Book Review: A Respite for the Dead by Lucy Taylor

A Respite for the Dead cover
A Respite for the Dead cover

A Respite for the Dead by Lucy Taylor

Published by Omnium Gatherum

Guardians

‘…I sniffed the air and caught a faint but sharp scent of burnt weeds. Not the clean, crisp aroma of the autumn leaf burnings I recalled from my childhood back east, but something malodorous, pungent – There were no dates and nothing except the photographs to identify the dead. The only evidence that anyone had been here were a few bunches of flowers, the blooms withered and brown like a pharaoh’s mummified fingers – Guzman gazed into his empty wine glass like a sorcerer looking at entrails, but when he spoke again, I knew he’d had no revelations, divine or otherwise – I turned down the volume, called out “I’m home”, and was greeted by thunderous silence – “Oh.” I nodded like this was normal and fine, but I could smell my own rage, and the earth underfoot looked like baked blood – The distress in her eyes felt as gratifying as a standing ovation on the part of wronged husbands everywhere. I drank it in like a shot of hard whiskey.’

 

Lucy Taylor has once again made it quite evident that her brilliance as a writer is due, to some extent, to something far beyond her exquisite agility with prose. Her courageous exploration into cutting-edge perspectives regarding esteemed subject matter continues to captivate. Being a resident of New Mexico, I personally relate to this dark story. I know the descansos – those unique, roadside relics of remembrance spotlighting the point in space and time where the now deceased drew their last breath – that final moment before meeting with death. These are indicators – signposts directing our next thoughts into images of cemeteries and crypts – into the residual grief that always lives on after death – and into consideration of the various possible causes of these sudden and frequently violent deaths.

In A Respite for the Dead, Lucy Taylor explores outside-of-the-box potential differences between one dying peacefully in your sleep with a standard follow-up burial in the family plot versus being abruptly taken, very often brutally, and that act being immortalized in glory within a roadside memorial that time and again seizes the attention of unwary travelers. She explores our attitudes toward the dead – unseen thoughts we share with the deceased – and things the dead could possibly be sharing with us. We’re reminded of separate realities – realities that some of us more sensitive types, those occasionally in touch with altered states, as well as those of us who flirt with insanity, often chose to push back into the darkness from whence it comes. The frayed edges of these unseen separate realities, sometimes, cross over and manifest before us. We may discover that because we choose to reject what may seem to be so unbelievable, unrealistic and even absurd – by sending away these apparently incomprehensible messages bleeding over from the other side – we may be missing something very important, indeed. You may experience a facsimile of success in avoiding acknowledgment or acceptance of these messages, but inevitably, they return, because often, the message is for you.

In this tight work of fiction, Lucy Taylor lures you into the darkness to consider one additional possibility for what a respite for the dead could entail. It may be something that forms just at the edge of your peripheral vision…

5 STARS