Hello bookworm, come in, come in. I feel like one of the dragons today, seeing clouds of steam on the cold air as I breathe. I have a hot cup of tea and some freshly toasted crumpets all ready for you to help you warm up. Here come the cats to snuggle on our laps like furry hot water bottles. Just watch the ginger one, he’s partial to a crumpet if he can steal one. This freezing weather reminds me of a scene in a book I read recently called The Sadeiest. It’s by Austrian Spencer, have you heard of it? Let me tell you all about it.
First, here’s the blurb: Is today a good day to die?
Death – a walking skeleton armed with a scythe, a rider of the apocalypse, it has always been assumed – is a man that brings the souls of the dead to wherever they are destined to go. But what if we got that wrong? What if he were a ghost that, instead of moving your soul on silently after you had died, actually did the hard part for you?
Death has to die, again and again, to pay for his sins, and to free trapped souls before their bodies perish – only to replace those souls, to die for them. A Death whose existence is a curse, where the other riders of the Apocalypse are not his allies, but his enemies.
Armed only with his morals, his memories and the advice of a child teacher, Williams, a Sadeiest, travels through the deaths of other people, on his way to becoming something greater. Something that will re-define the Grim Reaper.
Death just came to life, in time to fight for a child hunted by the other horsemen of the Apocalypse.
How do you want to die today?
Here’s a little by the author: Austrian had an unfortunate trauma aged eight, when a truck drove over him and his ‘Grifter’ bike. This made him bedridden and a captive of books for too many years. The habit persisted throughout his life (reading books, not staying in bed), to the extent that his daughter’s first painting was of him holding a book, rather than her hand. He has the picture framed in the upstairs toilet, to look at whilst feeling vulnerable.
He is the ‘glass-half-full’, an eternal optimist and believes passionately in you. You are doing exactly what you need to be doing at this moment in your life. He often thinks this, while staring at his daughter’s first painting.
Austrian does not watch horror films, though enjoys horror books. His influences include Alan Moore, Dave Sim, Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller, The family King, Iain M.Banks, from whom he wishes to learn. Be inspired.
He owes them everything, despite their beards. The Sadeiest is Austrian’s debut novel
And here’s my review: In his foreword, the author explains that his book is “written as a puzzle” and that the reader is not expected to feel “grounded.” I’m glad I read that, or I may have thought I had sniffed one too many scented candles of late and overwhelmed my senses. The experience was like no other and at the end of it, I felt rather awestruck and possibly a little travel sick from all the hops through characters, timelines, deaths and deaths to come.
The story timeline is best likened to Christmas tree lights which you have to unravel. At first, no matter how carefully you try and unpick them from their tangle, it’s just a mass of confusion but gradually you manage to untangle a section or two. Feeling more confident, you perhaps go a little quicker, only to have to slow down, return to the previous straightened section and approach the tangle again. Bit by bit, you understand which section of lights goes where until finally, with a huge sense of achievement, you sit back and see the Christmas tree lights laid out in front of you. That’s how I felt whilst reading The Sadeiest.
At times I was utterly confused as to where Williams and Heinrich came fit in to everyone else’s lives, not to mention tiny Pez or John. But I think, I think, I figured it out by the end. And when I did, I marvelled at how the author kept me in a state of confusion until that Christmas light bulb moment of discovery.
The concept of death dying a thousand deaths rather than leading a soul to where it is supposed to go is one I’ve never encountered before and looking back, it definitely added to the mind-bending feeling of the story. One word keeps popping into my mind as I’m trying to put my thoughts into words: genius.
The writing is graphic and not for the faint of heart at times. It’s also darkly humorous and tinged with sadness. One of my favourite small but extremely important ‘characters’ was the darkness which appears at Williams’ feet and has a mind of its own. There are all kinds of these clever touches which appear randomly throughout the novel and, in a still slightly nauseous way, I’m looking forward to reading the next instalment. I may just need to have some travel sickness tablets first… 4.5 stars from me.
If you like the sound of this, just click the book image above to go to the relevant page on Amazon. I don’t get anything for doing this, I’m just being a helpful bookworm.
I feel a little like when I get out of a lift and the ground is still moving beneath me having read The Sadeiest and it’s definitely an experience I’ll remember. I’d probably better go and check on it as it’s filed amongst the fantasy book shelves for want of a better home, and it sounds like it’s drawing quite a lot of attention from the other genres who don’t quite know what to make of it. If I leave them too long, they might completely forget their manners and start to poke at it… Until we meet again, bookworm!