by: Zander Marks
Just because Wilkin's a crackhead doesn't mean the shadows aren't real.
They're real. And they've been haunting him since he was seven years old. Mostly he ignores them.
But when the ghost of his childhood friend shows up at the local motel, Wilkin can't ignore the call of friendship. And when his friend's killer buys the motel so he can destroy the remains, Wilkin can't ignore that, either.
Wilkin steals his friend's skull before the killer can destroy it and is plunged into a hot mess of a supernatural thrill ride.
A death-race pursuit of a child's skull. A ghost-talking trucker hauling plush toys to Kansas. Five demonic farm-kids in a housing project. A Dodge City marshal with justice on his mind. And a graveyard full of snitches.
It's enough to make you want to hit the crackpipe. All leading to a climax where staying alive is the least of Wilkin's worries.
Because when most of the people around you are spirits anyway, DEATH AIN'T BUT A WORD.
The first sentence in the blurb above got me to agree to review this book and I was hooked by the end of the 1 ½ page prologue. I absolutely love the protagonist Wilkin and yeah, he has a drug problem, but you really empathize with him and deep down he is a good person even if he doesn’t believe it.
There is lots of action, killing, and dark humor, as well as violence, drug use, profanity, but oddly enough no sex. The writing is tight and polished and I enjoyed the unusual cadence of the prose, which is completely different from most of the stories I read and I was surprised at the turn of events in the book. It starts out being about a junkie who can see ghosts and tries to ignore this fact until he runs into a childhood friend who disappeared when they were seven. Wilkin ends up having to run for his life when the killer realizes his secret is out. This isn't a “who-dun-it” mystery, because you know pretty much right from the start who the killer is. This story is more about Wilkin accepting who he is and using it to help others. Unfortunately for Wilkin, he never got the training he needed and doesn't understand the rules and sometimes the dead, even when they were your friend, don’t play nice.
There are a few places where the story drags; one chapter in particular is one big description of what it is like to be high and while there is a reason for the scene it didn't have to be so long. The story is told from many POVs, but mostly Wilkin’s which I preferred. There is also a noticeable change in the tone of the story about 1/3 of the way through. It went from something Tom Robbins/Terry Pratchett –ish to something more like a traditional urban fantasy. Wilkin’s character and the story lost some of its quirkiness, but it was still a fascinating and original take on the ghost world.
If you like your stories dark edged and unusual characters then give this one a try.
Ganesh was rooting for Wilkin, and it scared the hell out of him. Because when a Hindu god feels the need to offer you strength and compassion, you know the shit’s about to get real.
On Wednesday, the shit got real.
”And don’t piss on my leg and tell me it be raining, cause you coulda stopped it. You let it happen. You knew all along, and you were wrong for that. So F*** you and don’t hand me no light saber and play some bitch-ass Yoda. I AIN’T HAVING IT!”
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Print copy of Death Ain't But a Word
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