Visceral and unsettling, A Life of Death is an artfully developed novel featuring many relevant themes in regard to young adult readers. The nature of life and death is explored, as is the horror of physical/emotional abuse, the importance of family, and the meaning of grief. Through our narrator, Alex, who finds himself gifted with the power of psychometry, we become acquainted not only with his own precarious life situation, but with the history of the small town he inhabits. Long held secrets and mysteries are brought to light, young Alex overwhelmed by his newly discovered abilities. (Curse or gift? You decide.) This is the age old story of the weak finding themselves powerful, the wounded finding themselves strong; a desire we have all come to know during our time on this earth.
The flashback sequences are vividly developed, Kincade immersing us in varied historical periods/settings, and the scenes of domestic abuse are nothing short of haunting. But the book is not without its blemishes: the dialogue sometimes comes across as stilted, and the prose is sprinkled with juvenile metaphors and turns of phrase. This might not standout for a younger audience, but for someone used to reading more mature material it can come across as a little annoying. That being said, I don’t think these issues undermine the narrative’s overall effect, and therefore the story can be considered a success.
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Review Written by W.J. Renehan.