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The Dry Bones Society #1

An Unexpected Afterlife

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He lost everything. His wife. His job. His clothes. Oh, and his life.

When he wakes up, naked and alone, in the Mount of Olives Cemetery, Moshe Karlin finds that the afterlife is not what he had expected.

The doomsday prophecies of the Hebrew Bible are coming true, but why does everyone seem to want him dead?

He’ll have to work very hard to win back his old life… and his wife. Along the way, he’ll make some new friends and dangerous enemies, and discover that perhaps his first life wasn’t so perfect after all. But there’s more.

Just when he thought his life was over, Destiny has more in store for him than he could ever imagine: the shocking secret to peace in the Middle East and the end of History…

278 pages, Paperback

Published March 28, 2017

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About the author

Dan Sofer

7 books33 followers
Dan Sofer won the 2016 Best Book Award (category: religious fiction) for his debut novel, A Love and Beyond ("A mysterious crime. A ruthless secret society. And a desperate bachelor...")

His romantic adventures and magical satires explore Jewish lore and legend on the streets of modern-day Jerusalem.

His new novel, An Unexpected Afterlife, hits the shelves March 28, 2017. (Available for pre-order on Amazon, B&N, BookDepository, etc.)

Dan lives in Israel with his family.

*** Download a free book at http://dansofer.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 81 reviews
Profile Image for Gayathri.
231 reviews55 followers
September 25, 2017
Read full review at Musings Over Nothing

Moshe Karlin wakes up naked at a cemetery at the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem the morning after his 40th birthday. He catches a taxi to his house, trying to remember what prank his best friend Avi had pulled on him the previous night, only to find Avi and his wife Gallit in bed together. As if that was not enough to enrage him, Avi throws him off his house, saying Moshe has been dead for two years.

He reaches out to the local Rabbi Yosef, the one who buried Moshe when he was dead and tries to understand his situation. Without an ID, place to live or family to depend upon he stumbles on trying to win his old life, his wife, and his daughter. The Rabbi and Moshe are startled to find more 'dead' people are resurrected, and they seek their help. Some remember who they were; many don't. Some are Jews, and few are not. Didn't Torah promise that only Jews will be resurrected?

Meanwhile, not far from this chaos, the Prophet Elijah himself is stuck in an unforeseen situation. According to the scriptures and the destiny, he was supposed to save the world, but how can he when His world is changing. To make matters worse for the Rabbi the Great Council (of religious wisemen) discards the Rabbi's theory of resurrection and pronounces the resurrected as ' Sitra Achra!' (other side / unholy world).

What does the Rabbi choose - his free will and understanding of the Torah or the words of the Council that has guided him all through his life and also can change the stability and peace in a teacher's life? How do Moshe and his clan move ahead? Did they find what they are seeking? The An Unexpected Afterlife and the series will answer your questions.

An Unexpected Afterlife is a steady paced narrative that kept me engrossed until the end, well, end of the first book of the series. Thankfully the book didn't end in a cliffhanger perse, though the series would answer many questions. The writing is crisp, and the tiny streak of satire kept things interesting. I loved the strong world building, and all the central characters had depth

The one thing that kinda annoyed me at the was that the stories of Moshe and Elijah did not seem to be related all, at least in the first book. Maybe they will merge somewhere down the lane in the following books of the series. I am not a great fan of fantasy and the zombie/undead world and have avoided them for a while. An Unexpected Afterlife made me realize what I have been missing out.

The story is primarily set in Israel, and I loved how the book let me have a glimpse into the world of Jews and their beliefs and culture. It is one of those things that made say yes when the author Dan Sofer approached for a review of his book, and I am glad I chose it. If you are interested in reading a religious take on the resurrection An Unexpected Afterlife is your pick.
Profile Image for Beth.
3,126 reviews261 followers
October 30, 2017
A unique and unusual take on the resurrection, An Unexpected Afterlife, blends humor with the heart-crushing reality that life goes on without you and the result on those who would rise again.

Original and a well-developed cast made the reading seamlessly flow.

The devotion of the main character to his wife is something to behold. Even after his 2-year absence and her moving on to his best friend, he must come to the realization that a moment in time for him was years in their lives.

Some things just don't die. Blending Jewish and Christian belief systems with an artistic flair, Sofer offers just enough realism to make his tale read like truth. The story bends some religious icons and belief systems to fit this fictional tale. Those who would take offense, this story is not for you. And this is where I have to admit, I was not comfortable with the telling. Introducing this theory by Rabbi Yosef he uses "Your dead will live, their corpses rise. Awake and sing praise, you that dwell in the dust for your dew is the dew of light..." Isaiah 26:19 as well as Ezekiel Chapter 37 to explain the risings. To me, this is definitely using some artistic interpretation. And though it was not for me, I have to appreciate Sofer's ability to write a strong, tantalizing, and original plot.

I received this copy of An Unexpected Afterlife from Dan Sofer. This is my honest and voluntary review.

My Rating: 4 stars
Written by: Dan Sofer
ISBN-13: 9780986393235
Publisher: Dan Sofer
Publication date: 03/28/2017
Series: Dry Bones Society , #1
Pages: 284
Genre: Scifi, Fantasy

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Unexpected-Aft...
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/an-u...

Reviewed for: http://tometender.blogspot.com

Profile Image for Ellie Mitchell.
Author 3 books226 followers
November 29, 2017
Set in East Jerusalem, An Unexpected Afterlife follows the journey of Moshe Karlin, a forty year old husband and father, who awakens from the grave two years after unknowingly leaving the world of the living, to find that he has been replaced by supposed best friend, Avi.

As we learn more about Moshe’s predicament, others in his situation begin to appear, none any the wiser to the cause of their resurrection. I found Moshe’s character to be kind and humble, a true gentleman seeking to do what is right by his fellow man.

Lots of differing viewpoints were shown in regards to the subject of resurrection: some individuals branded it as science fiction and shunned our main characters, while a few accepted their tales of woe and were willing to help them back onto their feet.

Loss, love, and betrayal are key themes that I was able to identify.
The author’s style was poetic and gave the impression that every word was carefully chosen for maximum emotional impact. His words formed beautiful images within my mind, as well as some not so beautiful.

A tale of life, death, and true rebirth.
Rated 5 stars.

Recommended for lovers of the paranormal.
Profile Image for Hobart.
2,281 reviews57 followers
October 25, 2017
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
Moshe Karlin wakes up after his birthday party got out of hand -- so out of hand that he doesn't remember drinking as much as he clearly did, he doesn't remember what happened to his clothes, or why he's in the cemetery on the Mount of Olives. He makes it home, crawls into bed and finds another man in his bed with his wife. The man (his best friend and business partner, Avi) and his wife are pretty freaked out -- as is Moshe. Moshe because that's the last thing he expected to find in his bed, and the other two are freaked out because Moshe has been dead for 2 years.

Moshe might be alive again, but his life is gone -- his business is a wreck, his daughter doesn't recognize him, and his wife won't talk to him. But his neighbor a rabbi will listen to him, and talks to him about the believes around the Resurrection. They soon discover another person claiming to be resurrected -- she has no memory about anything, not her name, cause of death, anything. The two bond quickly and begin working together to provide for their new lives, to understand them, and to try to get Moshe's family back. Along the way, they bring in more of the Resurrected to help out. It's not a large, general resurrection at work, or even a stream of them -- but it is a decent trickle.

Their rabbi friend tries to get them in front of the religions leaders in the culture, but are rebuffed. Next thing they're fighting to survive. They have no legal standing, a need for money and shelter, jobs, and some way to make people pay attention to their claims.

There's a prophet running around, too. An accident put shim in the hospital and takes him off the chessboard for most of the game, but he's aware of Moshe and his friends as well as knowing what that means for the world. If only the medical establishment would let him get to work. His character is plenty interesting and I found myself grinning at the situations he found himself in.

The writing is crisp, nothing too flashy, but it's more enough to keep you reading. Sofer imbues his characters with a good deal of humanity, of hope. There's a splash of humor that helps a lot, too. I'm not sure why Moshe is so taken with his wife, but he is -- and you have to admire his dedication to her (and if we had some more time with her, I'd probably agree with him). The reaction he has to his daughter not recognizing him is hard to take. All of the resurrected are having difficulty fitting back in to the world -- especially when they try to fit in to their old lives -- and that's a very interesting thing to see play out.

I'm really uncomfortable about the subject matter -- it's one thing for McGuire or Hearne to pillage myths of the Tuatha Dé Danann or Riordan to pillage the Greek/Roman/Egyptian/Norse stories. But it's something very different for someone to utilize figures and beliefs of a religion like Judaism -- especially when it's not just beliefs, but utilizing actual figures from the religion for your own means seems to cross a line to me (and yes, I'd say the same about Christian fiction, for example). I'm not saying Sofer's wrong to do this, or that he does so with any measure of discernible disrespect, but I figured I have to throw up a warning.

If you can get past the use of the religious characters/events, I'd expect that you could like this one. I'm not sure I can get behind it, but it's good, I can tell you that.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for this post and my honest opinion -- my thanks to him for this.
Profile Image for Kevin Swaine.
1 review
March 14, 2017
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and the very realistic approach taken to what resurrection might actually be like. I thought the character development was excellent and I really got to know the many characters in the book. I really could not put the book down and cannot wait for the second book in the series to come out.
Profile Image for WiLoveBooks.
861 reviews57 followers
October 6, 2017
Wow. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book but the description sounded interesting so I thought I’d give it a try. I loved it. Once I started reading I couldn’t stop. A man wakes up in a cemetery and finds out that he died two years ago. Why is he back? What’s he going to do now? This book explores the Jewish religion, but at its core it’s a story about people. That’s what kept me reading. The pace was good and kept moving right alone, and the twists kept coming. I was satisfied with the ending but I can’t wait to read the next book. I want to find out more.
Profile Image for Linda Suchy.
5 reviews4 followers
March 22, 2017
I am loving the books coming from this local author (Dan Sofer living in Jerusalem). I live in Netanya, Israel. I could not put this book down and can hardly wait for the next in the series. The characters are so well-developed and easy to care about. I highly recommend Dan's books.
Profile Image for Valerie Campbell Ackroyd.
403 reviews6 followers
October 26, 2019
I had picked up a bundle of books for my Kindle app for traveling and as a result I started reading this one without knowing what the premise was, thinking it was some kind of murder mystery. Wow, the first chapter stunned me. Mystery it is but it isn't really a murder mystery. Moshe Kanin wakes up in Jerusalem after what he thinks was a heck of a 40th birthday bash to find out that, actually, he has been dead two years. He goes home to find his wife has taken up with his best friend and wants nothing to do with him although both she and the best friend recognize that he IS who he says he is. He then meets up with his rabbi who not only recognizes Moshe but believes that he could be part of the Resurrection and the Jewish Coming of the Messiah. I am not Jewish and my own church has its views of what the Second Coming will be so this book was doubly interesting--I learned more about the Jewish beliefs of the Messiah and I also started wondering what my own views really were.

Moshe soon learns he is not the only person to be resurrected and these folks' trials and how they deal with it--how can you get work if you are officially dead? how do you escape being taken advantage of?--form a large part of the book. As well as Moshe's efforts to win his wife back. There is also a sub-plot about a young man who believes he is Elijah, sent to bring on the Second Coming. Except that he messes up, winds up in the hospital and tries to convince a young woman to help him with his mission. This is the first book in a series and I am glad for that because that thread of the story is hanging at the end of the book.

I don't know who might like this book. I did because I found the story so out of the ordinary. But as I said, it isn't really a "mystery", it isn't a thriller, I can't quite put my finger on where it falls. Jewish folklore fable perhaps? I will definitely read the next book though because I want to find out about whether Eli, the young man who thought he was Elijah, returns to his mission and how the resurrections eventually get resolved (if they do.)
Profile Image for Debbie Young.
45 reviews2 followers
September 15, 2017
Interesting premise. A man "wakes up" in a cemetery 2 years after his death. More follow. the story takes place in Jerusalem and as it progresses we meet a Rabbi who risks everything to help the "resurrected", the Rabbincal Council who declares them evil and a syndicate that takes advantage of them.

The story builds nicely but falls off a cliff at the end with no clear answers. But, surprise, there is a sequel coming. Maybe then.....
Profile Image for Boundless Book Reviews.
2,242 reviews65 followers
February 14, 2018
This story holds true to its title! This kind of afterlife is much unexpected, and the unexpected continued throughout the entire story. It was hard for me to get into at first, but once I was in, I was hooked.  

I loved the uniqueness of this particular afterlife and the twists that kept me guessing.

Overall, I loved the book and felt it’s a good read. I give An Unexpected Afterlife: A Novel a strong 4 Boundless Stars. I only wish it would have captured my interest from the beginning.


Profile Image for Linda Zagon.
1,312 reviews98 followers
February 28, 2017

I would like to thank author Dan Sofer for an ARC of “The Unexpected Afterlife” by Don Sofer for an honest review.
The genres of this book are Fiction, Adventure, and Satire.
I find that the author has written a unique intriguing, and entertaining story.
I really like the way Dan Sofer describes his flawed characters who also seem complex and complicated.
The story opens at Mount of Olives Cemetery where Moshe Karlin awakes stark naked. Moshe is confused and makes his way home to find his wife and friend/business partner in bed. Avi his friend informs Moshe he has been dead for two years. His wife is screaming as if she has seen a ghost.
With no place to go Moshe finds Rabbi Yosef to understand what is going on. Rabbi Yosef had buried Moshe and now questions if this is indeed the” Resurrection of signs of a World to Come, a Spirit world after death.”
One can see the satire and humor when a Prophet is sent to spread the word, but tries to make a dramatic entrance to the cemetery and has an accident that sends him to the hospital.
The only thing that Moshe wants is his family back. It seems his friend Avi is planning to marry Moshes’ wife, and has destroyed his business.
Moshe’s second life isn’t going as easily as he thought it would. Moshe soon finds out that there are other characters who also have come back from the dead and have troubles adjusting.
In this second chance at life, there are many dangers. There is a Russian Mob, and Bureaucratic problems, the Great Council of Rabbi’s Decisions and more. Some of the families don’t want their newly alive relatives back.
I love the way that Dan Sofer describes the individuals, family, community, Jewish traditions, friends and hope. I also enjoyed the satire of their adventures.
I would highly recommend this entertaining book and hope to read more in this series.
Profile Image for Yael Shahar.
Author 4 books21 followers
July 16, 2018
Three times daily, we Jews praise God for “reviving the dead”. The thing is, no two Jews are likely to agree on what it means. Some, following the prophet Ezekiel, prefer to think of it in metaphorical terms—the resurrection of Jewish national life out of the ashes of the past. Others see it in more literal terms. I’ve tackled one interpretation of this enigmatic tradition in Returning. But Dan Sofer presents an altogether different—and utterly delightful—view of the rabbinic traditions surrounding the resurrection in An Unexpected Afterlife.

What if? he asks. What if Jews suddenly began waking up alone and naked in cemeteries all over Israel? The speculation is fleshed out (pardon the expression) in the character of Moshe Karlin, owner of a thriving taxi company who now finds himself the late Moshe Karlin.

Moshe quickly finds the afterlife isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. What is he to do about the fact that his wife has moved on, and is about to marry Moshe’s best friend (or should that be, former best friend?) Turns out, an Israel identity card stamped with “deceased” presents some thorny issues of its own.

Fortunately, Moshe isn’t alone. As more and more dead people begin reviving and demanding their rights, Moshe does what any good Israeli would do in his situation—he organizes them! As Moshe schemes to get his wife back, his colleagues at The Dry Bones Society canvas the cemeteries, ready to reintroduce the returnees into Israeli society.

But not everyone is happy about the resurrection. Moshe faces opposition from Israel’s religious establishment, who aren’t too happy with the fact that secular Jews are the first to revive. Meanwhile, the politicians view the newly revived as potential voters and scheme accordingly. Most ominous of all, a powerful crime syndicate has decided that Moshe’s Dry Bones Society is a threat to their racket.

An Unexpected Afterlife is an immanently Israeli book; the heroes and villains are people that you might meet at the Mahane Yehuda market or behind the wheel of any cab in Israel. The action takes place on the streets of Jerusalem, in settings familiar to anyone who has lived there for even a short time. The scenes are vividly drawn, so that even non-Israelis can enjoy the view, but locals will find plenty of visual and geographical inside jokes.

Having lived in Jerusalem in the late 1980s, I had to smile at the irony of the defunct shopping mall at Clal Center being resurrected as the headquarters of the Dry Bones Society, not to mention Elijah the Prophet squeezing olives in the designer kitchen of a penthouse off Jaffa Road.

Sofer follows his characters in their whimsical and unexpected adventures, as they strive to make sense of their odd situation. His prose is witty, at times poignant, and at times laugh-out-loud funny. But what makes this book especially engaging are the characters. Even the villains have a back story one can empathize with.

We meet Savta Sarah, a feisty survivor of Auschwitz who is the terror of the local shopkeepers:

The man behind the counter looked as though he had just rolled out of bed. He pulled at his crumpled T-shirt and straightened his toupee. He peered at the little old lady, and a cunning smile cracked his pockmarked face, the smile of a Tyrannosaurus rex scenting a wounded herbivore. “Today is my lucky day,” the smile seemed to say. Unbeknownst to him, a grandmother-sized asteroid hurtled toward the planet at dinosaur-extinction speed.

We meet Elija the Prophet sipping espresso on Emek Refaim while trying to keep a low profile. But keeping a low profile seems just as difficult for 21st century Elijah as it was in his biblical heyday. Thus, as he leaves his house to anoint the latest candidate for Messiah we find him tucking a vial of home-pressed olive oil in his bag, before mounting up in style:

In a parking garage beneath Jaffa Road, the Prophet pulled on a black leather jacket and a pair of matching riding gloves. The winged Harley Davidson emblem gleamed in the cool fluorescent light on the matte black chassis of the Sportster Iron 883. He kicked his leg over the decal of a fiery chariot on the rear fender and settled on the leather seat.

And we get to see Moshe Karlin come to terms with his situation with wry humor and a fundamental decency that comes out again and again in the book. Having nowhere to go when his wife and his ex-best-friend turn him out on the street, Moshe turns to a community rabbi, who does his best to help Moshe understand what has befallen him. Rabbi Lev knows just where to turn for explanations:

“A prophecy!” He fanned the pages of the Bible again, bouncing on the couch in excitement. “Isaiah, chapter twenty-six: ‘Your dead will live, their corpses rise. Awake and sing praise, you that dwell in the dust, for your dew is the dew of light…’”

A shudder ran down Moshe’s spine. The verse described a zombie apocalypse. Was he in the lead role? He had no desire to eat brains. He couldn’t even stomach a Jerusalem mixed grill.

Sofer’s characters live and breathe (again!) and pull us into their loves and dreams as they wend their sometimes hilarious way across the page toward their destinies. The book is so much fun that I didn’t want it to end. Fortunately, it didn’t! The story picks up in the next book, A Reluctant Messiah, and draws to its dramatic—and to my mind—satisfying conclusion in A Premature Apocalypse.

The entire series is a delightful read.
Profile Image for Vera mallard.
458 reviews11 followers
October 24, 2017
Moshe Karlin's life has taken an unusual turn. After waking up naked and alone in the Mount of Olives Cemetery, Moshe thinks it's the day after his birthday party. However, he finds two years have passed and unbelievably he was dead and buried. Unable to understand what has happened, he consults with his local advisor, Rabbi Yosef. Rabbi Yosef has a totally different take on Moshe's resurrection.

Moshe finds he has lost his wife to his best friend and business partner, lost his home, and the business he worked to build is failing. Meanwhile, as a mysterious prophet heads to the cemetery, everything changes in the blink of an eye; a man who think he's someone he could not possible be. Or could he?

Come with Moshe as he travels a road of enlightenment, danger, and controversy. My book reviews of An Unexpected Afterlife follows.

Dan Sofer created an original, tantalizing, and intriguing drama in An Unexpected Afterlife. Filled with interesting facts of the Jewish faith, I found myself enthralled. I have always wondered about the culture, practices, and worship of the Jewish religion; Sofer answered an array of my questions. With vivid descriptions and skillful prose, Sofer grabbed me immediately and did not let go.

Sofer introduced a tantalizing concept through Rabbi Yosef of the valley of dry bones, the Resurrection of the Dead, the Prophet Elijah, and revelation of the Messiah. If you are not familiar with Ezekiel 37, I partially quoted from the King James Version of the Bible below; for more extensive reading see the above chapter in the Bible or on the internet.

Quote from Rabbi Yosef

"Isaiah 26:19: Your dead will live, their corpses rise. Awake and sing praise, you that dwell in the dust for your dew is the dew of light...."

King James Version

Ezekiel 37: Verse 1 ....set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones. Verse 2 behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. Verse 5 ....Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live. Verse 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord. Verse 10 ....breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Verse 12 ....Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.

Dan Sofer included a cast of characters which he fully developed throughout the story. Every good story must have a villain. Sofer created a fine villain for this story; you will love to hate Avi. He's selfish, opportunistic, a grand liar, and much more; in other words he's a snake in the grass. Creating a story filled with one chaotic situation after another, I could not put this book down.

Including the Great Council of Torah Sage, gives the reader insight into the structure and hierarchy of the Jewish faith. Sofer also included bits of humor in this non-stop tale; Savta Sarah haggled just as I imagined an older Jewish woman would. As a result, I laughed and laughed. I wish I had her nerve.

The mysterious Irene and Arab Samira, gave a touch of mystery to the story. What is Samira's story and why can't Irene remember her former life? Are there others coming out of the grave? Sorry, I can only say, you will have to read the book to get the scoop.

I found Dan Sofer's writing flowed well and his scenes transitioned smoothly; making this an easy book to read. His characters are well-developed and the story well-written with excellent plotting. As well as, pacing which is perfect for the length of the book.

Including historical facts, religious references, and details of the Jewish faith, gave the story added dimension. Sofer's vivid descriptions allowed me to see the scenes in my mind's eye. The twists in the last third of the book are totally unexpected! The revelations, twists and turns, just kept coming and coming.

This book does not end on a cliff hanger. Rather, this is a complete story which leaves the door open for future books of Moshe and the risen's adventures. Whether you are Jewish, Christian, another faith, or non-religious, this book will capture your interest. Seen from the Jewish perspective, the Old Testament and the Prophet Elijah came alive for me. I found An Unexpected Afterlife intriguing, poignant, and original.

Closing my E-reader with a sigh of satisfaction, I had an immediate desire to read the next book. I can't wait to see what Sofer has in store for us. I would not hesitate to buy this book for myself or a friend.

An Unexpected Afterlife is my featured book of the month for Oct and Nov.

Additionally, I purchased this book and received a copy from the author. Furthermore, I chose to voluntarily review the book with honest book reviews. Lastly, book reviews of any novel are dependent on the book review author’s opinion. Consequently, all book reviews on-line and on my blog, are my opinions. In addition, ARC's do not influence my book reviews, nor does any one's opinion.
Profile Image for Ray Foy.
Author 12 books7 followers
February 17, 2018
I have problems with this book, yet it doesn’t suck. It is a technically well-crafted story in that dramatic arcs keep the tension building in all 68 chapters, but it contains themes and allusions that don’t sit well with me.

The premise of the story is that people are returning from the dead (which seems to be the de’jour plot device these days). They appear in cemeteries, naked (reborn; new start), with little or no memories of their deaths. Some remember their previous lives and some don’t. Moshe Karlin, an Israeli, is one of these returnees. He “awakens” in a field near the old section of Jerusalem. From there we follow his confusion and attempts to rationalize what is happening to him. When he discovers the truth of his resurrection, we follow his attempt to recover his previous life. In the process, he is helped and befriended by Rabbi Yosef, and makes friends with other resurrectees.

The story morphs into a thriller, with Moshe and his friends running from Russian slavers. Their plights are complicated by “terrorists” and suicide bombers. A love triangle even develops, though not all its members are aware of it.

The author, Dan Sofer, does know his dramatic structure and carries the reader along with the suspense of “what’s happening” until he reaches the thriller part. The plotline weakens there because it just doesn’t fit well enough with the story told to that point. It involves present day slavers and seems just another attempt to dump on the Russians. I’m seeing that a lot in current drama. I take it as the latest fad that I expect pleases our oligarchs. I don’t think there was as much of this even at the height of the first cold war.

There is a significant subplot that doesn’t really intercept with the main plot, but seems to be a foreshadow for later novels. It concerns a man who believes himself to be the prophet Elijah returned to Earth to herald the Messiah’s second coming. He’s been appearing throughout the centuries, but the Second Coming has always failed to launch for one reason or another. He runs into complications this time as well, including falling for a human. I actually found this subplot more interesting than the main story.

I also found it interesting to read a story set in current-day Jerusalem, showing it as a “livable” place. We see Jews and Arabs getting along at the common level below the political radar, and the story would have been better if Mr. Sofer had stayed with that. Instead, he moved into the political stereotypes that I suppose are required for patriotic Israeli storytelling. It’s probably much like patriotic American storytelling requires belief in “American exceptionalism.” I know many readers will take exception to my analysis here. If so, then enjoy the book, but this is how I see it.

An Unexpected Afterlife is a technically well-told story that held my interest for the most part, at least enough to finish it. Tension and suspense are kept high until it morphs into a thriller that mostly doesn’t work. In the end, it reveals itself as a Jewish religious piece. That’s not to pan it, however. If you like Jewish fiction you’ll probably like this, much as devout Christians often like Christian fiction. What I don’t care for, are the intimations of “crazy Arabs” with no consideration for their political positions (or acknowledgment that they have any). There’s also the depiction of Russians as mafiaosoes dealing in slaves and drugs (and basically everything evil). That’s not to say there’s no Russian mafia, but it smacks of reinforcing the current fad of Russians being the bad-guys-de’jour to support the neo-cold war being pushed on us.

My biggest problem with An Unexpected Afterlife is that it can’t decide what it wants to be: mystery, thriller, religious fiction? Elements of these genres are there and not well-blended. Mr. Sofer is a capable writer and his Dry Bones series seems to be successful. He’s just philosophically too far apart from me to earn any greater recommendation.
293 reviews4 followers
March 24, 2017
Splendid book. It's a valuable morality play. It brings it all home to me, to see how differently people choose to live their lives. The wonderful main character Moshe, discovers that what he originally thought was a perfect life, wasn't so perfect, and that he'd unknowingly wasted his first life and neglected what truly matters in life. After his incredible "rebirth," he slowly, painfully, but eventually, realizes where his priorities should have been the first time through his life. The rest of the book was a race to the finish, straightening up his past mistakes, in order to do the right thing in his second chance life, in order to be truly worthy, and deserve to reclaim his wife and child. It made it clear to me how some lives are enriched by having a second chance--called "a Mulligan," otherwise known as "a do over."

However, while some people learn from their mistakes, others aren't as lucky. Some people don't learn from their past lives, and are doomed to repeat the past, while other people are inherently bad and/or stupid, and continue making the wrong choices, the bad choices, heedless or any true moral compass that should have set them straight, and they wind up throwing away their second chance for a fresh new life, without reason, without any reservations, remorse, or feelings for their fellow human beings' lives.

Some lived such unremarkable lives that they simply can't recall the previous life, start out with a clean slate, and rise to the challenge beautifully to make their "do overs" meaningful.

Some people get it right the first time, and a second chance is their reward for a job well done, where they can simply continue their previous lives with family and friends who love and cherish them, while being aware of what a precious opportunity they've been given, and they manage to improve themselves even more, by offering aid to the people less fortunate than them, who need their help.

This is a beautiful story of morals and scruples, learning from past mistakes, continuous self-improvement, and making a difference in the world to help others.

There's a beautiful quote, that I don't know who wrote it, but it fits this story beautifully:

Isn't it strange that Princes and Kings,
And Clowns that caper in sawdust rings,
And Common People like You and Me,
Should be builders for an eternity.
Each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass,
A book of rules,
And Each must make 'ere life has flown,
A stumbling block,
Or a stepping stone.
--Author Unknown

I would say that sums up this story eloquently and completely. Will you be a part of the solution, or will you choose to be a part of the problem? We all start out with a clean slate, and from that point on, it's up to us what we choose to do with that slate, for better or worse. There's always going to be obstacles and problems, blessings and opportunities, but how you choose to overcome or use whatever you're given, is your choice and strictly up to you.

I would hope that you choose to make a valuable difference, and a significant contribution towards improvement of yourself, mankind, and your surroundings, to live meaningfully, completely self-aware, with purpose, and a love in your heart for God, and for your fellow human beings as well as all life forms, and Mother Earth.

Many sets of hands and pure hearts, working together to improve our world can create miracles. Let's leave the world a little bit better than it was before we got here, for our children, and for our children's children.
Profile Image for Kristin.
Author 1 book12 followers
May 9, 2018
Seems at first like a strange book for a Catholic to read, right? It was actually really intriguing and educational for me and I enjoyed it enough to really want to read the sequel (though not SO much that I’ve already read it)! I’m not sure whether a Jewish person would say the same, but I didn’t have any religious qualms with it (say, like how I won’t read Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code because I have no interest in reading what I consider to be blasphemous things about Christ). Rather, for me, the book served to educate me a bit on Jewish theology and thought.

When Moshe comes back from the dead he ends up staying at the home of a local Rabbi, who is convinced that Moshe (and others in his situation) herald the coming of the Messianic era. He says, “The Messianic Era. We believe that the End of Days will see the Resurrection of the Dead, the return of Elijah the Prophet, and the revelation of the Messiah-King, son of David.” (Loc 290) A lot of what the Rabbi then does, in terms of hosting Moshe, engaging with his Rabbinical colleagues/superiors, etc., assuming it is factually-based, sheds a lot of light on Jewish culture and religious organization – which, admittedly, I know little to nothing about.

I was struck by the similarities with Catholicism, though I’m not sure why – after all, Christ was Jewish and His Church descended from Judaism. I noted while I was reading that the Rabbi broke bread and gave it and wine to his guests, just as Christ did at the Last Supper. The Rabbi’s explanation of life after the Resurrection–at least in terms of the healing of the body–is very similar to Catholic teaching. I also noted that the explanation given for trust put in the “leading Rabbis of the generation” (Loc 2364) is strikingly similar to the Catholic Magisterium – we believe that the Holy Spirit guides the leaders of the Church to the right conclusions and therefore we trust in their authority.

There is a fascinating discussion by scientists in a hospital setting about having obtained “scientific proof” that all people descended from a single female. It would be fascinating if such proof actually existed! It was a great reminder, though, of science being part of mankind’s search to understand the world that God created, and that, therefore, no person of faith should ever fear science nor see science and religion as incompatible.

These are the lasting impressions I had of the book, but all of these insights gained were wrapped up in a compelling narrative with relatable, realistic characters. I was invested in Moshe’s survival and his efforts to win back his wife, as well as the life of the “reluctant prophet” described in the book blurb. I was also struck by the all-too-realistic exploitation of the resurectees (is that a word?) by criminal elements out to profit only themselves.

All this is to say: it’s an enjoyable and realistic read that also caused me to think and to learn, which is what I love in a book. It was entertaining AND edifying!

Four stars!

Many thanks to author Dan Sofer for providing a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Gayle Pace.
1,110 reviews21 followers
August 16, 2017
(You Only Live Twice?) I wasn't really sure if I would enjoy this or not but I'm glad I decided to read it. It's a mixture of characters who have a depth to them. They aren't simple characters. They are very complicated which makes them interesting. The author gives you characters that you want to understand and get to know. The characters are more realistic since they are far from perfect, they have their baggage. There are quite a few characters that are a support for each other. Moshe Karlin has been dead for about two years, yes dead, but he awakens and finds he is in Mount of Olives Cemetery, completely naked. He then finds his way to his home and his wife, but when he gets there, his wife and best friend are in bed together. Moshe finds himself alone, with no home, and no wife. So he seeks out the one who buried him, Rabbi Yosef hoping to get some answers. He now knows he will never have his wife back since she soon is to marry his best friend, or who was his best friend, and on top of that, his business is gone. He has nothing. Why has he returned from the dead? Moshe is given a second try at life and he certainly knows it won't be easy. But he realizes he hadn't made his first life meaningful, made some bad choices and didn't take to heart what was most important. He wants to make this second life better, but can he do that? But he soon finds that he isn't the only one who has returned from the dead. There are others. The author gives you interesting characters, each with their own personalities. You get a bit of the Russian Mob, problems in the city's government, suspense, mystery and a look at the beliefs and structure of Judaism. A variety of things that the author has molded together to bring a good story of hope. But there is also the struggle of coming back form the dead for a second chance at life. Adjusting is difficult. It all lies in how a person decides to live their life. Everyone chooses differently.

The book will tug at your heart strings, in both directions. Heart warming and heart breaking. Does everyone deserve a "do over" or a "Mulligan" better known as a second chance? Take time to read this book and decide if you would deserve or even want a "second chance". Would you learn from the mistakes in your first life and do things completely different in your second life.? Some would, some would not. Some would change the things they did wrong, the wrong choices. Some would throw away the second chance, probably as they did the first. Everyone has to make the choices that affect their lives by themselves at the end, no one can do it for you. If you choose wrong, it's on you, no one else. What would you do?

I received a copy of this book from the author and voluntarily decided to review it.

September 10, 2017
Complex, interesting characters in a most unusual situation. Moshe Karlin wakes up lying on the dirt in a cemetery, naked and alone, with no recollection of how he came to be there. Before long he learns the alarming truth: he died two years before.

Without going into the plot or the outcome, let me simply say that this novel grabbed my attention from the get-go with all its possibilities, and it was a great read. In addition to being highly creative in his premise, Sofer gives us humor and adventure as well as raising a number of questions. Among them: Would it really be so great to come back from the dead? If a deceased loved one suddenly came back into my life years later, would I believe it? How might it complicate my life and what would I do? Will true believers recognize and be ready to accept the End of Days when it begins? Are there people already among us who are more than they appear to be?

Throughout the action, the author brings modern-day Israel to life for those of us who have never been there, as well as providing interesting details about Jewish tradition, Judaism’s belief in the Resurrection of the Dead, and its anticipation of the End of Days. As one who enjoys novels that teach me something, as well as being well-written, well-edited, and well-proofread, I found this book to be pure joy and very satisfying entertainment.

This is Book One in a series called The Dry Bones Society. As such, it left a number of questions open in preparation for Book Two. With that in mind, I’m able to accept the fact that one character – who may or may not be the prophet Elijah – remained a mystery to me at the end. Moshe’s story – at least for the moment -- was resolved well enough, and I hope that future books will tell us more about the fates of his fellow resurrectees.
Profile Image for Gordon Long.
Author 26 books33 followers
October 22, 2017
A new twist on an old plot: what would you do if you woke up and found out you were dead? Would you take it as a chance to start over, or would you make a desperate attempt to get back what you lost? Moshe Karlin is given this opportunity, but despite the promise of the title, the results are pretty predictable. He decides to take up where he left off two years ago and everything falls apart from that point. If nothing goes wrong, where’s the fun?

The fascinating part of this novel, though, is not what happens, but where it happens. Soper has decided to set this spiritual rebirth in the world centre of resurrection, Jerusalem.

Thus the story is rendered much more entertaining and meaningful by the setting. Place this plotline in any culture in the world (many fantasy writers have) and it will work. But nowhere better than the rich historical, religious, and social background of the Jewish/Israeli culture of Jerusalem. Soper’s carefully delineated setting is closely integrated with the plotline and the spiritual, personal, and cultural conflict necessary for the story to work.

Characters are likewise modern, individualistic takeoffs on archetypes: the poor but honest rabbi, the mysterious amnesiac, the over-worked businessman who ignores his family, the biblical prophet who rides a Harley, and the amusing list goes on.

A minor flaw; although all of this makes for an entertaining read, there is a slight humorous distance set between the reader and any close emotional connection to the characters. We love how it’s all happening, but we don’t love anyone quite enough to be overly concerned how his or her fate turns out.

Recommended for all fantasy fans, Israelis, and modern Jewish scholars. The latter two might appreciate a different look from inside their culture. The first will just enjoy a fun read.
Profile Image for Puspanjalee Dutta.
Author 4 books
November 1, 2017
AN UNEXPECTED AFTERLIFE by Dan Sofer is the first book of the Dry Bones Society. It chronicles the journey of Moshe Larkin after he found in unfavorable conditions.
Moshe is back from death only to find that his wife is living with his best friend, forgotten by his daughter, a bankrupt business, no money, no food, no shelter and above all, no identify at all.
In his journey to get back his own life, Moshe makes some unexpected undead friends, found alias with a Rabi and some narrow escape from slavery.
There is another story which was interwoven but yet to link itself with the journey of Moshe. Prophet or no prophet, Eli Katz must explore his own world and determine whether he want to be mortal or the hopeless Prophet. His accident has led him to a dead end and he has to rely his nurse to get out of it.
But the story that I wanted to know was of Irina. Back from death, Irina has no memory at all, not even her name. I would love to read a good backstory on her.
The dillema of Rabi Yosef, to make something good and the pull of the beliefs he was nurturing for long, I would love to see how his story unfolds in the next book. It is his part which pushed me to study through the mazes of Jewish beliefs.
The story was fluid like a river but at someplaces, I was bored by the narrative. The self pity Moshe had for himself was little monotonous and boring.
Editing and the lay outs of the book was superb making it one of the best books I read in 2017.
I would like to mention one point that if you are familiar with Israeli culture and Jewish beliefs, the book is a smooth read. But if you are relatively new to the Jewish culture and beliefs, it will take time to stop reading and Google things to have a better perspective.
Profile Image for Julia.
2,363 reviews61 followers
August 26, 2017
An Unexpected Afterlifeby Dan Sofer is a novel set in Israel and concerns the end times. As the reader begins to ask questions, they are drawn into the story from the start.
Dan Sofer writes with an easy style that is endearing to the reader. With comprehensive descriptions, the reader 'experiences' life in Israel and is completely caught up in the action.
I thought it was a very clever plotline which reminded me of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel.
The novel prompted questions from me - what is heaven? What is hell? Hell, as portrayed in the novel, is a very real place that no-one would willingly go to. It reminded me that we all have a choice - will we follow Jesus? Our eternal destination depends on us. I was also reminded of the biblical passage where Jesus talks about the sheep and the goats.
The novel has the themes of jealousy and revenge. Jealousy is unwarranted and causes much pain. Jealousy destroys us from the inside out and leaves us with a heart of stone.
The novel is also about second chances and new beginnings. How wonderful if we all had the opportunity to right the wrongs of our past.
Friendship is important. It links with hospitality - sometimes given willingly, sometimes grudgingly.
There is the theme of pay it forward - because of the actions of our fathers, we may receive blessings.
An Unexpected Afterlife was an easy read. It's clever storyline made the reader think, ask questions and examine their own life. With likable characters, An Unexpected Afterlife was a great read. I loved it. It would make a fabulous film.
I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.

Profile Image for Wall-to-wall books - wendy.
938 reviews22 followers
October 17, 2017
4.5 Stars!

What a fantastic, crazy ride that was. This book made me smile. It was a fun and very interesting story. There are so many ways to describe this book and they all contradict each other. Can a Biblical book that is based on history be fantasy or somewhat paranormal? But that's what is was really. Well whatever words you use to describe it - it was great!

It takes place in Jerusalem and is full of history and Jewish tradition. Great characters with excellent character development. There's Moshe who died two years ago. The first thing on his list after resurrection - getting his wife back from his ex-best friend. Then there's Rabbi Yosef, a very kind man who takes in all the misfit resurrectee's (is that a word?). And then my personal favorite - Eli Katz, aka the Prophet Elijah! Ha! loved him. He was very good looking. At least all the nurses thought so after his freak accident landed him in the hospital. I could have read a whole book just about him. There are a lot of other minor characters that are equally as great.

There's some suspense, a little mystery and even a few heartfelt moments, but what makes it are those unexpected, unexplainable things. A great mix for a great book. I can honestly say I have not read another book like this. I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the series - An Accidental Messiah.

I don't think it matters what your personal beliefs are - just read it for entertainment.

I voluntarily posted this review after receiving a copy of this book from the author ~ Thank You!
Profile Image for Teresa Collins.
711 reviews6 followers
October 10, 2017
I am not sure what I was expecting, even after having read the book description, but this story wasn't it. I guess I expected more fantasy and mysticism and difficult to understand religious ceremonies. Instead, what I got was a truly lovely story; a fantasy I must admit from my point of view because that's not what Revelation in my Bible says will happen when the Messiah returns. However, overlooking the differences in the religious thought; the characters were so well developed that I came to care about them. I wanted them to find their way back to their old lives and old loves and resume some sort of normal life. Mr Sofer was able to infuse all of the main characters with such a feeling of humanism that I found myself pulling for them and hoping that the troubles they have discovered could be quickly resolved and they could resume some type of normal life. That remains to be seen. I have just started the second book and I am anxious to find out what happens next. I received a free copy of this story from the author at my request and this is my honest review.
Profile Image for Keith.
422 reviews195 followers
December 11, 2020
This self-published series was recommended by an old friend and former housemate with whom I share strongly overlapping taste in fiction, and his call was right again. The pacing here is pretty good, and the plot, while necessarily obvious in a few spots, twists enough to keep me guessing. I am perhaps not quite as Jewish as the true target demographic, but I have enough understanding of the history of Jerusalem, Torah, Qabalah, and Orthodox Judaism to follow along, and of course he provides enough explanation for the goyim to pick up on the subtleties where they are essential. (Note that most of the characters are pretty secular, modern, typical inhabitants of Jerusalem, but given the "end of days" conceit of the story, Orthodoxy does factor in, particularly through the eyes of the protagonist's rabbi neighbor.)

Looking forward to the next installment, though I want to wrap some other things up for my woeful performance on this year's Reading Challenge before that clock runs out first.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Hatcher.
Author 1 book7 followers
July 12, 2017
The book rates five stars on originality which is tricky for a story that falls into the time -travel genre. The bureaucratic overtones give great irony - though they probably make the book enjoyable only to adults. Sofer appears to poke fun at religion generally by hinting that mortals, with their myriad rules, haven't too much of a clue about a hereafter. Not being Jewish, I have the suspicion that there may be a good amount of subtle humor that I have missed as well.

Though the title is enticing, it would not appeal to teens. The sub-plots make a great story. However, Sofer puts a bit too much description into each paragraph, consequently slowing the pace of the book excessively. Nevertheless, serious, dour religion has a strangle-hold on too much of civilization, and we need a few more books like Sofer's.
Profile Image for Rachelle Poblete.
3 reviews62 followers
October 23, 2017
Full review in our blog:


Writing was wonderful - the plot was fresh and the pace was good. The author’s way of describing anything and everything is very clear. The novel was set in Israel and I have gotten a glimpse of their culture, beliefs and places through this book. The characters were also well written, with their own flaws and emotional baggage. It was very easy to empathize with them. I also like the occasional insert of humor in its pages.

An Unexpected Afterlife is the first book of The Dry Bones Society series. I just got the copy of the sequel, An Accidental Messiah and I'm excited to start reading it!

With a very unique premise, An Unexpected Afterlife gives us a wonderful tale with a mix of mystery, humor and love that will surely tug at your heartstrings!
9 reviews2 followers
August 25, 2018
Absolutely the best book I have read this year, maybe decade. An unexpected and thoroughly satisfying conclusion to The Dry Bones Society journey. I give this book 5 Stars (because they do not have Ten Stars option).
While I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion, I have also purchased it. This book (and series) have earned top billing in my library and I have recommended it to everyone I know..
It is filled with everything you could want in a book, intrigue, action, suspense, good vs. evil, rich symbolism, twists and turns, mystery and adventure everywhere. Great character development. Wonderful descriptions of locations. A Premature Apocalypse is a powerful ending to DBS Worthy of re-reading the series again, savoring this literary feast Dan Sofer has presented.
For best understanding and enjoyment, be sure to read the books in order .
34 reviews
September 16, 2019
Love this book

I just love this book and can't wait to read the next one in the series. It's the kind of book that poses the question, "what if?" And then proceeds to answer it in a wonderfully entertaining way.

The writing is excellent and I didn't have any of my usual aggravating moments when I run across an awkward sentence or a typo. It is professionally written and edited, so it's smooth reading. And delightful!

I read An Unexpected Afterlife quickly because I couldn't put it down. There are so many loveable characters and it's such a good story. I will begin right away to read the next in the series, although I should break for a bit, perhaps, and do something besides read. I know I'll have my nose again stuck over my Kindle if I immediately start the second book of the Dry Bones Society series.
Profile Image for Samantha Henthorn.
Author 12 books47 followers
November 30, 2018
What a lovely book. Moshe wakes up after what he thought was his fortieth birthday party. Unfortunately he was very much mistaken and soon realises he has walked into an unexpected afterlife. It is two years later, everything has changed his wife is now in a relationship with his best friend, and his daughter doesn't recognise him. A Rabbi comes to his rescue and he discovers he is not alone, he died but has been resurrected without a navel, as have the other members of the dry bones society. There is another character, a man who wakes from a motorbike crash and thinks he is the prophet Elijah - he might be! This is a story of a miracle set in Jerusalem, some parts funny in a make-you-smile way.
Profile Image for Amy Shannon.
Author 100 books120 followers
October 22, 2017
Unexpected, indeed!

This story draws the reader in immediately, and gives them resurrection and the afterlife, right away. Read this book with your eyes wide open, even if you wish to squint or hide slightly. This story is intense, but emits a certain humor, dark or otherwise. An intriguing story that keeps you turning the page, and sometimes you may have to reread a page, a paragraph, or just a simple sentence just to make sure you got it right. Have faith or uncertain about the afterlife, this may not set you straight, but it will entertain you and intrigue you.
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