Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Starving artist Riley Burke refuses to be dependent on his rich older boyfriend—hence his second job as a nude model at the local art school. When the famous artist Coliaro requests him for a private modeling session, he jumps at the chance to earn some real cash.
But then Westwood, a mysterious stranger, warns him to steer clear—it’s said Coliaro is undead. That his worshippers perform rituals to fill him with life energy. That every time he paints a male nude, the painting transforms to depict a gruesome murder. And that shortly after, a young man turns up dead.
Riley dismisses the rumors—until they start to play out before his eyes. When he becomes a target, Westwood comes to his aid. But Westwood is secretive and dangerous himself… which just makes him more attractive to Riley. Riley is in over his head, and even his tenuous alliance with Westwood might not save him.
Art of Death is the first book in a new series. The blurb made it sound like a rather unique story and I certainly haven’t read anything like it before, but it still failed to wow me.
First of all, you should know that Riley’s dealing with mental health issues, namely depression. He could also use a therapist, but can’t afford one and doesn’t want to tell his boyfriend about his “angst”. There’s also talk of homophobic parents and the suicide of a family member. And, well, the murders are gruesome, but they don’t actually happen on-page. So beware if any of this triggers you.
This isn’t much of a romance. Riley is in a failing relationship with his rich boyfriend. He has some serious trust issues and can’t bring himself to open up about his troubles. And then there’s this very attractive, if somewhat dangerous and scary, stranger that Riley just can’t stop thinking about. Personally, I enjoyed that. I just wish there’d been a bit more of an explanation why things in the bedroom didn’t work out for Riley and Nick. It seemed like a big issue on Riley’s part, but we never get a reason.
Riley’s lack of curiosity kind of baffled me. The first thing I’d want to know if I met an undead, immortal person, is how it all works. Are you born that way? Do you need to die under specific circumstances to come back to life? And so on. Because these undead aren’t zombies, they’re more like normal people, who just can’t die. And some of them have a serious lack of morals.
The plot itself had a few holes in it. Dead bodies turn up around Riley and yet there’s very little police involved. It’s just mentioned in passing that they showed up at the crime scene, but there’s zero follow-up.
Riley is a starving free-lance artist and yet we never see him do any actual work. There’s the occasional mention of a new job designing this or that, but nothing about Riley actually working on that job. I think it would have added a little more depth to the story, which seemed a bit flat overall.
This book has less than 300 pages, which isn’t a lot. Yet it took me a surprisingly long time to finish. I guess I just wasn’t that motivated. It wasn’t boring or bad or anything, it just didn’t wow me and it couldn’t hold my interest for any length of time.
All in all, “Art of Death” is an okay book. The idea behind it is fairly unique, but the execution was a little bit lacking to me. I’m not sure yet if I want to actually read the next book in the series. I guess I’ll make that decision when it comes out.
The cover by Bob Appavu is okay. I think a bit more connection to the plot would have been nice. As it is, it’s a little bit average.
Sale Links: Amazon
Kindle Edition, 271 pages
Published September 3rd 2019 by DSP Publications