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Grim Reaper: End of Days, by Steve Alten
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Variance Publishing
Published: 2010
Review Posted: 7/29/2013
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated

Grim Reaper: End of Days, by Steve Alten

Book Review by Michael D. Griffiths

Have you read this book?

It was fitting that I finished this book in the month of December, for Grim Reaper, The End of Days was without a doubt the best book I read in 2010. Steve Alten did an amazing job with this novel and although I risk stating an overused term, this story is truly epic.

I went into reading this rather long book of 550 pages thinking that I was about to dive into a horror novel. One could consider it horror in some respects, but Grim Reaper is such an intense book that it overcomes any such limiting label.

Although the Grim Reaper plays out the story from over a dozen different points of view, the primary character is Sergeant Patrick Sheppard (Shep). Shep had just suffered a horrible accident in Iraq, which sent him to the VA hospital in New York City missing his left arm. While he tries to come to grips with living his new life as an amputee, the thoughts of his estranged wife and daughter tear at his mind until he can barely muster up the will to continue living.

Meanwhile, at a highly secret government facility, a young woman has lost her personal battle with sanity. Mary Klipot works a specialist in plague research that is kept so classified that even the president is unaware of its existence. Mary is a dedicated scientist, one of the top in her field. She has never been in a relationship, she has no time for such things and lives for her work. But such a life takes its toll. When she agrees to a plutonic outing with her assistant, she had no idea that he would take advantage of her when she was drunk. When she becomes pregnant, Mary believes her virgin body is carrying the new Christ child and this sets a chain of events into motion that leads to her letting loose the most deadly plague every created into the center of Manhattan with disastrous effects.

Once the plague claims its first victims, there is no stopping it in such a highly populated area and it tears through the city like the wrath of God. Having discovered the location of his missing wife and daughter only hours before the plague had begun to revenge New York, Shep knows he must rescue them at all costs.

Guided by his psychiatrist, Virgil, Shep sets out on his quest to save his family. What he gets instead, is a trip through a true Hell on earth.

Here is where Alten's brilliance really shines. Shep's journey mirrors Dante's Inferno and Manhattan is transformed into the nine layers of Hell, each of which Shep must now pass through if he is to have any hope of rescuing his wife and daughter before the plague claims them. He gathers a small following as the insanity they are forced to endure increases in horror with every block that they draw closer to their goal and dream of salvation.

But this book is far more than a story of these heroes trying to overcome the hardships and terror of what their city has become. The Grim Reaper is also a spiritual journey, and particularly for Shep, one of redemption.

Alten's book is strong on so many levels that the only downside of this book might be that he could make follow authors feel unworthy. There were times in this novel where I gasped aloud, groaned, and was even was drawn to tears. If you are ready for a dangerous soul jerking ride, I strongly suggest you grab up this one.
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