This was an advanced reader copy for the June 2018 publication. There are minor spoilers ahead.
Title: The Life and Death Parade
Author: Eliza Wass
Wass’s book came at a rather frustrating time for me. A cancer diagnosis for my dog went from an amputation to a death sentence in less than two weeks. Throughout that time, he still begged for treats, woke me up with wags and kisses, and treated every home coming (even if it was just from putting out the trash) as if it was the most amazing moment of his less than seven years. As my heart seems to beat mainly – if not only – for books and dogs, this short and sudden death sentence struck me. I kept on repeating ‘this isn’t fair.’ Not for me. Not for him. Not for every person who loved and adored him.
And wasn’t Wass just a bright delight. Though her death was more of the human variety, it rang achingly true. Death pulls together or tears apart. I’d seen the same as a medical investigator. A child’s death could tear the fabric of even the strongest marriage regardless of reason. The central death of this story aches even further the more you realize how it was both marked and unmarked.
Death is an absolute. For you, for me – for everything. Even if it isn’t oblivion, it is an end of the work and personification of ourselves as we know it. While the permanency of death remains in question in The Life and Death Parade, the ramifications of its happening resonated into a strange hopefulness.
Kitty is a compelling, multi-focal character, who is desperately attempting to heal people who aren’t able to be healed from something time doesn’t actually heal. She had love, lost love, and blames herself. Being the ‘ward’ of the deceased’s family, she’s rather stuck.
While Death takes the villain role in the beginning as well as it ever does, the real villain revels in obsession and acts as a perverted and exaggerated mirror of Kitty’s love. I’m always fond of reflective villains, and Wass has a rather heart-breaking one here.
All in all, an enjoyable (if ill-timed / well-timed?) read. If death is anything like Wass imagined, I would be content.