grim adventures of death and chanRating: 4 stars
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Vawn Cassidy Store
Length: Novel

 

The Grim Adventures of Death & Chan, Volume 1 is a set of bonus short stories featuring two side characters from Vawn Cassidy’s Crawshanks Guide to the Recently Departed series, and is currently only available through the author’s website store. The stories connect with the main series, so this is best read by those who are at least somewhat familiar with those books, particularly Dead Serious Case #3: Mr Bruce Reyes. The stories flow nicely from one to another, with call backs to events that happen in earlier stories. So while there is a time gap in between them, the overall book reads like a connected story, rather than a set of unrelated adventures.

I have always enjoyed Chan as a character and I think Cassidy has done a nice job through the series of showing Chan’s loneliness without Dusty, as well as his pain at not being able to see or speak to her while others can. So I liked getting the chance here to get to know Chan better. Aside from the relationship elements, we also learn a little more about Chan’s journey with gender identity. I had a harder time connecting with Death, or with the two of them together, particularly in the earlier stories. I feel like the introduction of the men as a couple in the main series had an element of comic relief. The idea of this eons old supernatural being with no idea how to interact naturally with humans falling for Chan and leaving weird gifts brought lightness to the more intense storyline. So I had trouble mentally shifting here to Death as a serious character, a real person with a developing romantic relationship (especially calling him “Death,” which made him feel like less of a real person to me). While we do get Death’s POV for some chapters, we get much less character development for him than for Chan. By the time I got to the third story, the flow felt better to me, and I was able to settle into the connection between them better, but it did take a little while to get there. Overall, I found this a fun anthology and a nice way to bridge the gap between main books. I hope there are more stories to come for the series side characters.

Death Goes on a Date: Chan has been finding gifts in his apartment, culminating in a painting stolen from a French museum. When Death reveals he was behind the gifts and that he is interested in Chan, the two of them go on a romantic dinner date and have a hot night of sex. The two men get a chance to know one another better and both are definitely interested in more. We learn about the gifts, stolen painting, and date during book 3 of the main series, but this time we see the events from Death and Chan’s points of view, so there is a lot more detail. A lot of this story focuses on the attraction between them, as well as the hot sex, but it also gives them a chance to get to know each other better. This is the longest story at about 40% of the book.

Death Goes Shopping: This second story picks up after the events of book 3 and the gang has saved the world. Chan decides to that Death needs to have some real human experiences, so he wants to take him shopping. Riding the tube and wandering the mall doesn’t always show off the very best side of humanity, but the two men have a great time together. We also get some time with Chan and Dusty where Chan explores his thoughts on his gender and his future as a drag queen. There are some light and fun moments, as well as some heavier ones, particularly at the end of the story.

Death goes on Holiday: Death and Chan are headed to Spain for a vacation and Chan is determined that Death experience it all like a human. That means no whisking away magically to Spain, but instead being stuck on a plane and rickety ground transportation, and no luxury experience with magic money either. Death may not love the journey, but once at their destination, the men have a fun and romantic time together. This story relies a bit more heavily on Death as a fish out of water, as he keeps encountering things on the journey he doesn’t understand. The events are played a little more for laughs than some of the other stories, but it is also sweet and sexy.

Death gets a Puppy: Death is helping a soul cross over when he somehow finds himself connected to the deceased’s puppy. Despite Death’s best efforts to find him another home, it looks like he has found himself a new pet. This final story is the shortest and really not much more than a few scenes. It is just a sweet add on and a cute ending to the collection.

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