The Ferryman Institute by Colin Gigl (book review).

October 14, 2016 | By | Reply More

It’s tough being part of ‘The Ferryman Institute’ and Charlie Dawson is finding his job particularly onerous. As he is one of the most successful ferrymen, he takes on too much and is rapidly burning out. He is affected very much by the suicides and having to stand by without intervening. He spends his spare time escaping from practising jumping off cliffs to see whether he might finally die, not quite seeing the irony in that. Being a ferryman means death is not an option as his job is persuading others to move on when they’ve shuffled off their own mortal coil.


This is bad enough but things are going to get worse as Charlie, who is already wrestling with eternity, finds he is offered an even worse choice: free will! When he comes to a point where he can elect to save a suicidal girl that’s when it gets complicated. Suddenly eternity is looking rather short to sort this out. Alice Spiegel wants to be dead, she really does, but Charlie throws an eternal spanner in the works and then she’s on the run. There is nowhere to turn and Charlie’s two hundred and fifty years of everlasting life don’t seem to be much use in the real world.

Eminently readable and very funny, this book fits into the whacky genre of something alternate with a side of charm. If you find someone jumping off cliffs to see if he can break his immortality alongside every bone in his body, then this is for you. I think the sub-plot with the Inspector who is out to get Charlie gets a little convoluted and, for some reason, I was getting vibes of ‘Les Miserables’, maybe because the Inspector is called Javrouche and he is just as persistent as Javere but it still a fun book with a few twists and turns that keep you guessing.

The realms of the undead have proved fertile for writers. A few years back, the TV series ‘Dead Like Me’ featured undead Reapers who reaped the souls of the dying to save them pain. It was funny and charming and this is, too, as another take on the sort of ‘people’ who might guide us into the afterlife. The fascination for the hereafter in a population that is generally secular does not seem to have abated and if that isn’t ironic I don’t know what is.

The publisher has compared it to Jasper Fforde and I’d agree that this a good benchmark for this kind of book which looks sideways at life and, of course, death. I like this sort of book that makes you think and laugh at the same time and check the corners of the room for the immortal invisible.

Sue Davies

October 2016

(pub: Simon & Schuster, USA. 384 page paperback. Price: £12.35 (UK). ISBN: 978-10112-532-4

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Category: Books, Fantasy

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