The Ferryman Institute

In a fantasy debut reminiscent of the classic film Death Takes a Holiday and Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality, Colin Gigl introduces Charlie, a hero with the ultimate bummer job description--sending the newly dead onto the next plane--and the adventure that will either cure his case of burnout or kill him for good, something of an accomplishment considering his occupation comes with a lifetime supply of immortality.

He is an employee of the shadowy Ferryman Institute, and centuries of never aging, never feeling cold, hunger or pain, and watching an endless parade of tragic deaths have left Charlie empty and exhausted. His thousands of applications for release have met with rejection, and so Charlie limps through his malaise, until he receives a special assignment from the president of the Institute--to see to the soul of one Alice Spiegel, a soon-to-be suicide--and is surprised with options: "Be a Ferryman or save the girl. Your choice."

Gigl pays homage to Greco-Roman mythology while poking fun at corporate structure, but this fast-paced fantasy has its serious side, taking the real-life problem of getting stuck in a dead-end job to a more mystical but still weighty extreme. Gigl seems to realize his concept treads familiar ground; readers will find easy laughs here, but more introspection than in novels with similar premises. A wild ride with plenty to ponder, The Ferryman Institute reaffirms that it is the bitter in life that lets us taste the sweet. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

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