Review of Richard Parks' Hereafter, and After
Jake Hallman is a dead accountant, and the afterlife's latest arrival, appearing at the start of the Golden Road to Heaven. Brendan, his own personal guide angel awaits him. Jake soon non-plusses Brendan however, when he questions the need to actually make the journey - can Brendan force him to go? With this simple revelation Jake becomes a Free Soul.
As a Free Soul he begins to realise certain truths about the afterlife, and of the nature of the gods. Although such occurrences are rare, heaven has a mechanism to track them, and Jake finds himself from time to time in front of The Accountant, the being responsible for keeping score.
Jake follows his own path, a ghostly free agent. He visits Valhalla where he discovers that hearing tales of even the most heroic and perilous adventures grows dull after an eternity of retelling, and the gods are bored. He teams up with a former Valkyrie and visits Hel, and all the time continues to see the truths about existence.
This book is wonderfully irreverent. It takes a swipe at the old myths, and our beliefs of life after death. It lines up wonderfully bizarre encounters as angels, demons, gods and mythical heroes, even the mistress of Hel all come face to face with an accountant.
And it knows when to stop. This is not an idea for a 500-page book, or a trilogy of such books. The almost surreal, off-kilter feel of this works perfectly as a novella. It's a wonderful stress reliever of a book.
Released March 2007
PS Publishing =http://www.pspublishing.co.uk