In Once Dead, Twice Shy, Kim Harrison introduces the reader to Madison Avery shortly after her 17th birthday. It’s an understatement to say her birthday isn’t the best day of her life. The all important high school ritual of prom is the same day, her date is the son of her father’s friend who took her as a favor since she’s new to school, and the handsome stranger she left prom with purposely crashes his car. When she doesn’t die he scythes her because he’s a reaper. But she steals his amulet which gives her the illusion of a body. She’s dead and stuck on earth with no body.
While reading this, I was reminded a little bit of the tv series Dead Like Me. The reapers are given their assignments and they’re supposed to help the souls go to a better place until they’ve done enough assignments to go on to their own reward. Once Dead, Twice Shy is only similar on the surface. There are dark reapers who believe in destiny and cut down those who would make a name for themselves in history. Their counterpart, the light reapers, believe in free will and they protect people who are about to die. The reapers are angels who have been assigned this duty.
I loved this book. Madison sounds like a self-aware teenager who misses her old life. It can be difficult for a writer to nail the voice of someone 20 years younger. The world Harrison has built is complicated. Avery is kept as much in the dark as the reader regarding the motivations of other characters and how the magic works. It’s great to read a book where you’re learning about things along with the main character.