Claudio Chigwell has the worst day of his life when he goes and dies on his way to a job interview. It’s only thanks to the sympathy a surprisingly loquacious and personable Grim Reaper shows him that he’s able to keep on living. But that’s against the rules of the Dead Council. so soon Claude and his new best dead pal Gee find themselves on the run for their very lives… and afterlives.
As that summary may suggest, The Not-So-Grim Reaper, the debut novel from South African author Sergio Pereira, is a broad, brazen comedy. Despite its potentially dark subject matter, it’s not even blackly comic but more of a farcical buddy cop tale in which our dysfunctional heroes face otherworldy threats, adorable hell-chihuahuas and the horrors of the eternal Macarena.
Pereira has a strong authorial voice as the novel is written with a pally, colloquial narrative style which gives it the feeling of being told a 200-page joke by a friend. You could say that the book mostly lacks a real sense of peril and drama because of this, but that feels churlish considering that it succeeds in its aim to produce a chuckle on every page.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the novel is picking up on the various inspirations. Obviously the supernatural shenanigans that spur the plot owe something to Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, the highly bureaucratic depiction of the afterlife must be a loving homage to Beetlejuice, and the narration is filled with various similes and references to famous movies and pop culture.
This weird hodge-podge of influences comes together to form a quirky cocktail that’s probably best described as what A Matter of Life and Death would be like if it was penned by the screenwriters of Deadpool. If you’re after a searing look at the human condition, look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a good-natured, big-hearted, belly-laughing read to make your day a little less grim, then give The Not-So-Grim Reaper a go.
THE NOT-SO-GRIM REAPER / AUTHOR: SERGIO PEREIRA / PUBLISHER: SERGIO PEREIRA / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW