Terrifying, hilarious, and totally addictive! One of my favorite books this year.
As a young child, Casey’s family moved to Arizona. It was there beneath the fiery gaze of the Southwestern sun, that he spent most of his life. Graduating school, marrying the love of his life, and having two wild kids. It was also there that C.S. Fritz’s work began to take traction with local galleries and art publications. Most currently, Casey has worked with several publishing houses and editorials such as…Christianity Today, David C. Cook, Tyndale, and Navpress. A Fig For All the Devils is his debut novel.
A dark and original story about a thirteen year old boy with nothing to lose, who decides to trade places with the Grim Reaper.
There are so many things I love about this book. The nod to Stephen King when Sonny pulled on his favorite Pet Semetary t-shirt, the haphazard chapter headings, immersive world, and contrast of characters.
My favorite character, without a doubt, is the Grim Reaper. Through the eyes of the thirteen-year-old protagonist, the description of the entity is terrifying. Specifically, during their very first encounter in the woods while Sonny is mushroom picking. However, once the reaper makes a proper introduction, the tone shifts from horror to humor as his individual traits reveal the quirky personality under the dark hooded cloak. With an addiction to junk food, cigarettes, and poetry, he is far from the traditional ‘bringer of death’ depicted in modern folklore. The story kept me guessing right from the first page, and the prologue was especially disturbing and perfectly placed to set up the rest of the book a thousand years later.
There usually are one, maybe two scenes in a book I’ll remember long after finishing. But I loved so many in this one that it’s difficult to choose. My favorite scene by far is the first time the reaper is introduced and the book’s tone completely shifts once he appears to possess more human qualities. He is the most likable character in the book (in my opinion). All of the scenes in which Sonny must perform a ‘task’ to become the reaper are incredibly original and descriptive, but of the three he must face, it’s the last one I find the most satisfying. He must inhale the death rattle… Another clever scene near the beginning of the book introduces the pastor, whom Sonny befriends and eventually helps to process his own grieving process. It sees him deliver a speech to his congregation, the first time Sonny attends, mentioning that our life paths are not always what we expect them to be.
For readers who enjoy dark humor, immersive worlds, and disturbing subject matter. Those who liked Tender Is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica and/or This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno will enjoy this book.
Published October 31st, 2021
An abused, grief-stricken, and impoverished Sonny has all but given up on life. That is, until he meets death, by way of the Grim Reaper. The Reaper, a junk food-loving, poetry-reading, cigarette-addicted entity, has no time to waste as he searches for a suitable successor who would become “Death” for the next millennium. By training the boy in the ways of death and dying, Reaper grooms his young apprentice and through suspenseful and horror-laced events, he unknowingly gives Sonny something he never intended: Something to live for.