the reader instead of always utilizing Grim as the interpreter. The reader would know that others wouldn’t be able to understand Pinkie. Lund’s tactic slowed down the suspense. I will admit that Pinkie’s character grew on me as I continued reading the novel. If Lund continues with this character, I hope he doesn’t include too many ars or arrrrs for Pinkie. He’s a fun character and I would hate it if I started to cringe every time I saw his name. Quirky characters are great as long as they don’t get annoying.
Overall, I enjoyed this novel. It’s kitschy, but fun. If you are looking for serious literature about death, I wouldn’t suggest this book at all. If you are looking for a few chuckles and some head-scratching moments over twists and turns, I would recommend Grim Reaping. And if the author continues with Grim’s story I would love to read it. I give the novel 4 out of 5 stars.