Top Tier (4 to 5 stars)

Mischief, Mayhem and Shakespeare [On Behalf of Death #5], by E.G. Stone

5 out of 5 stars. This series is turning more mature without losing its humour.

5 stars
This book is set to be published on November 5th, 2021.

When I was a kid, we had a cat. Later on we added a dog to the mix, that had to get used to being bossed around by the cat because it was there first. After both were dead, my parents decided to get another dog. That one is also dead by now (time will do that to our beloved pets, damn bastard!). So, two dogs and a cat. All are dead now. Coincidentally, Death also had two dogs and one cat. And isn’t the thought nice that my parent’s pets could now be living (sic) with Death? It’s kind of a reassuring thought.

Although my parent’s pets were not named Mischief, Mayhem and Shakespeare. And they sure as hell weren’t fae animals or cross breeds thereof. Which settles the fact that sadly,  those are not the pets I’m having lovingly memories for.

Shakespeare is a rather special cat. Oh, should I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more furry and more malevolent.

Starting with book 4, the series introduced some darker undertones. Which is a development I highly welcome. (After all, the series name contains the entity Death – it’s pretty much expected to have some dark moments.) Also since then, Cal started to become something more. It’s an interesting overall story arc, one I’m very curious in seeing to play out. Bear with me a moment, I’m going to dwell into dramaturgical terrains:

The Hero’s Journey, a dramaturgical pattern according to Joseph Campbell.

I’m inclined to assume that there is some kind of overall story arc for this series. (I know that E.G. basically imagines funny situations for Cal to solve, she said as much in our interview, but stuff like this happens inevitably, sometimes subconsciously.) If you take a look at the stages of this simple model, you see:

  • Call to adventure
  • Supernatural aid
  • Threshold guardians
  • Challenges and temptations
  • Abbys – death and rebirth
  • Transformation
  • Atonement
  • Return

If you take this concept and look at the series so far, a few things fall surprisingly easy into place. Call to adventure and supernatural aid? Sure, when Cal got shot and Death intervened. Moving around in Elsewhere and his first encounter with Life can easily fulfill the role of guardians. Challenges have been aplenty, and Life once more works as temptation. Death is the mentor, and Cal has two helpers:

The loss of Cal’s soul heralds some kind of death, and what’s happening with Cal right now can be seen as a rebirth. Cal might be at the beginning of his transformation stage. But that’s just my take here.

Anyway, it’s a pleasure seeing Cal advancing himself. He started out as a human, but he’s turning into something more, even though he hasn’t realized it yet. But he will, over time, I’m sure. Which also means this tale is an underdog story (which is something I really, really like). Because most denizens of Elsewhere are still thinking him to be a mere mortal human, and being underestimated is usually a good thing. (Hit em when they don’t expect it!)

Which means this series is slowly turning into more mature fantasy (and quite philosophical at times), but without losing its sense of humour.

I’m quite curious where the journey leads, and I’m happy to bounce along with Cal. So 5 stars again!

Disclaimer: I’ve received a free Advanced Reader’s Copy and are leaving this review voluntarily.

By Stefan

father of two, not enough time to read everything I want to read

3 replies on “Mischief, Mayhem and Shakespeare [On Behalf of Death #5], by E.G. Stone”

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