Death and Resurrection by R.A. MacAvoy ~ 2011. This edition: Prime Books, 2011. Second Printing. Softcover. ISBN: 978-1-60701-286-3. 333 pages.
My rating: 9/10. Probably a bit higher than it really deserves – it’s a far from flawless novel – but I’m just so happy that R.A. MacAvoy is back in the game after a very long hiatus due to ill-health (18 years), and because I really like the way this author thinks.
A few issues with dialogue and occasionally awkward phrasing, and some serious suspension of disbelief issues – I can handle the wendigo/spirit bear thing, and the travelling between life and death, but how do these working people with demanding jobs – veterinarian, psychiatrist – get so much time off, apparently consequence-free?
A very hard-to-classify book. Fantasy, maybe? With thriller and murder mystery overtones. And there’s quite a sweet love story in there, too. And it’s funny. And violent. Death by bamboo! Katanas! Oh – but hang on – the main character is a pacifist Buddhist. Well, maybe things don’t always work out as planned…
You know, except for the messy fight scenes (and the katana) this one really reminds me of MacAvoy’s first novel, the highly regarded and award-winning Tea With the Black Dragon, though the characters in Death and Resurrection are completely different and the story is absolutely original.
And now I am going to completely cheat and steal the reviews from the publisher’s website, because, darn it anyway, it’s been a long, long day, and it feels like bedtime and I need to treat myself with some reading time.
From Prime Books:
The award-winning writer of Tea With the Black Dragon and other acclaimed novels returns to fantasy with the intriguing story of Chinese-American artist Ewen Young who gains the ability to travel between the worlds of life and death. This unasked-for skill irrevocably changes his life—as does meeting Nez Perce veterinarian Dr. Susan Sundown and her remarkable dog, Resurrection. After defeating a threat to his own family, Ewen and Susan confront great evils—both supernatural and human—as life and death begin to flow dangerously close together.
” I love R.A. MacAvoy’s books. Do yourself a favor and pick this up.”—Charles de Lint
“For the brilliantly talented R. A. MacAvoy, no aspect of human life is beyond reach.”—Orson Scott Card
About the Author: R.A. MacAvoy is the author of twelve novels. Her debut, Tea With the Black Dragon, won the John W. Campbell Award, the Locus Award for best first novel, and a Philip K. Dick Award special citation. It was also nominated for the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, the Ditmar Award, and listed in David Pringle’s Modern Fantasy: The Hundred Best Novels. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, she has been married for thirty-three years to Ronald Cain. They live in the Cascade Foothills of Washington State.
MacAvoy clearly still has the talent for the ingratiating characters and revealing detail that made her first novel so delightful; almost every character is handled with wit and grace…Death and Resurrection turns out to be far less portentous adventure romance than its title implies…and almost inevitably more enjoyable…it’s good to have her back.—Gary Wolfe, Locus
MacAvoy’s expansion of her 2009 novella “In Between” will please fans of her thoughtful hero Black Dragon, though new protagonist Ewen Young goes past philosophical to passive. Ewen, a Chinese Buddhist, just wants to be a painter and practice kung fu, but fate has other plans. He’s always had a touch of the spiritual, whether it’s an empathic bond with his twin sister or a psychic retreat he can share with others. When a brush with death kicks it up several notches, he ends up reluctantly guiding an investigation and a school as well as building a relationship with a strong-willed Native American vet and her body-hunting dog. Ewen’s (and MacAvoy’s) refusal to explore the origins of his powers takes the tone of the book further from most Western speculative fiction and toward magical realism or mysticism, which will delight some readers and irritate others.—Publishers Weekly
What they said. Good stuff. Check it out. More MacAvoy reviews coming in the future – I have everything she’s written to date; they all live on my favourites shelf.