Haunted by memories of her murdered twin, Keely Morrison is convinced suicide is her only ticket to eternal peace.
But in death, she discovers the afterlife is nothing like she expected. Instead of peaceful oblivion or a joyful reunion with her sister, Keely is trapped in a netherworld on Earth with only a bounty-hunting reaper and a sarcastic demon to show her the ropes.
When the demon offers Keely her ultimate temptation--revenge on her sister's killer--she must determine who she can trust. Because, as Keely soon learns, the reaper and demon have been keeping secrets and she fears the worst is true--that her every decision changes how, and with whom, she spends eternity.
Today we have the first chapter of DFTR + our Review. We hope you enjoy the first chapter and get hooked like we did, the book is beyond awesome. Just the right amount of dark and mysterious to keep you on your toes... So here is the first Chapter!
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for they are with me.
I repeated my version of the psalm as I watched the ribbon of blood drift from my wrist. I’d hoped it would be a distraction—something to stop me from wondering what my sister’s dying thoughts had been. Exhaling slowly, I let the emptiness consume me.
Jordan had kept my secrets and I had kept hers. In the end, it came down to just one secret between us that took her life. Now, it would take mine. I should have said something, but nothing I said or did now could bring her back or make anyone understand what she meant to me.
Are you here, Jordan? Are you with me? Tell me about heaven...
I told myself Jordan was gone, never coming back, but her memories continued to haunt me. I had no idea if there even was an afterlife. If God existed, I was convinced he had given up on me. Not once did I sense he’d heard a single one of my prayers. I wasn’t asking for the world—I only wanted to know if my sister was safe and at peace. What was so hard about that?
She should still be here. It wasn’t fair.
I’d been the difficult one—much more than Jordan. For a while, I’d even gotten into drugs. Mom and Dad had worried I’d get Jordan into drugs, too. But I wouldn’t. Not ever. Besides, that part of my life had been over long before Jordan’s death. A small gargoyle tattoo on my left shoulder was all that remained of my previous lifestyle.
Mom and Dad started treating me differently after Jordan’s funeral two months ago. She and I were twins, so I understood how hard it was for them to look at me and not see her. Sometimes, they wouldn’t look at me at all. Mom went to the psychiatrist, but no one asked if I needed to talk to someone about what happened. No one asked if I needed sleeping pills or antidepressants. Yeah, sure. Don’t give the former addict pills of any sort.
Not one person saw the all-consuming suffering that gnawed at my soul. Why couldn’t anyone see? Jordan had been more than my sister—she’d been my Samson, my strength. I would have done anything for her, and yet, I’d failed her. I wasn’t the one who’d killed her, but I might as well have been. How could I ever live with that? My heart had a stillness to it since her death.
I shall fear no evil.
I couldn’t very well recite the first part of Psalm 23 because it said I shall not want, and I did want. I wanted to go back in time. I wanted my sister back. Clearly, goodness and mercy were never going to be part of my life ever again. In my mind, I saw myself walking through the iron gates of hell with demons cackling gleefully all around.
I didn’t want to die. Not really. I was just tired and didn’t know of another way to stop the pain. Doctors removed a bad appendix. Dentists pulled rotten teeth. What was I supposed to do when my very essence hurt, when the cancer I’d come to call depression made every decent memory agonizingly unbearable?
Before I’d gotten down to cutting my wrist (I managed to only cut one), I’d taken a few swigs of Dad’s tequila—the good kind he kept in the basement freezer. I’d used another swig or two to chase down the remainder of Mom’s sleeping pills in the event I failed to hit an artery or vein. Then I’d set the bottle on the ledge of the tub in case I needed further liquid encouragement. Instead of using a knife or a razor, I attached a cutting blade to my Dad’s Dremel. The Dremel was faster, I reasoned. More efficient.
It would have been easier to OD, I suppose. But I felt closer to my sister this way, to suffer as she’d suffered.
I recited the line from Psalms 23 again. It had become my personal mantra.
The words resonated in my parents’ oversized bathroom. I’d chosen theirs because the Jacuzzi tub was larger than the tub in the hall bathroom. Jordan and I used to take bubble baths together in this same tub when we were little.
Innocence felt like a lifetime ago. I searched the bathroom for bubble bath but came up short. Soap might have made the laceration hurt more so it was probably just as well. Besides, the crimson streaming from my wrist like watercolor on silk was oddly mesmerizing.
The loneliness inside proved unrelenting, and the line from the psalms made me feel better. I prayed for the agony inside me to stop. I argued with God. Pleaded. But after all was said and done, I just wanted the darkness to call me home.
I tried not to think of who would find my body or who’d read the note I’d left. I blamed myself not only for failing Jordan, but for failing my parents, too.
My lifeline to this existence continued to bleed out into the warm water. Killing myself had been harder than I’d imagined. I hadn’t anticipated the searing fire racing through my veins. I reached for the tequila with my good arm but couldn’t quite manage. Tears welled in my eyes.
Part of me foolishly felt Jordan was here. The other part feared she wasn’t.
Give me a sign, Sis. Just one.
I imagined seeing my parents at my funeral—their gaunt faces, red-eyed and sleepless. How could I do this to them? Wasn’t the devastation of losing one child enough?
No. Stop. A voice in my head screamed. Don’t do this. Don’t. Please...
I shifted my body, attempted to get my uncooperative legs under me. I could see the phone on my parents’ nightstand. I could make it that far. Had to. The voice was right. I didn’t want to do this. I felt disorientated, dizzy. Darkness crept along the edges of my vision. Focusing became difficult. A sweeping shadow of black caught my attention. Someone stood in the bathroom—not my sister. A man. Had I managed to call 911? I couldn’t remember getting out of the tub. And why’d I get back in? Did I use a towel?
Mom is going to be pissed when she sees the blood I’ve tracked all over the bedroom carpet.
“I’m sorry,” I told the man in black.
“It’s okay, Keely. Don’t be afraid.” Not my father’s voice. It was softer, with a hint of sorrow. Distant. Fleeting. Later, I’d feel embarrassed about this, but for now I was safe from the nothing I’d almost become. My teeth clattered from the chill. My eyelids fluttered in time with my breaths. The tub water had turned the color of port wine. The ribbons, the pretty, red watercolor ribbons were gone.
Dull gray clouded my sight.
A voice whispered to me, and my consciousness floated to the surface again.
Cold. So cold.
“I’m right here.”
There was no fear in me as the man bent forward, his face inches from mine. He was my father’s age, and yet strangely older. His eyes were so...blue, almost iridescent. The irises were rimmed in a fine line of black, and the creases etched at the corners reminded me of sunbeams as he gave me a weak smile. The oddly. Dressed. Paramedic. A warm hand reached into the water and cradled mine. My fingers clutched his. I sighed, feeling myself floating, drifting. Light—high and intense exploded before me. No! Too much. Too much! I shuddered and labored to catch my breath, but it wouldn’t come.
Finally, the comfort of darkness rose to greet me.
“I didn’t want to die. Not really. I was just tired and
didn’t know of another way to stop the pain.”
So if you don’t know already this book is about suicide. I love when an author can take a controversial subject and write about it beautifully. I see a lot of myself in Keely. I’m sure you are wondering why right? Well I’ll tell you because suicide isn’t a joke and don’t always believe what you hear or pass judgment onto those who are at that level. Though my circumstances were different than Keely, I’ve been that low before. About 10 years ago I was going through some massive issues and I attempted suicide. I was convinced that was the only way to escape everything. Like Keely the death of her twin hit her hard and well with some added push that you will find out when you read DFTR went through with it.
“It was easier to appear strong than to show my feelings,
even when things began to crumble around me.”
You don’t really appreciate life unless something major happens and sometimes it’s too late. Which is what happened to Keely, but now all she wanted to do was find her twin. Apparently it’s a sin to kill yourself so Keely’s soul is up on trial because Banning’s. Whose Banning’s you might ask? Well he’s this really awesome, like seriously bad-assed Reaper. Not the welcoming committee Keely was expecting, but a start to an amazing journey she has to go through. Then there’s Daniel. Daniel is a demon and I have to say I’m kind of intrigued by him. I want to know his story and I hope we see more into him in the next book. We get a glimpse into Banning and you can’t help but feel the fatherness rolling off of him. Yes I know fatherness isn’t a word but well that’s how I describe Banning because he’s like the afterlife father figure to Keely.
One thing that draws me to an author that will make me pick up any book they write is the words itself. You can read many books but it’s the books that captivate your mind that leave a lasting impression. Words are able to create an image. Those images are then turned into a movie; well they are to me at least. It’s the way I connect to the characters, but you can’t do that when someone doesn’t know how to capture your mind in the way needed to form those images. I’ll give you an example on how I was fully submersed into this story by 19% in
“Just the powder blue skyline with a whisper thin moon that hinted at the coming darkness”
Do you see how much more beautiful that is then saying twilight or dusk? The poetic flow of those words had me picturing what Keely was seeing, what she was feeling when she was in that room looking out the window. The feeling of hopelessness that what you really want isn’t going to happen. As I’ve said before, only truly great writers can have you, the reader, feeling what they felt when they wrote the story, what the character was feeling as it was living it. Things start getting a little more intense when Keely finds out how, well why she’s not getting carted off to hell with Daniel. Banning’s trying to redeem her soul while Daniel was sent to make sure she fails. Talk about having an angel and devil on your shoulder right? Ok so not funny, but Michelle was still able to keep the humor in the story and as often as I found myself tearing up, I was also laughing.
“There should have been a joke in there somewhere about a reaper, an earthbound, and a demon crossing the road. The punch like seemed equally stupid, but had a weird twist on words-- to get to the other side. I almost laughed.”
Well I did, I laughed hard. I really liked Keely and Jordan. You meet Jordan when they find each other and both want to do whatever it takes to get the other to heaven and out of purgatory. Which is where things go all crazy and the demon is not so demonic maybe? You’ll have to see what happens. The book is seriously amazing. Like SERIOUSLY. I hope the next book has a little Daniel and Keely action. I have a feeling there’s more going on than we see in DFTR. I know Keely was in love with Miles, her on and off again boyfriend, but I can definitely see something going on with Daniel, I mean he kind of defied his orders! If you want to know what I’m talking about go buy Don’t Fear the Reaper right now and find out for yourself!
So I leave you with this to ponder, another quote from Michelle Muto and this awesome book, because well I had too many to fit into this one review without making it insanely huge!
“Happiness, even in death, is what we make it.”
Ok and maybe one more because well, I can’t help myself.
“And as for hope?” he said. “You make your own. If
you believe enough in something you make hope possible.”
Ok that is all my lovely peeps! Leave comments if you’ve read DFTR and let us know what you thought about it!
I wasn't sure what to expect from Don't Fear the Reaper, but I enjoyed it very much. Keely is a girl who is depressed. She's lost her twin sister and doesn't seem to want to go on. She sets up a plan to end her life. She succeeds but doesn't think she does, until a reaper and a demon prove her wrong. Keely realizes that death wasn't the answer as she is now stuck in purgatory with Banning the reaper and Daniel the demon. Banning has made a deal that if Keely messes up and goes to hell then so does he. So she gets pal around with Banning and Daniel for a few days. I was on an emotional ride with keely. They are looking for her sister Jordan, who hasn't passed on. We get to see how her sister died, and the weirdo Pete behind it. What happens when the temptation to Kill Pete is put on Keely? Banning and Daniel work together to help her. I must say I really liked Daniel. I sorta wished something would happen between him and Keely. Ya, I know they are dead lol.
What happens to Keely in the end will surprise you.
Michelle Muto created a dark story that was both funny and serious at the same time. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to the next.
About the Author
Michelle has always loved storytelling. When she was a child, her favorite stories were of monsters and things that lurked in the dark. Telling stories often frightened her classmates and got her into a lot of trouble with her teachers. They had no sense of humor.
As an adult, Michelle traded her love of writing for the corporate life where she was an IT professional. Today, she’s doing what she loves best – writing and storytelling.
Michelle grew up in Chicago, but currently lives in NE Georgia with her husband and their two dogs, one of which is a Beezlepup. She loves scary books, funny movies, sports cars, dogs, chocolate, old cemeteries, and changes of season. Michelle even loves photography. One day, maybe she’ll upload a better photo – one that wasn’t taken in late afternoon with Photobooth. Or, maybe not.
Michelle writes on a Mac and is a true geek at heart. She agrees with her dogs who think cheese and bacon should be in their own food group. But most of all, she believes everyone should trust their imagination, have a kind heart, and should definitely have a sense of humor.
Links to Stalk Michelle Muto: