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The Company of Death (The Immortal Journey #1) by Elisa Hansen Book Review

Write on: Mon, 03 Jun 2019 by  in Charles' Reviews Be the first to comment! Read 1584

THE COMPANY OF DEATH is by Elisa Hansen, one of the authors of the Twilight parody Awoken (where a young teenage girl falls in love with Cthulhu). She is also a well-loved web reviewer of vampire fiction under the stage name the Maven of the Eventide. Her persona there is a perky Goth who fangirls over vampire fiction while also giving incisive commentary on the feminist, racial, sociological, or even environmental subtext of things like Daybreakers or Kindred: The Embraced.

The Company of Death surprised me as I was fooled by her persona to an extent and expected something a bit more Gothic Horror rather than full-on zombie apocalypse. It's not a straight horror novel but an interesting combination of horror, science fiction, and urban fantasy. It is a story that strangely reminds me of Good Omens combined with The Walking Dead.

The premise is the world has been overrun by zombies but that's not the only problem. The world is also afflicted with vampirism. The intelligent undead have gathered large number of survivors into communes where they're kept safe from the zombies in exchange for their blood. There is a third faction, an ostensibly "good" faction in the Life Preservation Initiative. It is an alliance of human scientists, soldiers, and survivors that attempt to liberate commune while working on a "cure" for zombie-ism in Manhattan.

The protagonist is Emily, a sprightly young woman who successfully escaped with her mother to join the LPI. She lost her mother along the way and it has left a profound disgust and hatred for vampire feeding on her. This is a problem when they want her to infiltrate a commune by serving as a vampire snack. Emily refuses and ends up going on a much more dangerous mission to avoid losing her "purity." How does it end? Well, it results in her meeting the anthropomorphic embodiment of Death.

I really enjoyed Emily as a character and her relationship with Death. As mentioned, it's a bit like Good Omens or Terry Pratchett's Discworld in that the embodiments of reality are quirky living characters. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse make an appearance in the book as does Time. However, the real heart of the book, for me, is the world-building as well as character interactions with the mortal (as well as undead).

The vampires in this book are not remotely romantic and are depicted as horrifyingly disgusting predators who keep their humans in filthy hovels. Even the most powerful and characterized one is treated as a monster rather than a sexy romantic foil. Even so, I felt like the Life Preservation Initiative seemed like it was unintentionally unsympathetic by targeting the communes. Don't they have bigger problems right now?

Interestingly, the end of the world didn't seem to occur during "our" present and seems to have happened decades or even a century into the future. There's fully functional and sentient androids (or gynoids) in the setting. One of them is even a major character in the book. This science fiction element adds another interesting layer to the world-building. I also give props to Elisa Hansen for creating a self-identified asexual protagonist, which is not something you ever see in fiction.

The Company of Death is a strange and fascinating little book that doesn't go for horrific desperation but a kind of dark fantasy macabre quirkiness (not a sentence I ever thought I'd use). The situation is terrible and never played for comedy but when you have a party consisting of a god, an intelligent zombie, a robot, a human, and vampire--it never quite feels horrifying either. I like the characters and am interested in seeing where the story goes next. This is clearly at least a trilogy's worth of plot that doesn't get resolved at the end.

9/10

Available here

Last modified on Thursday, 20 June 2019 20:12
C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.

Website: https://ctphipps.wordpress.com/

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