Rating: 3 stars
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Aiden M. Scott is 26 years old, 3 years dead, and stuck in Limbo. What is a bored departed supposed to do with limitless time on his hands? Why become a reaper of course. And for three years, that is the job Aiden has done. He is a reaper, more of a social worker really, for the newly departed. Aiden and the other reapers meet the newly dead as they arrive in Limbo, and then help them to ascend by assisting them in discovering what is holding them back. Some of the dead move on immediately, and for others, it can take years of “celestial therapy” before they move on and Aiden is so tired of it all. He can’t figure out why he has never ascended and he is getting a little depressed.
Then Brandon shows up in Limbo, Aiden’s best friend and secret crush. Aiden asks Miles, the head reaper, to be Brandon’s caseworker. He wants to be the one to help Brandon move on. More accurately, Aiden wants time to spend with Brandon before he moves on, and taking a personal interest in your “client” is frowned upon in the reaper business. So Aiden tries to hide his attraction to Brandon, even from Brandon himself. But when Brandon confesses he is gay to Aiden, Aiden realizes that he has a confession of his own to make before its too late. Between Limbo and Heaven, is there room for love?
After reading this story, all I could think was that perhaps InstaLove In Limbo would have been a more accurate title. It’s not that this is a poorly written story because it isn’t. It’s just that there is nothing particularly memorable about it either. Every person has their own take on what happens after death. There are funny takes as well as epic ones. This one runs more along the lines of Dilbert in Limbo. I will let Brandon tell you about it as he questions Aiden on the afterlife:
“So you work until the day you die. Then you work some more? Doesn’t sound too peaceful to me.”
“No, but sitting back and waiting for something to happen isn’t fun either. We use work, even without pay, to escape the mundane. It helps, but only a little.”
“What do we do now?”
Well, at that point I wanted to put the book down. You mean there are cubicles in limbo? Sounds more like a level of hell to me. If this had been a comedic take on the afterlife, then this would have been an amusing twist but it’s all very serious. Also the world building should continue to give a complete feel to the afterlife the author has constructed. The afterlife is dull, its colors dampened, fine. But there are stores that remain open so the reapers can get coffee, etc. Who runs those if everyone either moves on or is a reaper? Don’t know. What about the reaper organization? Not real sure about that either, which is surprising considering how big a role that plays in the story.
The same issues that I have with the author’s world building continue into her characterization. Not much difference between Aiden and Brandon. Could very well be the same person. Closeted, bland, then instalove. The only character I was interested in was Mrs. Emily Davidson, a long-term resident of limbo in need of assistance in ascending. She was more complex than either of the two main characters and therefore, far more interesting. Once of the things that kept her from moving on was her anger at her husband for not waiting for her to arrive so they could go on together. Understandable and human. But at the end, the author seems to have forgotten that part of Emily’s story and brings in a totally new reason for her to ascend (one not even suggested at), and it just doesn’t make any sense.
Nor does the ending. I won’t go into it but it seems almost a refutation of the story’s premise, almost as though the author couldn’t figure out which way she wanted to go with the plot’s focal point. In the end, I did waver between a 2.75 stars and a 3. It was Mrs. Davidson that gave this story a 3-star rating, but I don’t think that is enough to recommend it to a reader. If a friends to lovers in limbo story is your thing, then you might want to pick this one up, otherwise I would give it a miss. There are many wonderful books out there to read. I would find those instead.
Cover Artist: Kalen O’Donnell delivers a nondescript cover that has nothing to do with the story within.