Judging by the cover, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from Death and Mr. Right by Kendra L. Saunders. It has one of those covers that makes perfect sense after you've read the book. (It's worth mentioning here that the paperback sold out on its release day on Amazon.) It turns out that the unexpected aspects of the story--the framework of which is a complete re-imagining of How The Universe Works--are what make it a bright and entertaining read. The story centers on Death, a blue-haired former bullying victim whose life is cut unexpectedly short approximate three decades before his tenure as the iconic Death. Since all is not as expected, the position is more of a day-to-day grind of tweaking nightmares and creating a general unease amongst humanity. (The Reaper, Death's penultimate boss, tends to be super-busy.) As the story matures, we find out just how seriously the eccentric, insecure, physically small Death takes his job. One of his besties in the office is the venerable Mr. Right, an entity whose job is to act as matchmaker--he is very old and very tired. What's unclear is whether or not Right has betrayed Death and what his role was in having the young man installed in the first place. They and several others serve, for lack of a better term, as Agents of Order.
Things seem to be going fine at the beginning, Death is relatively happy with his job, free of the dreary mortal constraints he'd been subjected to when alive. His daily supervisor, Malcolm, is kind of a turd, but that's to be expected when one is hired under the auspices of nepotism. It comes as a neverending shock when Death is fired and sent to Earth as a mortal for falling in love with Lola, the woman who steals a very important list from him. It turns out that Boston is where former Agents are sent to while away their mortality.
I give this story a strong thumb up. I tend to go in for a grittier take on how the supernatural world operates, so let me give some reasons why I enjoyed this book. Saunders's characters are fun and eccentric, they grow and change. Death's apparent naiveté, despite his relative age, fades and is replaced with something more palatable over the course of the story. The reimagining of How Things Work is a pleasure. We've seen The Universe as an office building before, but I've never seen these iconic roles reconfigured quite like this. Some may be disappointed with the antagonist, but that person wasn't really the point of the story. They're practically a McGuffin, a little something to kick things off and send Death on his journey. I won't spoil the little mystery, it's the larger mystery of Death's journey to full maturity that's worth paying attention to.