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Rating: 3.5 stars
Darion Muerte is a Reaper, one of many, and has been one for centuries. He gathers the souls of the dying so they can move on, hunting for them each night with his Shadow, a creature made from his essence. One night as he follows his Shadow tracking the next person he is to visit, he is astonished to see that their target can see not only his Shadow but Darion himself. The people whose souls he gathers never see the Reapers who come for them but this one can.
His target’s name is Kale. Not only can Kale see him but Kale isn’t sick, isn’t dying, and above all isn’t afraid of him. So why did his Shadow lead him straight to Kale? In a flash of need, Kale and Darion have a sexual encounter that leaves them both gasping and wanting more. Kale feels that he has been waiting for Darion his entire life. Darion is experiencing the same unfathomable feelings for Kale. But at the end of the night, his mission cannot change. It must end with Darion taking Kale’s soul.
I liked the premise of this short story. That Death has many Reapers who gather the souls of the dying to help them pass on, accompanied by a Shadow. The Shadows are an almost dog like creature created from the Reapers shadows and they help their Masters locate the next soul to take. Wolf extends his take on this by introducing Kale, a man who can see his Reaper and Shadow when no other person can. Kale is also healthy so why is a Reaper coming for him? We get a hint that this might be something Kale has been fated for all his life but that is never fully explained, so a hint of mystery hangs about the character. After a night of passionate sex (and some very hot vivid scenes), Darion is supposed to take his soul. The plot continues to gain interest amid some neat twists but then with the introduction of the Brothers Grimm and the arrival of Death itself, the story takes a turn that it never quite recovers from.
The Brothers Grimm are hunting our two protagonists until Death appears to strike a bargain. The final plot point hinges on the sacrifice Darion must make in the name of love. But the author has not finished setting up a realistic or viable reason for us to buy into this sacrifice. And the ending just doesn’t seem plausible (yes, I know this is a supernatural tale after all, but the author must make us believe the actions described and I never did). So at the end the whole story just unravels and so does the rating. Again, I suspect the author set about trying to accomplish a much larger story that just doesn’t work in a shorter length. Still there is much to like about Reaping Shadows and I look forward to the next story from Jamieson Wolf.
Cover: Staci Perkins is the cover artist for this moody spot on cover. Great job.