“What do you get when a narcissistic megalomaniac plagued by daddy issues leads a horde of angry zealots, xenophobes, and ornery incels on a crusade to Make the Afterlife Great Again?” So starts the jacket blurb on Randal Graham’s latest installment of the Beforelife series, Nether Regions. And what you get is a hilariously thought-provoking romp of a book in the finest tradition of Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams, and Terry Pratchett.
Ian Brown is an extraordinarily average man living his best afterlife with his powerful and beautiful wife, Penelope, and about to celebrate the fifth birthday of their conceived-in-the-afterlife son, a being whose power will soon be revealed in a most unfortunate way. In short order, Ian finds himself teamed up with his former enemy, assassin-cum-philosopher Socrates, fighting to save Detroit from Armageddon. No, it’s not that Detroit, but Detroit the afterlife, a world in which most don’t remember who they were in the mortal world – let alone that there was a before life – and only the “princks”, who must be cured of this delusion, remember their lives and deaths before emerging from the river Styx into a mostly mundane immortality. In this world, Vera, the former Delphic Oracle, is a medium… and small appliance repairperson; William Shakespeare takes side gigs as a butler; and Norm Stradamus writes show tunes/prophesies. Elder Martin Luther runs the Church of O which tries to spread the truth of the before life, and Siddhartha only pretends to be a princk to fit in. Then there are the 200 Napoleons…
Having not read (or known there were) two previous titles in this series (IPPY gold medal winner Beforelife and Afterlife Crisis), it took me a chapter or two to figure out the immense cast of characters that people this novel. But I soon got oriented – as best as one can get oriented to the chaos unleashed – to this metafictional and satirical twist on the politics and social upheaval of the last few years. Graham draws from both today’s headlines and ancient myths to create a world like no other, and never hesitates to ask huge philosophical questions in the most outlandish of settings. Biting, witty and whip smart, this is not an “easy” read; there are just too many layers and characters to ever let your guard down and relax. However, it does grip the reader by the seat of the pants and never lets go until the final page. The best compliment I can think of? I cannot wait to get my hands on the first two books in this series!
About the Author
Randal Graham is a law professor at Western University. His first novel, Beforelife, won the IPPY gold medal for fantasy fiction. Both Beforelife and its first sequel, Afterlife Crisis, were top ten finalists for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour. He lives in London, ON.
- Publisher : ECW Press (Sept. 20 2022)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 408 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1770414711
- ISBN-13 : 978-1770414716