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Bewildering Stories

Richard Parks, Hereafter, and After

reviewed by Holly Schmidt

Hereafter, and After
Author: Richard Parks
Publisher: PS Publishing, 2007
Length: 90 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1904619864
Jacob Hallman is an accountant and he is dead, right from the start of the book. In fact it begins with his being welcomed into heaven by an angel named Brendan. But Jake’s time in the afterlife is not going to go quite as normally as most.

He begins to have revelations, he begins to realise certain truths about the nature of heaven, angels and the Gods. He crosses the Rainbow Bridge and visits Valhalla. He encounters the Gods and heroes of Norse mythology and finds them bored with eternity, eager to interact with someone new and here tales that are new to them, irrespective of their not being particularly heroic tales. And at the request of Odin he travels to the demesne of Hel, the Mistress of the Dead, in order to try to win the freedom of Baldur.

And all along the way he continues to have his revelations...

This grabbed my attention. It’s wonderfully irreverent, taking a skewed look at the afterlife and the gods of Norse mythology and the effect eternity would have on them.

Jake is a fairly typical everyman character; there is nothing unusual about him — I mean he was an accountant. And it’s this normalcy of our central character that makes this tale work. If we had a big heroic type or a super-intelligent person then it would not work. Making Jake an average guy makes this feel right, and the character comparisons to the gods, angels and demons are all the better for it.

Its length also is ideal, Parks has shown a true understanding of the novella length. The idea suits 90 pages perfectly, and the author didn’t get tempted to make this into a novel. Trust me, I’ve read novel-length books with less plot than this novella.

PS Publishing has another winner here.

Copyright © 2007 by [author unknown]

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