Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Book Review: The New Death and Others

by: James Hutchings

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Review originally posted on Pagan Culture

Death gets a roommate...

An electronic Pope faces a difficult theological question...

A wicked vizier makes a terrible bargain...

44 stories. 19 poems. No sparkly vampires. There's a thin line between genius and insanity, and James Hutchings has just crossed it - but from which direction?

When Magaly asked me to review this, I wasn't sure how I would fit it in. The very first story had me hooked and I readily agreed. I highlighted so many quotes in this that made me gave me pause or made me chuckle…some did both. There was an underlying heaviness to every poem or story. Some subtle and others not so much making commentary on our current state of affairs in this society and the political system we currently support.

I especially loved the fast moving tales that took the tone of an ancient myth. Take the first tale where he tells the story of how the gods met to decide who took care of the different people and animals, and when it came time to decide on the poor...
There was a long pause. The gods shuffled their feet and avoided one another’s gaze. At last a voice broke the silence. “I will,” said Death.
I can’t possibly use all the passages that I highlighted. In Everlasting Fire, the author makes light of his use of puns…even saying he doesn’t do that anymore. But there follows plenty of stories where he goes hog-wild with them. He also has a thing for mimes. Mr. Hutchings is unafraid to use big words. And more than once I was happy my Nook has a built in dictionary. “Thaumaturge” was used a few times…and I had to look it up for each use.

I was a quarter of the way in before I realized this wasn’t a multiple author work. Bravo! The words danced through the pages. The humor was light and everything was fairly easy to take whilst being simultaneously intense. Nothing very gross or terrifying. But there were more than a few times where a story made me gasp in surprise at the ending or the terror and tragedy within the tale. Here’s a quote from a poem that left me weeping for the unloved child the narrator is.
I ate your food and slept beneath your roof, that’s normal for a child.
The joking-but-not-joking way you said you couldn’t wait until I turned eighteen so you could pack my bags and then give me a bill has worn my gratitude away…
But then he gets light again with a tale of cats attempting world domination:
There was a great anger against cats. But then the cats did a cute look and mewed pathetically, so everyone forgave them.
My favorite tale (mentioned earlier) is Everlasting Fire. It takes place in Hell where Lilly is a demon whose job is to set up ironic punishments for the dead. He made up 2 new deadly sins, using puns and saying “LOL” aloud. I shake in terror at her punishment for critics…forced to review books from “The Library That Contains Nothing But Fan-Fiction.” I better start being a good girl. LOL – it’s typed, not a sin.


  1. Okay, I hate to admit this but I got this book (last year) on Magaly's recommendation and am just embarrassed to admit I never read it. I came across it the other day and told myself that this fall it needed to be read! Having read your review, I will do so without fail. Have a beautiful week, Angie.

    1. Well, I'm glad. Wait until you meet a few special cats... and don't feel bad, I have a book or two from last year and I haven't read them either *sigh*


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