C.M. Shigeta’s The Deathbroker is available for free at the author’s official site:
DISCLAIMER: C.M. and I have many mutual friends online. We’re also members of a grimdark SF&F group on Facebook, which I believe is one of social media’s best kept secrets. We’ve chatted here and there these past few months, but only recently did we solidify our friendship. I offer these words not to boast or as filler, but simply to say that he never asked me to read this story. I did it of my volition. Neither did he request me to review it. That was my choice, as well. My reviews are always honest and fair. This was no exception.
My initial impression was one of gratitude, at having the opportunity to read this short tale. And then his prose hit me, not unlike a twenty pound sledgehammer driven forcefully to the gut. Shigeta’s prose was incredibly smooth, evocative of bygone millennia while simultaneously remaining relevant (increasingly pertinent, actually,) and modern. It was lyrical in ways I hadn’t anticipated, and often poetic, with silent nods to the works of Edgar Allen Poe and Stephen King’s iconic Dark Tower series, particularly The Gunslinger.
It was also very visual; atmospheric. In a handful of pages (I’m not privy to the word count, but I read the story in less than twenty minutes,) Shigeta managed to develop this world quite spectacularly. That level of worldbuilding in such a small duration was really impressive. It boggles the mind, really. And then there’s the deathbroker himself–the necromancer.
There is no moral quandry in scavenging, in his mind. What harm is there in taking what will otherwise go to waste?
The plot was superficially simple, and moved both leisurely and almost at breakneck speed. I couldn’t get enough. Before the denouement was crossed, I intuitively knew two things: 1.) it wouldn’t have a clear cut ending, and 2.) the dread I felt upon having to part with these characters was nearly palpable, and agonizing.
I need the next installment ASAP.
Rating: 5/5 stars