Steven de Selby’s job is to guide the dead to the underworld and as you can expect, things never run as smoothly as they should. Explosions, walking dead and the occasional apocalypse, but when Death is your business, business is always booming.
Death Most Definite is the first book in the Death Works series, it follows the premise that Death is a business and certain individuals and families, nicknamed Pomps, help the recently departed move into the afterlife, making their way to the One Tree.
Unfortunately for our main character, Steven, someone is killing off all the other Pomps in his region, including his parents and the love of his life - whom he hasn’t even meet yet and he must find out why. The story is set in Brisbane, Australia, which is refreshing (to me anyway) as I actually know the city and the places mentioned, and is set in the present day but obviously with its own little twists. Throw in come Stirrers, supernatural creatures who reanimate the dead to try and get back into the world of the living, and you know things will get interesting.
The story is broken up into two parts.
Part one provides a solid introduction to the world Steven inhabits, partners him with a recently dead female Pomp from Melbourne, Lissa (yes, he falls in love with a ghost) and concludes with him making the decision to nearly die and travel to the underworld in order to get help from his boss, Mr D.
The story is well written with some dark humour as Jamieson provides the reader a strong grounding in his world before he takes you down the rabbit hole. His initial depiction of Steven is one of a coaster who works in the family business for the simple reason he doesn’t know what else to do - and the money is good. It isn’t until the preverbal hits the fan that his inner hero comes out and we can begin to relate to the character.
One weakness I found in part one was the pace. In comparison to part two it had a slower tempo and you felt at times a desire for the story to ramp up as Steven slowly deals with the events happening around and too him. Part two is where the story really kicks in to gear. Steven enters the Underworld in order to track down Mr D, learns some home truths about the Business of Death and must pull an Orpheus Manoeuvre to save the girl.
I don't want to drop in too many spoilers at this point, but things really do pick up in this second part of the story. Death, battles, love, resurrection and a Chai latte sipping Cherub born from a tattoo on Steven's arm.
The concept behind Death and Grim Reapers has been one written a few times, but Jamieson has provided a fresh and unique perceptive to the model and one well worth reading. I enjoyed the pops of magic used throughout the story, it was understated but well placed. I would have liked Steven to have a little more in his arsenal, but the character performs well regardless.
Life, Death and the One Tree calls all, its branches sway and creak as soul after soul walks its paths, maintaining the cycle as old as time. Resurrect some time and start reading the Death Works series, it won't kill you and if it does Steven will be there to guide you home.
Review by Fergus McCartan
Fantasy Book Review has the pleasure to once again speak with acclaimed author Trent Jamieson in the week that his latest novel, Day Boy, is released.For those of you not familiar with Trent Jamieson he is an Australian fanta [...]
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