Dead Heads | Book Review

Dry procedural humor, imaginative setting, and a strong voice make this a hilarious and intriguing comedy horror.

Cover of Deed Heads by R. Young with a caricature of the grim reaper on a yellow and blue background

Dead Heads was quite the adventure through the afterlife. Neither heaven nor hell, not the good place nor the bad place, Gloomwood is instead an inbetween place dreamed up by the Grim Reaper himself.

Functioning alcoholic Detective Blunt is rushed through the afterlife queue when he dies. He might not be the best, but he’s the best they could get – the only objective opinion with no stakes in this land of the dead. That also means that he’s not got a clear picture of how the former gods and lost hopes all work with the normies, aka humans.

An organized group of criminals is incapacitating key figures, but the end goal is unclear. Detective Blunt, with a motley crew of dead compatriots must save the realm, for with this mystery this entire land of the dead hangs in the balance.

Silhouette of the grim reaper standing in the distance inside a stone tunnel.

Characters

Augustan Blunt was so well-developed that it surprised me at times for a comedy. The character was flawed, but relatable. He was understandable and easy for me to sympathize with. His backstory was woven in well without info-dumps, and it gave just enough intrigue for me to want to know more.

Grayscale picture of a male detective in the shadows wearing a hat and coat.

Constable Jeremiah John Jacob Johnson – This underdog police officer receives a mysterious message and tries his best to get to the bottom of it. In a very cinematic style, we see him deal with someone who struggles with drug addiction with kindness. He and his significant other have a complex relationship, which was also something I didn’t expect for such a funny book but was delightfully surprised by. The character was also rather funny.

Sarah Von Fabre – Forensic scientist extraordinaire, this character performed an experiment that left her an observer unable to interact fully with other people, and she was treated like an exhibit. That was, until Blunt came along. His need for her expertise brings her back into focus, and gives her a new lease on her second life. She has her own flaws and is an interesting character in her own right.

Miss Leighton Hughes, reporter extraordinaire- I loved this character. She was hilarious. Her first article in the book had me laugh out loud. I read the passage to my husband, who was quite confused out of context.I feel like I’ve known people like this character. She was very driven and made the best of what she could work with, which I find admirable.

Setting

For an intentionally monochrome world, there was vibrance.

Grand ballroom with elaborate architecture—a chandelier, a coffered ceilings with embellishments, expansive windows, a shiny floor.

From a gala party to an MC Escher-esque building to a skeevy drug house, the settings were clear in my mind and well developed.

Emotional Payout

At times, this story touched me and made me say Awwww. At other times, I chuckled. I found myself aching with sadness at some of the backstory, and rooting for the good guys.

Black and white of a dismal alley.

This story was clever, engaging, and told in a brisk story-telling manner. With multiple points of view, it managed to keep me asking questions and wanting to know more without spoon feeding information to me, or boring me.

The ending felt apropos and wrapped things up neatly while still making me curious for the next.

I highly recommend this adult dark comedy, Dead Heads, available on Amazon.

Lamp post on a foggy street in grayscale.

The author also writes a comic – Beezy & Grim, following, you guessed it, Beelzebub and the Grim Reaper. I look forward to reading the next book in this series, Get Ted Dead.

Also, Ross Young is a lovely, hilarious person, and you should definitely follow him on Twitter.

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