Review of The Company of Death

The Company of Death by Elisa Hansen

The most enjoyable novel I’ve read this year. Original, page-turning, fun and scary.

The personification of death, skeletal and robed, has lost its horse, scythe, and purpose in Elisa Hansen’s post-apocalyptic world. Death must reach New York in order to set the world right and resume its life-reaping ways.

Told with multiple points-of-view characters, the story centers around Emily, one of several humans who works to free their kind from enslavement by vampires in locations called communes. Apparently before the world fell apart, technology such as robotics and artificial intelligence was further along than today, though now quite hampered by the scarcity of fuel and electricity.

When a planned raid on a commune goes wrong, overrun by zombies, Emily’s life takes a strange and unprecedented turn. Even Death is stumped. Their destinies now entwined, Emily accompanies Death on its march to Manhattan.

Along the way they encounter Scott, also a human heading east. He had twice missed a chance to get to NYC by airship before the world ended. Now he’s running on fumes, though not alone. With him is Carol, a laser-packing robot who reminds Scott of his sister, because she had built it.

With plenty of mistrust among the four, they must nonetheless work together to reach their destination, all the while being pursued by Leif, a long-lived vampire with his own agenda.

Hansen wonderfully sets up the characters and their motivations, and also raising the intriguing question: what happens when Death no longer reaps?

This is Book 1, so there is more to the story, but I think it ends at a good point after a suspenseful climax.

UPDATE/Spoiler-ish

I loved the scene when Emily is alone in the shed with Scott and her nose catches an irresistible scent. She must… she can’t… but maybe just a little bit… no!

Interview with Artist Laura Lee Gulledge

In episode 45 of Working Title, I chat with teacher, artist, and writer Laura Lee Gulledge. We discuss her joy of being an art teacher, while overcoming impostor syndrome, and while being an Will Eisner award nominee.

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Vampire Haiku: A Quick Bite of Dracula

Inspired by my recent Working Title podcast with poet Hope Whitby and in honor of National Poetry Month, I thought I’d challenge myself to write some haikus this month.

But I need focus. What can I base these brief poems on? Vampires, certainly. Hmm. Guess I should start with Dracula. Warmer. Ah-ha! How about a haiku summarizing each chapter of the eponymous novel?

So that’s what I will be posted below. Each day I will add a haiku for the next chapter. Let’s see how it goes.

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Interview with Poet Hope Whitby

As I have done in prior years, I dedicate April’s episode to National Poetry Month. My poet guest this time is Hope Whitby. In episode 44 of Working Title podcast we discuss Hemingway and tulips, how Bookmobiles were an invaluable part of her childhood, and her love of writing haikus, which can be a fun method to tone up your poetry skills.

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