Foreword Reviews - - Foresight Fantasy -

Sam Hooker, Black Spot Books (APRIL) Soft­cover $14.99 (330pp) 978-1-73293-572-3

Even sin­is­ter cults need ac­coun­tants. Soul Re­mains, the sec­ond book in the Ter­ri­bly Se­ri­ous Dark­ness se­ries by Sam Hooker, finds Sloot neck-deep in necro­man­tic trou­ble. This whim­si­cal, wry novel sends Sloot deeper into a mag­i­cal world where the only fate worse than death is taxes.

Af­ter a har­row­ing ad­ven­ture in Peril in the Old Coun­try, Sloot wakes up dead. Al­ready prone to fits of angst, Sloot is racked with anx­i­ety, in­ap­pro­pri­ate metaphors, and a du­bi­ous grasp on how he en­tered the Hereafter. Sloot’s dis­com­fort in­ten­si­fies as he learns how to be a ghost in the blood-drink­ing, spirit-sum­mon­ing, sur­pris­ingly dan­ger­ous world of the dead. Char­ac­ters from Peril re­cur, in some­what al­tered states—dead, de­cayed, or de­monic—and are seeded through the plot, keep­ing Soul Re­mains from get­ting bogged down in back­story: there’s just enough ex­pla­na­tion to sus­tain the novel’s pace and keep the jokes flow­ing. As usual, Hooker’s satir­i­cal style sat­u­rates each scene. Soul Re­mains is rich with self-con­scious word play that ex­poses and com­ments on Sloot’s in­ner thoughts in a comic, run­ning mono­logue. What­ever sor­cer­ers or vam­pires Sloot en­coun­ters, noth­ing is as fright­en­ing as his own fear. As a fishout-of-water char­ac­ter, his per­spec­tive makes even the land of the dead come to life. Sloot dis­cov­ers, for ex­am­ple, that a groan is the “spir­i­tual equiv­a­lent of stretch­ing a sore mus­cle”—it feels good— though he can’t quite get the hang of lev­i­ta­tion.

Once again, Sloot’s luck goes from bad to laugh-out-loud worse. Soul Re­mains is full of sur­prises. Sloot, a bean-counter in life, learns that blood is the cur­rency of the Hereafter. Zom­bies keep their parts in­tact with the help of “ad­he­sive ap­pli­ca­tion­ists ped­dling every­thing from glues to splints to gi­ant sta­ples.” The Hereafter is packed with imag­i­nary de­lights and dan­gers, and poor Sloot stum­bles on them all.

Sam Hooker con­tin­ues to cre­ate rol­lick­ing tales of woe with Soul Re­mains.

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