Emily Carding's Reviews > Death Watch

Death Watch by Ari Berk
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's review
Jan 24, 2012

it was amazing
Read in January, 2012

I’m a bit in love with this book. If I were to come up with a catchy description to try and grab the attention of other readers, I might describe it as Hamlet meets Jamaica Inn. However, whilst references to the works of the Bard and other classic literary sources may be found lovingly woven throughout, ‘Death Watch’ is a truly original work. Befitting the theme of the tale, it stands proudly on the shoulders of its ancestors.

Death Watch is a thought-provoking and profoundly moving exploration of loss and the grieving process from both sides of the coin, giving possibly even more insight into the experiences of the souls of the dead than the living. Ari Berk deftly paints his characters and setting in a twilight palette of sepia and grey, within which may be found tones more vivid than any rainbow. The characters, (and the setting of Lichport may well be counted among their number), are subtle, complex and quite fascinating, and as an ex-actor I find myself wishing for a stage or film adaptation, as there is so much in even the smallest parts to get one’s teeth into!

As the first part of a trilogy to be published, I read with some anxiety, afraid to reach the end and then have to wait another year for the next instalment. I was prepared to be patient, as after all I had already waited quite some time for the book itself after hearing the author read a short excerpt at a gathering a few years ago. However I was pleasantly surprised to find that, although I am looking forward greatly to the next book, I felt extremely satisfied when I reached the end of Death Watch. The lead character, Silas Umber, undergoes a true initiatory journey and takes the reader with him on every step, leap and stumble along the way.

There is still so much to explore in the extraordinary and immensely atmospheric Lichport, (such an inspired name for the town!), and until the next two volumes appear, I may have to dip back into Death Watch on a regular basis in order to walk the haunted pathways of this town once more.
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