Today’s Reaper Thing: “Grimmie,” a Novel by Linda S. Cowden

There are hundreds of films and plenty of books with the Grim Reaper as a character, but how many of them are about the Reaper himself (and how many get him right?)

Consider the plight of Corwin Grimm, known to some as a philosophizing street saxophonist who collects eclectic friends from society’s outcasts. The truth is far more sinister, that “Corwin” is merely the favorite face secretly worn by Death himself, the Grim Reaper. With the power to manipulate matter on a minute level and tasked with harvesting the souls of all humanity, you might think the busiest Angel residing outside of the Divine Presence would have better things to do than lurk in the shadows playing haunting melodies and befriend interesting mortals. From a single, seemingly insignificant event that taints him with a sliver of humanity, Death is freed to explore his own nature and the nature of being human, but what prevents an all-powerful, free-willed Grim Reaper from doing anything he feels is necessary to protect or avenge those he perceives as being wronged? Hint: don’t get on his bad side.

Author Linda S. Cowden has created something truly unique: a life story for the Grim Reaper. It isn’t “the” life story of Death because the Reaper has no life. True, Death has a boss and follows orders like any trusted servant would, but in being tainted, he begins to care, and this creates an incredible conflict in an immortal being to which any single lifetime is but the blink of an eye. Ms. Cowden has crafted a plausible and fascinating account of what the Grim Reaper is and represents, all self-contained in a hefty story equal parts drama, thriller, and horror. In Grimmie, the Reaper is no longer a mere catalyst to some hapless human’s story but takes center stage himself, and the reader is along for the harvest.

Inspired by existing folklore of Death carrying on conversations with renowned philosophers and religious figures, the author doesn’t pull any punches with her central character’s views of the world any more than when the Reaper’s scythe at last falls. No one but the Reaper himself is above reproach (read: able to be killed off abruptly), and the concept of free will is something Death wrestles with both in others and in himself. The prose is cinematic, but the necessary size of the story and its complexity would have to be handled carefully for anyone intent on lifting it out of the written medium (perhaps only realized as a twelve-episode mini-series on HBO created by monster-sympathizer Guillermo del Toro). If you thought an amoral, irresistible force of nature that appears at the moment of every living thing’s destruction was disturbing, how much scarier is it when that entity develops the capacity to thoroughly enjoy it when you’ve got it coming?

Grimmie is available on Amazon.

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