Lloyd Alexander once said that “Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It's a way of understanding it.” This autumn’s crop of fantasy novels give both a bit of escape and insight while mixing them with magic, adventure and of course, romance.
The Ferryman Institute by Colin Gigl has been hailed as a “stunning, fantastical debut novel.” In Greek mythology, the souls of the dead are rowed across the rivers Styx and Acheron, bodies of water that divide the world of the living from that of the beyond, by the ferryman Charon (aka Kharon). In this exciting novel, reminiscent of the comic books Rest in Peace Department by Peter M. Lenkov, Charlie Dawson is a ferryman. He helps the living cross to whatever is awaiting them on the other side. He’s the best there is but he has been at this a long, long time and is frankly burned out. Unfortunately, the afterlife doesn’t come with more career opportunities! Then Charlie keeps Alice Spiegel from killing herself and realizes that the afterlife can come complete with romance:
She interrupted him with a kiss. It wasn’t even remotely close to a good one: it was too short, she didn’t meet his mouth flush on, his eyes were still open, and his lips were still moving as he tried to speak. Frankly, she didn’t care.
There was something special about the way Charlie spoke, something Alice had trouble pinning down. Maybe it wasn’t one thing, necessarily, but some combination that when blended together exceeded the sum of its parts. There existed a spellbinding cadence in his words – yes, spellbinding, that was the right word, because what was it if not magic?- and understated rhythm that undressed the world, exposed it as nothing more than an illusion. He was the magician in reverse, the man who demonstrated with a flourish that his act was real – it was her pain and suffering, her reality that was the cheap trick she’d failed to see through.
His voice enveloped her in a tapestry of woven words while his eyes orchestrated the ebb and flow of his inflection, a conductor flicking the baton in seemingly careless strokes, yet driving a masterful symphony with them. Though doubt and fear and sadness all lingered in the back alleys of her psyche, his voice bore her back in time, back to when she was child capable of believing in impossible things. And in the dying moments of that first kiss, Alice believed in them anew.