REAPER is Katrina Monroe’s debut novel from Melange Books. I reviewed an advanced digital book.
This fast-paced urban fantasy follows Oz, a recently-deceased writer who serves in the Department of Creative Death and Ironic Punishment writing deaths for others. He counts his days on a seemingly endless kitten calendar until one day, he’s freed from his desk. Well, sort of. Oz is being sent on a new mission on Earth. His job is to accompany and learn from Bard, a Reaper, as he bears away souls of the newly dead. Sounds easy enough.
However, soon enough a mission-gone-wrong puts Oz face-to-face with someone he never thought he’d see again and forces him to confront the ghosts of his less-than-clean past. Armed with a tenuous understanding of the Underworld, Oz has to overcome his own cowardice to free a soul he unwittingly condemned.
I enjoyed the author’s snappy, witty writing style, and her characters were flawed and life-like, but still made me want to root for them. Bard especially won my admiration and I was intrigued by the tiny glimpses of back story we saw. Oz himself made a compelling, if unlikely hero. His friendship with Jamie was sweet and I enjoyed his attempts at romance with Cora, who seems as though she had a marvelous back story. While Oz wasn’t always perfectly likeable, I was drawn into this world and wanted to see his journey through to the end–a testament to Monroe’s engaging style.
I also enjoyed the author’s unique take on the afterlife and her skillful blending of several layers of mythology to create another world that seems real enough to border our own. I’d be interested in reading future books where Monroe explores these concepts in more depth. I’d be especially interested in reading more about Bard and Cora.
Overall, this was a fun read that I breezed through in a weekend. If you’re looking for urban fantasy with a snarky twist and sparkling prose, you’ve met your match.