Killing the Reapers by Jeff Debing

Killing the Reapers by Jeff Debing
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Paranormal, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Ross is a young paramedic whose world takes a sudden tragic turn on what should be the best day of his life. Just before he can propose to his girlfriend, he suffers a massive heart attack and dies.

He awakens in the afterlife and learns that the Grim Reaper actually does exist. But not as the skeletal creature of mythology, instead it’s an organization of non-living individuals who look and act like ordinary people. Essentially undead civil servants, they walk among the living, unnoticed, as they perform their grim work of reaping the souls of people when they are destined to die.

He is shocked to learn that he died decades before he was supposed to, due to a tragic mishap. As Ross and the reapers seek a solution for his premature demise, fatal accidents suddenly begin to plague the reapers. Ross discovers that though the reapers aren’t truly alive, they can be killed.

When the growing number of mysterious reaper fatalities prevents Ross from getting his life back, he suspects they may not actually be accidents. He realizes that to have any chance to return to the life he was destined to live, he’ll first have to discover and stop whatever is killing the reapers.

Death isn’t the end.

The world building was complex and well done. I actually paused at one point to do an Internet search to find out if I’d accidentally stumbled into the middle of a series. The fact that it appeared to be something new and not connected to any other stories only impressed me even more. There were so many little details about the characters, setting, and unique rules of magic woven into every scene that I truly felt as if I’d stepped into another world. It was exciting to have this introduction, and it made me hope for a sequel.

There was only one thing holding this tale back from a much higher rating, and it had to do with how the characters were written. Mr. Debing introduced the audience to a large number of characters quite quickly in the early scenes. When combined with how little information we were given about the appearances or personalities of the majority of them, I had a lot of trouble remembering who was who. This was especially true when it came to the various grim reapers, although I would also struggle to describe Ross’ personality to anyone. Other than his love of his work and his desire to save every sick and injured person who crossed his path, I never got a strong sense of who he was as an individual.

I was pleased with how the mystery portion of the plot was written. The author did a good job of throwing a few clues out there for the audience without giving away so much information that it was easy to figure out the identity and motive of the killer. He struck a nice balance between developing this portion of the storyline and allowing the fantasy themes to take precedence when needed.

Killing the Reapers was a fast-paced novella that I’d recommend to anyone who loves urban fantasy.

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