‘Death Dresses Poorly’ is a dark satirical urban fantasy novel, written by Marc Watson and was published in 2017. The novel begins with the main character, Ethan, who is currently struggling through life, just about coping with depression after surviving a plane crash – an experience I would have thought near impossible to survive. We then watch Ethan meet a strange looking individual who, dressed in crocs, introduces himself as Death. Yes – Death himself. My initial reaction was that Death was coming to collect Ethan, but it turns out that Death is coming to recruit him instead!
The main character was someone who I could relate to, the author had a great understanding of how to make a likable and relatable character. Ethan struggles with his past, by not working through his issues with his mother before she died was something I’m sure a lot of us can understand and this is an issue which Watson deals with in depth.
Watson discovers that Ethan has a lot of deep seated anger towards his mother, and as he meets her in limbo on his ‘tour’ with Death of all the universes, he vents and tells her how he feels. This interaction was truly heart wrenching, as his mother caused a lot of valid emotional trauma to Ethan, her reaction to his emotions was… not what I wanted to see. She isn’t able to provide Ethan with any answers and instead he becomes angrier with her, but this is a human quality that many authors have tried to replicate before now. Truly understanding human emotions, how guilt can affect us, and how life experiences can alter our minds can be very tricky to put across on paper.
The story travels over several parallel universes in an attempt for Death to try and persuade Ethan to take his place as Death. We find out that Death used to be a squirrel, before he was recruited – which I thought was a really nice touch. It’s rare to see something in a book that the author loves, and Watson makes no secret that he really likes squirrels, so I appreciated this small addition to the backstory of Death. Quirks like these, added to stories makes them more approachable, and with the fact that the book is full of passive aggression and sarcasm, it fit really well! Especially when the characters give little snipes to each other throughout!
Halfway through the book, Ethan proposes an ethical conundrum for Death. Ethan was shown in one particular world that there was a type of microorganism that would eventually kill the entire world, and Death could do nothing to stop it due to ‘mother nature’ and letting it take its course. I enjoyed this part of the book, as it made me question my own ethics. If I was aware that there was an organism that would kill everything in its path, would I stop it?
This issue has transpired thousands of times on Earth, from worldwide floods, the Ice Age and volcano eruptions. These are terrifying and environment-changing occurrences, which are not preventable, but if you had the power would you change it? The Ice Age paved the way for new creatures, humanoids and organisms to take control and if the world didn’t freeze, would humans be standing here today? Ethan challenges this idea, by destroying this organism, but in the process ends up wiping everything in the immediate area, plant life, animals and other organisms. Death is outraged because of all of the deaths that Ethan caused, but he argues that had it not been for his actions, more lives would be at stake. An ethical conundrum indeed!
All in all, this book was the perfect combination of a philosophical piece of fiction and humour, had the author not used satirical humour, this book probably would have been incredibly dark with very little enjoyment. Getting this balance right is an art, so that’s why I’m giving it 10 stars. I’ve not been so entertained and challenged at the same time from a book as with Death Dresses Poorly. I normally wouldn’t read this type of fantasy, but I’m so glad I was given the audiobook to review. It’s been a couple of weeks and I still can’t get it out of my head, and I hope I never do.
Marc Watson is a master of provocative satirical literature, and I am all for it.
Death Dresses Poorly Summary
Theme: a dark satirical novel with elements of philosophy that really make the reader think and connect with the main character.
Description: Get ready for a read full of passive aggression, well-used satire and just a hint of sarcasm. Appropriate for younger readers, there’s occasional cursing, and some tasteful sexual references here and there. Nothing a fifteen-year-old wouldn’t have experienced themselves in a Die Hard film.
Narration: The novel is shown from the 3rd person narrative, but shows everything through Ethan’s point of view, working on his feelings and views throughout the book, occasionally taking him away from the secondary main character, Death.
I’m Marc Watson, and I write stuff. I’m an author of genre fiction (primarily Fantasy and Science Fiction of all lengths). I began writing at the age of 15 with a pen and paper, and I’ve never really stopped, even though until recently it was more of a background to me than my defining trait. I have been published on flash fiction site www.101words.org, as well as comedy site www.thecorrectness.com. I’ve been a student of the excellent writing classes at Athabasca University for a number of years.
I live in Calgary, Alberta, and was spawned out of the depths of Southern Ontario. I’m a husband, a proud father of two and can be sometimes found at an actual job. I’m an avid outdoorsman, martial artist of some high repute, baseball player of very little repute, and lover of all Mexican foods. One day ‘World Famous Poutine Aficionado’ will be on my business cards.
Marc Watson Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/marcwroteabook
Marc Watson Twitter – https://twitter.com/writewatson
Marc Watson Website – https://marcwatson.ca/about-me/
The Correctness.Com – www.thecorrectness.com
101 Words – www.101words.org