Sippian, a young Black man who met an untimely end due to gun violence, recalls his afterlife experiences in Hell assuming the role of Death itself. Through a series of masterfully crafted vignettes, he tells of the trials and tribulations involved while reaping souls for the Devil and learning the complex hierarchy that exists within his new job. But how far will he go to maintain his place at the top when he finds himself confronted with a deeply personal task that tests the limit of his emotions?
Duvay Knox’s SOUL COLLECTOR revitalizes the supernatural thriller genre with a fresh take on a classic storytelling convention. The tale of a modern day Grim Reaper, spun as an urban folktale with an unflinching voice and a wickedly fast pace. There’s a casual, conversational tone to Sippian’s/Death’s narrative style, which makes the book all the more difficult to put down once engrossed in each vignette. It’s light on description, but this isn’t a detriment to the story at all––every single detail is precisely where it needs to be, concise yet sharp. Characters come alive with authentic, quick dialogue, tempered by the novel’s laugh-out-loud dark comedy, cleverness, and strong sense of voice.
From an amiable fitness instructor on borrowed time, to a passionate romantic fling with a young woman caught in a desperate situation, each character reveals themselves to be as real and vivid as the last, most through dialogue alone. Not an easy feat by any means, but somehow Knox makes it look artful with a keen ear for realistic dialogue that’s easy to absorb once the rhythm becomes familiar. A memorable personality in particular is Mr. Otis, Sippian’s enigmatic mentor who helps him learn the ropes––all while he materializes cigarettes out of thin air and never needs to ask for a light.
There’s an infectious cadence to the storytelling that’s entirely all its own, shoving aside literary constraints to carve out something new, something sorely needed. Almost as if it’s told in verse, the book’s formatting adds to its storytelling style. Knox crafts an immersive page-turner that deftly balances hilarious observational comedy with poignant and often heart-wrenching anecdotes on the human condition. Even as Death itself, Sippian can’t exactly let go of his humanity; forming attachments to the people whose souls he’s duty-bound to collect becomes a complicated business that threatens his good reputation. It’s Sippian’s humanity, his own soul, that holds the story together. A darkly funny, gripping, and soulful read that will leave everyone wanting the next book.
A modern urban folktale with its own cadence and soul, Duvay Knox’s SOUL COLLECTOR shoves aside literary constraints to tell a darkly funny, poignant, and artfully fast-paced story of the human condition.
~Jessie Thomas for IndieReader