Ok, something is obviously wrong with me. I feel like I’m reading darker and darker books as time progresses – could I be a closet masochist or something? Hmmm… Nah, I believe I’m perfectly fine and nothing has changed my preferences to scarier reads! (I think…)
Edmund is a young mage, who, at the tender age of ten, can understand nature and bend the elements to his will – or, to put it more correctly, he is in perfect sync with them, they usually do as he requests. But what is a boy to do when he finds his hometown partly destroyed and his people dead or missing? Even his powers seem useless, as he, too, ends up dying at the hands of the man who betrayed Orenda to the humans. And yet, death doesn’t look that much of an obstacle, as he soon comes to find out. Now reborn as Alexander, an orphan at a Catholic orphanage, Edmund must try to blend in and exist in a life that feels foreign and familiar at the same time – people tell him about who he’s been up to this point, while his memories tell a different story, one of alfalfa fields and forests and magic users. Moreover, demons who had once hunted his kind are after him, with the traitor as their leader – and it will take much more than sharp wit and strong magic for Edmund to avoid them and keep his new friends safe.
Now, then… This all sounds like a fictional story with magic, and demons, and the likes, right? Ha! Try again! While it does have all those things, it has many more to give to those readers who dare get a little more scared and freaked out than usual in order to read a good book that will give them the thrill of their life – or, well, scare, but who cares? Hey, no one said the life of a reader is easy, ok? Sometimes, when we know the book we’re holding is a masterpiece, we have to make some sacrifices – I shall never regret the sleep I lost or the nightmares, Death of the Body was absolutely worth it all!
Rick Chiantaretto is a master wordsmith. I don’t know why everyone’s not raving about him, or this book, yet. The man is… I don’t even know if an adjective exists to properly describe him. I guess you could call him somewhat of a poetic butcher. He has a way of making you cry with his writing, but he does so while bringing death to his story – more and more as it goes on, and, let me tell you, I was either sobbing (we’re talking the “curl in a ball and choke from the hysteria” sobs) or freaking out (I now have a blanket permanently and strategically placed on the back of my chair, so that I can hide under it if I get too scared). Also, I think I woke up my parents a time or two because I screamed. Oh, and did I mention the nighmares? Yeah, it was horrible, I had to beg my 12-year-old brother – who, by the way, had already finished the book long before I did (particulary in a single sitting) and didn’t find it scary at all – to let me sleep with him!
And he made me cry! A lot! Yes, I know I said that before, but it’s different when you cry about characters. I cried over a tree. A freaking tree! And then a dog! Oh, and let’s not forget that poor spoon! Believe me, when I say he’s good, then I mean it – he’s damn good!
Not only was he so awesome in coaxing the words to work in his favor, though, he also had a variety of the most amazing characters. Edmund was fully 3D, well-thought, and believable. And any kind of character he came to meet – be it friend, ally, or simple bystander – followed the same pattern of depth. It didn’t matter if there was just another orphan at the orphanage, a mere potted plant, or even the wind – Mr. Chiantaretto gave each of them a voice of their own, an existence that didn’t just serve the purpose of helping the story progress from plot point A to plot point B. (on a completely selfishly added point, I adored Nicholas! why do I always love the best friend, shall remain one of the mysteries of life…)
A while ago, I heard the book got banned – which of course, at that time, seemed logical to me. I thought it was offensive, or talked about things that more religious people might find heretic. And while I do understand there are books like that and I generally avoid them, I have to inform you that this is not such a book. Yes, it did give a different perspective on death, and being reborn, and demons – even people like Moses or Jesus – but one has to remember that it’s fiction. The info – which the writer seems to have studied thoroughly – is only twisted enough to suit the needs of the story, not to tell you that it’s something you should take as seriously as the Bible itself. You choose what to believe – and frankly, if you really think your beliefs are in danger because someone said so in a fantasy book, or if you think that they’re solid because someone again said so in a religion-themed book, then you really need to grow up. I for one found the way Chiantaretto used several religions entertaining, amusing, and not offensive at all – and I teach in Sunday School, so that should prove that reading this perfect, breathtaking story doesn’t make one question their beliefs.
Take this for example. Edmund seems to enjoy being sarcastic or irritating to religious people. And yet, there is a particular line of his that sums up his reasons for this pretty accurately – as well as shows that he’s not trying to belittle anyone’s faith.
“I don’t mind religious people, it’s the hypocrites I can’t stand.”
This is enough proof – see? he did it again, one line and he explains much more than others do through pages and flashbacks! – that he doesn’t mean to make fun of all this, but to make sure his readers have a good time by going through Edmund’s witty remarks to said hypocrites.
This is one book that you definitely need to read. It made me laugh with Nicholas’s innuendos, cry with Edmund’s tragic experiences, and bite my nails till they bled from the agony of it all. And while it is a lot scarier than what I’m used to – scarier than Netherworld, even, and that thing had me creeped at the mere sound of my own voice – I don’t think, had I been able to own a time machine and go back in time, that I would have done anything else but re-open the book and read it all over again.
***I was given a review copy from a LibraryThing Member Giveaway in exchange for an honest review. The opinion stated in this review is solely mine, and no compensation was given or taken to alter it.***