Book Review – The Undertaker’s Daughter by John James Minster

This novella manages to merge mush and the macabre in equal measure. At times I was sticking my metaphorical fingers down my throat at love’s young dream, at others I was wincing with an ‘ewww’ face on.

The titular character, Anna, is about to have her life changed forever. A timid girl who lives with her God-fearing mother and God-accepting father, Anna is the daughter of an – yep, you guessed it. When her friend Naomi takes her on a spending spree and full makeover trip to the mall, the previously-shy Anna becomes a whole new creature.

Armed with her new good looks, she finally has the confidence to get out there and meet boys, more specifically – Timmy. Timmy, who just so happens to be a talented musician on the verge of stardom, has always admired Anna from afar. And now it’s time for them to get it on, so to speak.

But nothing is ever as simple as that is it? The school jock/bully/general prick, Bruce is out for blood. I’ll skip the details on why, but just know that he’s a mean bastard who has what’s coming for him.

I was well over halfway through this tale and was wondering where exactly the horror was. OK, there’s a necrophilia scene before then, although this seemed to be there simply for the shock value and didn’t really add anything to the story.

And then there was the religious aspect. Anna’s a good Christian gal, while Naomi is Jewish. They spend many pages of the book discussing their differing views, and at times I wondered if teenage girls actually talk like this to each other? But there is a reason for it, and soon enough Bruce and his entourage of bullies make Anna their number one target.

This undertaker’s daughter is not safe, and actually begins to fear for her life. That’s before Naomi has a brainwave. She suggests they use some ancient, recently-uncovered Jewish mysticism to create a golem for protection.

And of course, things get bloody and gory from there. This golem takes his orders a little too literally as the carnage unfolds. There were some great moments and scenes of icky deaths that were very pleasing.

I did find the structure of this book a little disjointed. The golem appears in the final third, whereas the preceding action is basically the setup. I would have preferred the monster and the deaths and the living-with-their-actions to take up most of the story. Or maybe have the book a little longer to fully explore the horrors of this savage beast as it rips and shreds its way around town. I won’t give away exactly what it does, but it’s nasty stuff! Here’s a clue; death and sex. In that order!

If you want a gore-filled story with guts removed and orifices forcibly entered throughout, maybe look elsewhere, or just read the last bit of this tale! But if you fancy a coming of age story heavy on the violence then check this one out.



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2 replies

  1. You’re back! I’ve missed your reviews and worried that you had moved on.

    I enjoy golem stories. Good review. And yeah, teenage girls do go on about God and our various atheist-to-Bible-thumper approaches to Him. At least in our circle of friends back in the dark ages we did. You have reminded me how we could have discussions back then without breaking off into arguing factions.

    Liked by 1 person

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