Charlie Dawson is a legend at the office but, after two hundred fifty years of escorting souls to the afterlife, he’s starting to get burned out. He’s tired of seeing death after death and not being able to do anything to actually save their lives. In Colin Gigl’s amazing novel, The Ferryman Institute, we see what happens when Charlie is finally given a choice: to save a life or remain a Ferryman.
The Ferryman Institute, founded by Charon the original Ferryman, exists to keep earth from being overrun with angry spirits and poltergeists. At least, this is what Charlie has always been told. So, every “day” (time is more than a bit relative in Charlie’s world) he takes calls to escort souls to whatever afterlife they’ve believed in. He’s the best, so he gets to see more than his fair share of awful deaths and tragedy. He escapes from the office and requests retirement every chance he gets, but his little escapes are not enough when his bosses just won’t let him go.
The only thing that’s different about his latest mission, to escort the soul of Alice Spiegel, is that it comes straight from the president of the Institute. It offers him the choice of saving the girl (who is about the commit suicide) or stay a Ferryman. In a split second, he makes the choice to stop Alice. With that choice, everything about his daily grind goes haywire. Before the day is out, he and Alice are on the run from the Institute’s notorious Inspector Javrouche, almost killed in car chases, and are ambushed more than once.
For a book that has so much action, The Ferryman Institute is very contemplative about the meaning of life and death. Given Charlie’s profession, it’s no wonder that he thinks about life a lot. Some of the souls he meets are ready to move on. Others are filled with regret about unsaid goodbyes and unfinished business. Some, like Alice, are tragic because they need someone to see how far they’ve fallen and only need a helping hand. With Alice, Charlie at last has a chance to talk with a person who needs to learn why they should go on with their life—and learn that he, too, needed to find a reason to carry on.
I chose this book from NetGalley because I was intrigued to learn what Gigl might do with the idea of psychopomps. I’m fascinated by stories that take mythology and twist it a bit, especially when the author has wit. This book was excellent; it combines an intelligent premise with action and humor, all bent around a brilliantly unpredictable plot.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review consideration. It will be released 27 September 2016.
Notes for bibliotherapeutic use: Recommend to readers who feel burned out by their jobs.