Book Review – Don’t Be Afraid by J C Piech

I recently announced on my Twitter account and Facebook page that I am happy to review books, especially those written by Independent Authors (or Indies as they are fondly known). One of the first books I was sent was Don’t Be Afraid by a lady called J C Piech.

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The book is just £1.99 on Amazon and I read it in a handful of hours, not because it is a short novel (there are certainly longer out there but it is a respectable length) but because it was so readable. From the first chapter I was hooked.

The story focuses on Jason Stone who dies and becomes what is known as a Reaper, helping the souls of others who die to ‘go home’. This is the book description from Amazon to give you some flavour:

New Mexico, July 1945: Chain-smoking English scientist, Jason Stone, dies moments before the first test of the atom bomb.

Later, when the bomb he helped create is dropped on Hiroshima, Jason begins work as a Reaper: a collector of the dead.

Leaving behind all he thought he knew (except cups of tea and packs of Chesterfield cigarettes), Jason becomes as much a student as a guide: Learning that each soul – whether it be an American marine in Vietnam, or a teenage suicide in 1980s West Berlin – will be taken to the same place when they die. It’s only their journey that is different.

But what happens when a Reaper’s heart becomes too full of the joys and sorrows of the world? And when Jason meets an old friend, who shares a long forgotten guilt, will Jason’s soul survive the burden?

At first glance it may seem as though the book may be heavy or disturbing; it deals with death, and let’s face it, none of us wants to die. The truth is, the book is beautifully written and had me in tears several times, but more because of how touching it is as opposed to any sense of my own mortality tapping me on the shoulder as sometimes happens when reading about people dying. The story is actually one of hope, of love, of togetherness. We are all connected to each other, we all come from the same source and return to it when we die. In essence, we all ‘go home’. Whether you believe that or not in real life doesn’t ultimately matter; this book is simply a joy to read from a literature perspective if nothing else.

I love books that make me feel emotional when I read them. It tells me the words have touched me
on a level deeper than just reading a story. This book touched me. I read two thirds of it in public, and had tears rolling down my cheeks three, four, even five times. I didn’t care. No one asked me if I was all right, but if they had I would have told them. I am more than all right. I am reading something special.

As you may have guessed, I love this book. It is of an exceptionally high standard and I am in awe of J C Piech. If my own writing is half as good as this I will be happy.

SCORE: I need to reiterate something before I score; I don’t like rating 5 out of 5. It means this is perfection. It cannot be bettered. There is always room to improve, and I want the author to have something to shoot for. Make me give your next novel 5 out of 5 (please, I dare you). For this book I will post it under my 4 out of 5 review page, but between you, me and the gatepost it is a 4.5 out of 5. In short, buy it. Buy it now.

J C Piech has her own blog which you can visit here. You can also follow her on Twitter for all her latest news and updates.

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