An interesting spin on the Grim Reaper!
When an author takes a well-known trope and adds creative elements to make the character her own, a reader can be in for a real treat. That’s what author Rachel Stanley did with her first-in-series, “A Grim Affair.” (Link to the book on Amazon.)
Although the protagonist in “A Grim Affair” is veterinary assistant Emma, the Keeper of Souls (the Grim Reaper) steals the show. Blake’s storyline kept me reading. I wanted to know more: the why, how, and what next questions sat in the forefront of my brain as I read. The author made a great choice in letting us “see inside” Blake’s head even though this was primarily Emma’s story.
Stanley also mastered the balance of Blake’s detachment with his work and the reader’s desire to see him care. This was a risky approach, but the author pulled it off. Instead of being frustrated with his disinterest, the reader is willing to watch the layers peel back as Blake examines his own existence AND allows his curiosity to be revived as he gets to “feel the world” through Emma.
Another thread the author wove into “A Grim Affair” is Seith, the nonmaterial large dog seen only by Blake. This “being” is silent to the reader, although Blake converses with the dog about the situation he is pulled into (literally) with Emma. We’re allowed to infer some of Seith’s thoughts through Blake’s half of the conversation and his musings. While we never learn the story behind Seith’s existence, the reader could begin to draw lines between Seith and sayeth. This being only “says” things to Blake. While I read the interaction between the two, I wondered, is Seith divine? From this book we don’t know, but the author does allow us to enjoy a flash of Seith becoming flesh at a critical moment. I hope the author provides more insight to Seith into book two of this series!
Although this author’s work sits squarely in the Romance genre (one I admit I don’t typically seek out), Stanley could easily take a step into the cozy mystery arena. “A Grim Affair” even comes close in this reader’s opinion. I’d like to see her make the move!