When Laura Ellen Scott emailed me about Death Wishing, she mentioned she’d gotten my name from Steve Himmer, author of The Bee Loud Glade, which, as many of you know, I adored. How could I resist that connection?
About the Book:
There’s no denying the world is getting strange. An odd phenomenon has sprung up: if people voice a wish just before they die, that wish might come true. So far, this “death wishing” has eliminated cancer and done away with housecats, among other things. Some people are terrified, some see in it a sign, and others are busy concocting schemes to gain from the situation — some harmless, but others not.
In the middle of all this, Victor Swaim is trying to just exist. He moved to New Orleans to recover from his divorce and is happy enough staffing his son’s vintage clothing shop, dabbling in cape and corset design, and trying half-heartedly to win over his young and lovely neighbor, Pebbles. But Victor cannot avoid becoming tangled up in the strangeness, especially when its darker side gets a little too close to home.
(A note on the cover: Each element becomes explained as you read the novel, which I loved!)
This premise of certain people being able to change the world with a death-bed wish strikes me as something Jose Saramago would undertake: a bizarre situation, just a twist on our own reality (a plague of blindness, perhaps, or the sudden cessation of death), the effect of which the novel then explores. I love those sorts of books and so was thrilled to discover Death Wishing was one such story. Of course, Saramago and Scott go about the fleshing out of their tales very differently!
Victor is an extremely distinctive and enjoyable narrator with a great, unique voice. He comes alive through Scott’s writing, a complex mixture of goodness and hopelessness and humor that makes him the sort of person you could imagine having a beer with. The book’s other characters come to life through Victor’s eyes, populating the novel with very diverse and realistic people. Scott is masterful in her treatment of interpersonal relationships, deftly capturing tensions, emotions, and dynamics with words.
Scott has a delightful way with language. Victor’s narration is snappy and precise, the dialogue smart but totally believable. There were moments I found myself grinning over a particular phrase, and more than once I backtracked just to reread a sentence I’d especially enjoyed. The book’s subject is rather serious, yet without lightening her subject matter, Scott infuses the novel with bits of humor, woven into Victor’s own personal way of seeing the world. I enjoyed her writing immensely.
Scott did a fantastic job of evoking a weird, almost unreal atmosphere in her New Orleans, which served well as a backdrop for a story both inventive and intriguing. I have never been to New Orleans, but Scott made it come alive for me, a skill I appreciate. Some books create a very distinct mental picture for me, and Death Wishing did that well. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this one!
Has this review piqued your interest? Lucky you — you have a chance to win a copy of your own!
Giveaway: Win a copy of Death Wishing by Laura Ellen Scott!
The giveaway is now closed. Thanks to all who entered, and congratulations to the winners!