LENGTH: 60-80k words (250 pages)
Welcome to Limbo City--an urban melting pot where the souls of the recently departed, be they Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, any other faith, or without faith wander the streets side-by-side with Greek and Egyptian gods, angels, and nephilim.
Lana Harvey is a reaper, second-class citizens created to escort souls across the Sea of Eternity to their faith's final afterlife heaven or hell, thus freeing up their boss, Grim, to pursue the business of running Eternity. Inthe past, Eternity had been mired in wars between the religions, until Grim brokered a truce. He's now head-honcho of Eternity and the Afterlife Council, consisting of representatives from the major religions that maintain order and peace among all. As with corporations everywhere, running Eternity is fraught with political intrigue, infighting, backstabbing, espionage, and uneasy alliances.
An underachiever who's never been one to follow the rules too strictly, Lana frequently butts heads with her boss, so no one is more surprised than she when she's promoted. Now, Lana, along with her partner, Josie, apprentice, Kevin, and best friend, the ne'er-do-well angel, Gabriel are sent on a secret mission to find one special soul--one that can help her boss, Grim, remain incontrol.
But someone on the inside is determined to see Lana fail and sends demons to attack the group as they search. Lana doesn't like being a pawn, but the only way out is to defeat the demons, find the soul, and complete the mission. No matter the cost.
Roquet provides a solid foundation for the world she's created without miring down in backstory. Some of the references to more obscure religious figures or practices means the reader has to work to keep track or figure it out from the context, but that's never really a struggle. A few twists are thrown in late in the story, and the reader is left with some dangling plot threads, setting up the next book in the series. Overall, Graveyard Shift is a good, entertaining read, but, like Chinese food, even when every bite is delicious, an hour later, you're not completely satisfied. This is the first bookin the series, and it's definitely good enough to draw you into the next book, so perhaps the overall effect will be greater than any one part.
In Graveyard Shift, Angela Roquet has created an entertaining version of life-after-death. The world-building is thorough without loading up with backstory. This fun look at the Afterlife, with its creative blending of religious lore and mythology, will entertain anyone with an interest in, but not overly sensitive about, belief systems. Those not at least a little familiar with the major world religions could get lost or overwhelmed, and miss many of the more subtle--and often hilarious--references. Likewise, fundamentalists and those who take their religion seriously probably want to avoid this not-exactly-reverent look at what happens after life.
4 out of 5 stars. Graveyard Shift, the first in the Lana Harvey, Reapers, Inc. series, is a thoroughly enjoyable read with plenty of action, as well as some fun and intriguing takes on the afterlife and world religions. A very strong first novel, and I think the coming books in the series are just going to get better.
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Lynne Hinkey is a writer by passion, a marine scientist by training, and a curmudgeon by nature. Her first novel, Marina Melee, is a tropical-island misadventure. Her second novel, Ye Gods! A Tale of Dogs and Demons, a monster is on a rampage in Puerto Rico. Is the chupacabra real of myth? Dog only knows. Visit her at www.lynnehinkey.com.