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Death sucks, but there’s good beer in Purgatory.
Alice and her adult daughter, Claire, created a “bucket list” of thirteen experiences they would seek out before Alice died from cancer. They never expected to die in a plane crash attempting to cross off number three. Now, mother and daughter are stuck in the underworld, unable to move on to their ultimate destiny until they finish the list, but finding an Irish Pub near the Fields of Asphodel, or swimming naked in the ocean while being pursued by bloodthirsty Aztecs and a smitten Egyptian god is as hard as it sounds. When everything they ever thought they knew is challenged, will faith be enough to carry them through?
A LIST OF 13 moves between the time after Alice’s death and the time before, allowing the reader to explore the way her relationships evolve and intertwine throughout her life and beyond.
I received a free reading copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to E.A. Comiskey and Nuff Said Publishing for the reading & reviewing opportunity.
Rating: 2 stars
Here’s the thing about me and this novel…
I got the request for this whenever I had just finished ready the PJO series. I was still really into mythology (when am I not??) and I was super excited to check out another book that had the Fields of Asphodel, and even excited to see what other kinds of “afterlife” theories that the author would include.
And, admittedly, the book does have some really intriguing settings. I really liked the premise of this book: a mother/daughter pair traveling through the underworld and trying to finish their bucket list as their “unfinished business”. I’ve literally never heard of a similar story and I think that it’s extremely unique and fun. I also really enjoyed how each setting was kind of… toned down. For example, if you know mythology, then you’ve heard of Cerebrus. In List of 13, he’s just a little three headed pup. Hades is just a man. I liked that Comiskey made things less overwhelming in that way.
However… I was really thrown off by the way that the story actually plays out.
First: The mother/daughter dynamic. I quite obviously cannot speak for every mother/daughter pair but this was an extremely hard relationship to enjoy. I felt like the dialogue between the two was a bit unrealistic and the way they interact was just… off. To me, anyways. *Spoiler* Example: The daughter literally kisses Hades seconds after finding out that they are dead as a revenge tactic against her mother who… slept with a “carnie” (Claire’s words, not mine).
Second: The pacing. I had a really hard time deciding how I felt about this because the author specifically sets it all up so that there is no passing of time (at least the way that we experience time on Earth). In that sense, I guess that you can’t technically say that things are rushed but… they are really rushed. The ending of this was quite predictable for me but I still was not expecting it to happen as fast as it did.
Third: The steady biblical references. I had literally no idea that this would be as religious as it turned out to be? I mean, it plays into the story, sure, but I was entirely unprepared for it. If you’re comfortable with books with heavy religious talk in it, I’d definitely recommend this one to you. It’s just not really my cup of tea. That’s of course a personal reference of mine so I decided not to hold it against the book’s rating, but it is something to keep in mind.
Lastly: The development. This was touch and go for me because I liked that the author gave us glimpses into the past to add context to the story when necessary, but the characters themselves would’ve been strengthened a lot with a little more detail to them. Claire was basically just angry and bullheaded and Alice felt like a submissive doormat to me. Neither were awful, but both could’ve been improved upon.
Overall, this was just unfortunately not for me. I think that there are plenty of people who would enjoy this kind of story (actually I know it because most people who have rated this on Goodreads appear to like it), and I encourage you to check it out if you think you’d be one of them! It fell short for me, but everyone reads the same book differently.