The Reaper’s Quota and Chasing the Reaper by Sarah McKnight
“I want to be human again. I want another chance to live life the right way, without going into a murderous rage. I think I’m perfectly capable of pulling that off if I ever get the chance”.
The Reaper’s Quota starts in medias res by introducing Grim Reaper #2497 (who suspects he was called Steve in a previous life, because “it just feels right”). He’s behind with completing his monthly 30 Random Deaths quota and faces extermination if he does not meet his targets. While he understands how critical his situation is, Steve is also a Grim Reaper with a conscience, struggling to come to terms with the fact that he needs to kill additional humans for fundamentally no reason. However, work is work so he sets on a worldwide journey – physical, metaphysical and spiritual – to find his victims, always looking for a good motive to terminate them, making sense of life (or death, more specifically). During this journey, he encounters all sorts of humanity: good, harmless people, evil people, not so remarkable people, until he meets somebody who can actually see him, changing his afterlife forever (pun intended). Spoiler alert: Book One ends with a cliffhanger.
In Chasing the Reaper, Steven Kelton from Indiana (it was his name after all) gets the second shot at life he was hoping for, starting from when he left off. However, he cannot remember anything about his previous human life (let alone his Reaper life) and doesn’t understand why, mistaking a trauma he doesn’t know he had for a midlife crisis. He is also gifted with the ability to see Grim Reapers, which really unsettles him – to the point that he starts seeing a psychiatrist. In his quest for logical explanations and answers to the meaning of life he’s so desperately trying to grasp, he will find love and start the most surreal exchange with Reaper #1632 who constantly follows him around (for circumstances we cannot explain without additional spoilers). His past as a reaper will eventually catch up with him, leaving Steve to make the most difficult decision of his life.
The Reaper Chronicles is an extremely well written series, the two stories intertwined in a subtle, clever way, every scene flowing seamlessly into another, taking the reader on a journey. It is incredible how Sarah McKnight managed to pack so much action into only 200 pages of writing! In more than one occasion, the story brought a tear to my eye and I found myself hoping that Steve would ultimately find happiness and meaning. His character is the ultimate positive hero that everybody can’t help but cheer on.
While McKnight manages to keep the tension up for most of the narration with imaginative, vivid descriptions and masterful dark humor, there are some slow moments that could have done with a bit less detail (especially in Book One). However, she presents a slow and steady stream of events that make the reading very pleasant.
My advice to you, dearest reader: if you have 24 hours to spare, do put your hands on a copy of both and start reading NOW. You won’t be able to stop.
The Reaper Chronicles Series is available for purchase at: https://amzn.to/3AP5CWF
About Sarah McKnight
Sarah McKnight has been writing stories since she could pick up a pencil, and it often got her in trouble during math class. After a brief stint teaching English to unruly middle schoolers in Japan, she decided she wasn’t going to put off her dream of becoming a writer any longer and set to work. With several novels in the making, she hopes to tackle issues such as anxiety, depression, and letting go of the past – with a little humor sprinkled in, too. A St. Louis native, she currently lives in Pennsylvania with her wonderful husband and three cats.