Rating: 4 stars out of 5
When unassuming college student Emery Sutton wakes up in the morgue, it takes him a few minutes to remember he has magic (superpowers, damn it!) and free himself from the refrigerated drawer. And the body bag. (God.) It doesn’t take long, though, for him to remember the hot guy with wings he ran into just before a city bus ran into him.
Junior Reaper John must explain to his supervisor how his first solo assignment went so wrong. All he knows is that he happened upon Emery quite by accident, that Emery saw John when he shouldn’t have been able to, and when they accidentally touched, a bus came out of nowhere and plowed Emery under. (John really does feel bad about that.)
Hot angels, annoying demons, hijinks, absurdity, drunk siblings, a dash of silly romance, an inordinate attachment to wings, and a highly disorganized bid for world domination—Don’t Fear the (Not Really Grim) Reaper follows Emery and John down the rabbit hole where they find that moms are scarier than demons from hell, a goat is not a puppy no matter what Emery’s sister says, and awkward romance can happen anywhere.
While most readers and fans are familiar with Carole Cummings from her darker fantasy or supernatural stories, there are a group of lighter, humor-filled tales that show this author’s talent for the weird turn for the farce, the fantastical bend of the funny bone. Don’t Fear the (Not Really) Grim Reaper by Carole Cummings is just such a story.
Emery Sutton is having a very bad day. He dies and wakes up, very alive in a morgue. It doesn’t really phase him considering he’s a very magical sort of person, always has been. Although this is taking it to a new level. And he’s not looking forward to explaining it to his parents.
Junior Reaper John, seemingly as young as Em, also having a very bad day. First day on the job and it goes spectacularly wrong. He delivers the first soul but wants to hang around Earth. He sort of misses it and knows his name isn’t John. Then he touches Em because he can’t help himself and poof. Guy dies..soul doesn’t appear in heaven and he’s’ in huge trouble.
Both characters are just wonderful. You can see just how young each one is in their own way. It doesn’t matter that one is an angel, the other….magical. Their actions, dialog, and reactions to everything that happens is that of young adults just barely dealing at times. Both “John” and Em have support systems to help direct them. Each happens to include a somewhat scary female/matriarchal figure. For John, it’s his supervisor. For Em, his mother. Yet both women have these young men’s best interests at heart. Along with the rest of Em’s very interesting family of sister and dad.
Told in alternating povs, the story is jammed pack full of entertaining elements that whiz narratively by. Blink and you might miss one. There’s a wild reason behind all this madness, an all too quick resolution that leaves one question unanswered. But the rest of the ride to get to this point is imaginative, the main characters and supporting cast wonderful, and the promise of a fascinating future for them both just a happy ending enough to make sense. Fun, farcical with enough of the dark thrown in to make it interesting. Characters I connected with? Definitely a Carole Cummings story. One I recommend.
Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza. This just misses the mark. Looks like a cover for Valentine’s Day not a cover for this story. The guy is way too happy, the cover too bright, no dark elements. Could be a high school cover for a dance. It looks like ten other “nerd” covers I can name.
Kindle Edition, 70 pages
Expected publication: January 11th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press