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The Reluctant Reaper by Gina X. Grant

The Reluctant Reaper

by Gina X. Grant

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Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: Kirsty d’Arc is going about her daily life when she is attacked by her stapler. This sets up a chain of events that will eventually have her winding up in Hell. Suddenly, her ordinary life (or afterlife) just got a whole lot more complicated…

Opening Sentence: The morning of my twenty-fifth birthday, I dragged myself into the office feeling hungover and half dead.

The Review:

I found myself in an odd situation with this book. I read and reviewed the second book in this series prior to realizing I was going to be reading and reviewing the first book. I really didn’t like the second book and was rather nervous about reading this one. While I did end up liking it slightly better than book 2, this series is still just not my cup of tea.

Kirsty d’Arc works for the PR firm owned by her best friend’s father, Conrad, a man who in many ways, has also been a father to Kirsty. She’s very happy with her life and is enjoying climbing up the corporate ladder. On her 25th birthday, something odd happens – her stapler attacks her, depositing a staple right into her hand. Conrad comes in to help, and in the process, her blood ends up on a piece of paper he’s holding. Later, while celebrating her birthday with some co-workers, Kirsty overhears Conrad arguing with someone in the bathroom. Becoming alarmed, she goes in to help. The man with Conrad is wearing a robe and holding what appears to be a scythe. When he swings the scythe towards Conrad, Kirsty dives in front of him, and the scythe rips her soul from her body.

Kirsty finds herself in Hell – not because she was a bad person, but because everyone winds up there in order to wait for their turn to be reincarnated. Kirsty is understandably upset and is desperate to find a way back to the Mortal Coil so she can live out the rest of her life. Will she be able to find a way back, or will she be stuck in Hell forever?

In my review of Scythe Does Matter, I mentioned my distaste for the fact that Kirsty seems incredibly self-centered. While this trait is a major part of her character in this first book (and is in fact mentioned multiple times by other characters), she proves that she obviously cares about others when she selflessly dives in front of Conrad. This made me like her a little more than I did previously.

Dante is the Reaper who accidentally takes Kirsty’s soul. Despite her anger towards him, Kirsty finds herself increasingly attracted to him. While he is in this first book more than in the second book, I still just could not warm up to him. I think a large part of this is because, while we do see a lot of him, the dialogue he and Kirsty have doesn’t really reveal much about him as a person. Any substantial relationship-building that’s done is glossed over, so it was really hard for me to connect to Dante as a character and to he and Kirsty as a couple. The same could be said of the other side characters as well; we get brief glimpses of them, but not enough to really feel a connection to them as characters.

Overall, I still feel that these books try too hard to be funny. In this book, the use of puns became very annoying to me. It only served to take me out of the plot and make me realize that I really wasn’t liking what I was reading. While I will say I like the overall idea of the plot, the execution of that idea just doesn’t end up working for me.

Notable Scene:

I squinted hard, unfocusing my eyes a little. And there he was—the object of Conrad’s attention.

Standing between Conrad and the mirror stood an attractive man who looked about thirty. I gasped and stepped back. He disappeared! I unfocused my eyes again and he popped back into view. Was this some kind of hologram? Was there an app for that now?

Conrad’s buddy wore a long black robe like a choir gown. Was he Goth? Or really into Harry Potter? I checked for eyeliner or a lightning-bolt-shaped scar, but his face appeared devoid of makeup or fan-boy tattoos.

FTC Advisory: Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster provided me with a copy of The Reluctant Reaper. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | Nov 16, 2013 |
Kirsty D’Arc is happily living her life, doing her thing when her day is spoiled by being attacked by a stapler. A stapler. As if violent office supplies weren’t enough, she then finds her boss is actually trying to sell her soul – to get an extension on his old contract

A dizzying series of terrible accidents finds Kirsty down in Hell, the afterlife. And nothing is what she expected but nor is it easy to fix such a blatant mistake. She’s down there for some time – giving her chance to learn a little about herself, her family – and how little she had done with her life but also what she actually wants

Especially concerning attractive Reaper Dante.

You can tell this book was designed to be funny and light full of quips and wit and lots of giggly moments. It doesn’t take itself seriously, it often jumps into the ridiculous and positively wallows there. Everything is a little silly, a lot zany, a lot whacky and more than a little cartoony. And I can appreciate that – some of my favourite books have been those that are just loopy and out there and make me giggle all the time. It’s especially fun when you take something as serious and dark and mournful and, well, grim as a Grim Reaper and throw all this light, silly, funny joy on top. So it had a lot of potential

And completely missed the mark for me. I don’t think I laughed once, unfortunately, I’m not even sure if I cracked a smile. The humour is contrived, it doesn’t fit even in the zaniness. It relied a lot on convoluted mental monologues while Kirsty chased her own thoughts in circles until she could force out a quip (and setting up your own funny lines doesn’t work). There is an inordinate number of puns – puns on top of puns on top of puns that just don’t work for me even slightly.

It has the odd line like: “When life had handed me lemons, I’d gone online and purchased grapefruits. Victoria’s Secret was safe with me.” That wasn’t bad. But gee-nomes that sting you and alter your DNA? Lead by the streetsmart “metrognome”. She gets angry when it’s misty so becomes “misterical”. The mist that would not be missed? I didn’t laugh – I did groan. I did look back and see if I had actually read that. Then I groaned again. And really, this is just the tip of the iceberg. It gets worse. It gets so much worse.

This is shaky ground to be on. You have a book whose prime selling point is its humour and, to me, it’s just not funny. That’s crashing and burning right there.

But, worse, humour is pretty much all the book has. The plot is really weak. She dies, she goes to Hell, she wanders around and random stuff happens. That’s about it – each random event is an excuse for some more zaniness and puns and maybe some world exploration – but there’s no actual plot. There’s a vague, background “oh I want to go back to my life” but she doesn’t actually do anything about that or about anything else. She just kind of exists. I think this is trying to set up her character as someone who has no karma – because that is exactly what she is in this setting, she has neither good karma nor bad karma (which is currency in this Hell) because she hasn’t actually lived; she never takes chances, she never does anything, she’s not an active participant in her own life. Which is an interesting thing to explore in both a character beginning to grow and over a series – but there’s nothing else in this book to provide a scaffolding around a deliberately blank protagonist.

Read More ( )
  FangsfortheFantasy | Sep 20, 2013 |
Kirsty d’Arc's life just went from bad to worse. She was just trying to save her boss and friend Conrad from some creep in a black Snuggie who threatened him with some kind of laser scythe and the next thing she knows Kirsty is having out of the body experience. They say: go toward the light, but floating through the electric lamps on the ceiling didn't help. What is Kirsty going to do? And why does it seems that the only person who can help her is the guy who 'murdered' her?

Narrated by our heroine Kirsty, story of The Reluctant Reaper quickly leaves the mortal plain and goes straight to hell, literally. We get to meet a lot of mythical characters in person, and boy the legends don't do them justice. For example nobody mentioned Char's aka. Charon's sense of fashion. If you are newbie to the mythology you might have hard time making the connections but for more experienced fantasy fans I think there will be no problems recognising the people Kirsty meets. Nothing will be as you expected. Spiced up with quirky humor and puns generously sprinkled in Kirsty's comments, Hell sure turns out to be one wacky place.

The Reluctant Reaper is mostly one big travel guide through Hell, since we follow Kirsty as she gets to know it's inhabitants and how the system works down there. Also there will be some harsh (and to me obvious) surprises revealed from Kirsty's life and how many karma points she earned.

There will be little time left for something else, although sexy grim reaper Dante who accidentally scythed Kirsty soul is never far from her mind. The attraction between them has a little bit insta-lust feel to it, I would have loved if romance progressed more slowly. But at least it was good for Kirsty:
"The Earth moved. So did Hell. And possibly some of the furniture. In fact, the sex was so good that even the neighbours had a cigarette!"

In The End...
The Reluctant Reaper is urban fantasy novel that will give a tour through wacky and original vision of hell invented by Gina X. Grant. If you would like to meet demons and various mythological characters in new light and you liked humor in Charley Davidson series, then you might also enjoy new urban fantasy series The Reluctant Reaper by Gina X. Grant.

Disclaimer: I was given a free eBook by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. This text is also posted on my blog Bookworm Dreams in a little bit more styled edition. ( )
  bookwormdreams | Jun 17, 2013 |
*I received a free ARC of The Reluctant Reaper from Pocket Star via Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review*

This and other reviews can also be found on my blog (un)Conventional Bookviews.

On the night of her 25th birthday, Kristy’s life as she knows it takes a huge turn for the worse, or maybe actually better. As her soul is reaped by mistake, her body is in a coma, and she is brought to the Netherworld by Dante. The Reluctant Reaper is filled with 80s and 90s references that truly had me laughing out loud, and the wordplay is masterfully done. There is a lot of it, and I had trouble choosing what to quote in my review!

Kristy is lamenting her sort at first, and in a way, I felt sorry for her, but I also wanted her to get her act together and fight what was happening to her incorporeal self. Dante feels so bad about what has happened to Kristy he doesn’t know what to do to make things right. At the same time, he now feels that his job is to protect her. Before actually leaving the world for hell, Kristy sees her co-workers reaction to her almost-demise, and it’s truly not what she would have thought! Nobody seems to be all that upset about the fact that she’s in a coma – in fact, they soon start fighting each other for her office supplies. Her good surprise comes when she finds her body, and the two aunts who raised her, at the hospital. Then, she finally realizes that she is loved, and that her aunts have always done everything in their power so she can have a good life. ( )
  Lexxie | Apr 30, 2013 |
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Kirsty d’Arc is enjoying life, until someone she trusts hijacks her soul in this first installment of The Reluctant Reaper series. To escape Hell’s inferno and gain revenge, Kirsty must partner with the very Reaper who scythed her—the hunky dead poet Dante Alighieri.

Life for Kirsty d’Arc might not be perfect, but it’s far from hellish. She likes her job, has a great BFF, and truly admires Conrad, her boss. But when she dives in front of a lunatic’s blade to save him from certain death, she finds out Conrad isn’t so admirable after all. In fact, he’s traded her soul to the Devil!

While her body lies comatose on the Mortal Coil, Kirsty’s spirit is dragged straight to Hell…which is not quite the fire-and-brimstone abyss she’d expected. In fact, the place is quirky, wacky, and not without charm. Desperate to reunite body and soul before her time runs out, she seeks out allies, earning the friendship of a powerful drag demon, a psychic server, and, most importantly, Hell’s civil servant. But what of her growing attraction to Dante, the sexy Reaper with a flair for romantic language—can she forgive him for scything her soul?

Stuck in the netherworld, Kirsty vows she’ll do everything on her postmortem bucket list, starting with getting her life back and ensuring that Conrad has Hell to pay!

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