The Body Catcher
Tashi is a body catcher, paid by inhabitants of the poor districts of Ossiri City to dispose of inconvenient corpses. The fewer questions he asks about them, the happier everyone tends to be. It’s not an easy life, and the money isn’t great, but it’s better than the life he led when he was first thrown out on the streets with nothing but the clothes he was wearing.
Then a colleague asks him to help with the bodies of a woman and babe who died in the birthing. Not just any woman and child, either, but a royal princess and her secret bastard. Though he wants no part of the mess, Tashi agrees, and finds himself facing his past and enough trouble to kill him and anyone stupid enough to help him.
Here there be spoilers.
I’ve been following Megan Derr’s works for longer than I can remember, long enough that I can still recall the original versions of some of her books from well before publication. She’s been one of my favorite authors for years, but lately her books just aren’t clicking for me–including this.
I found the concept of body catchers interesting, and Tashi’s history (though not entirely a surprise) to be a good launching point. The story itself, though, seemed a little disjointed, with holes in the world-building that left things a little flat. The story could have benefited from the world being expanded into something a little more fleshed out.
When Rumér showed up, I pegged him for the love interest… until Tashi came upon Vyra, then Ezhil. Honestly, I was rooting for Rumér–I’m a sucker for age-gap romances–and for a time even thought it might end up a four-way relationship, though those hopes rapidly dwindled as Rumér diminished in importance (and efficacy). By the end, he felt awfully wishy-washy for the most powerful warlock in the country.
As for the romance itself, I just didn’t find it compelling. Despite Tashi mooning over Vyra and Ezhil (mostly Ezhil as he angsted over them being frenemies), I couldn’t feel the chemistry, but saw the culmination of it coming a mile away. The formula of Tashi seeing Vyra and Ezhil kissing, Tashi pouting, and Tashi ending up spit-roasted between the two was a little meh for me–I’ve seen it before, and it’s not the way I prefer poly relationships established. (I freely admit that’s personal preference. I may have been sulking over Rumér not being involved, too. Who knows?)
I enjoyed Tashi basically shoving his middle finger (or whatever the world’s equivalent is) to fixing the queen’s problems; he could’ve stayed behind and dealt with the various curses plaguing the city (rather than leave them for Rumér to (mostly) fix off-page), but he chose to live for himself. It was a pleasant deviation from a fantasy norm.
I enjoyed less the revelation of Tashi being next in line for the throne. If Valithta was matriarchal, what would it have mattered if Tashi was the oldest? Wouldn’t the throne just pass to the oldest female progeny? It didn’t make sense to me as anything but a plot device to give Tashi something to give up for Vyra and Ezhil.
Despite my complaints, it wasn’t a bad book. It was mental popcorn, and it served that purpose well. It just wasn’t quite what I wanted, like popcorn without butter, and probably one that I won’t go back to.
tl;dr It didn’t hit the spot for me, but there are worse ways to pass an afternoon.