Dying for a Living is an urban fantasy book written by Kory M. Shrum. It can be found free on kindle, iBooks, and other online websites. You’d be forgiven for assuming a free book is a book best avoided, but in this case I’d have to recommend that you think again.
For those who enjoy fantasy novels, this first instalment of the Jesse Sullivan series, which has some really creative ideas. Shrum has taken the stock zombie character and modernised it. Jesse is a Necronite, that’s the PC word for zombie, she doesn’t eat your brains but simply has a harder time staying dead than most people. This leads Jesse into an unusual profession, replacement dying. The rich can find out through psychics when they are going to die and pay a replacement agent to die in their stead. The first few chapters give us an explosive introduction to Jesse and her unusual career, allowing you to get hooked on this novel fast.
The few times that I have read a book in which stock horror characters are humanised, it has been a paranormal romance. The monsters have feelings too and they fall for a human. Refreshingly, that is not the case here. Instead Jesse’s ‘medical condition’ makes her a target for some very violent and unwelcome attention. There is an awkward love-triangle for Jesse to contend with, but it is not centre stage, rather an interesting subplot that provides some good character development.
I’d say that this is urban fantasy at its most innovative. At heart Jesse is an ordinary, if slightly sassy, young woman who is struggling to cope with her unusual medical problem. She gets unwillingly pulled into a dark mystery with murders and kidnaps to solve, all while the police try to pin the blame on her. Add in; seeing angels, predicting the future, the Church, a possible military cover-up, other supernatural powers and the story gets really interesting. As the story reached the climax I did find that the writing became a bit erratic, jumping from one subject to another rather quickly. Yet, as there were a lot of elements, both supernatural and not, to juggle with at once I can forgive this occasional lapse in Shrum’s otherwise very decent writing style.
Although I really enjoyed this novel I did have some big questions which did not get answered. Shrum is definitely holding back for the sequels. That was a little frustrating, but I enjoyed this first instalment enough that I will be continuing this series in the hope that I get those answers. And I’m dying to hear more about Jesse’s adorable pet Pug Winston!