Sunday, February 10, 2013

Book Review: Death Watch by Ari Berk

Cover of Death Watch by Ari Berk

First line: “He should have gone home. It was after eleven, so he’d have been home already.”

About: When Silas Umber’s father Amos doesn’t come home one night, Silas refuses to accept that he’s gone. But without money, he and his mother must abandon their home in Saltsbridge and return to Lichport, the town where Silas was born and where Amos worked. As he roams the town, he slowly uncovers the truth about his father’s work: his father was an Undertaker, responsible for tending to the dead. Now the townsfolk call on Silas to take up his father’s mantle and Silas must navigate between his new duties, the dangers of Lichport, and his search for his father.

My Thoughts: Death Watch is heavily invested in the folklore that surrounds death, but unlike most “gothic” novels, the dead aren’t horrifying, nor are they sexy vampires. The pacing is slow and the town itself is developed as a character. Because of the way that Berk follows multiple different story threads, though, the book doesn’t drag and Berk is a sufficiently deft storyteller that the different elements don’t become confusing.

Highlights:  Dark, rich, slow

Readalikes: Mistle Child, the second book of the trilogy. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. The internet recommends Darkside by Tom Becker but you can’t have it because I now have it reserved. (I’ll get back to you all on that one.)

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