By DORIAN NEIGHBORS
“The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch” is a two-part series consisting of two volumes: “Volume One: At the Edge of Empire” and “Volume Two: Empire Decayed,” both by Daniel Kraus. The first volume follows Zebulon Finch after his untimely death on May 7, 1896. He was inexplicably gunned down on the shore of Lake Michigan but then woke up 17 minutes later with a hook in his neck with the daunting task of having to learn to speak and walk again. The two books follow him in his afterlife, going through everything from a roadside circus, to both World Wars, to being the right hand man to Hollywood’s most captivating star. It is written in a first person point-of-view, stylized as a diary Zebulon writes nearing the end of his century-long life. He often addresses the reader as “Dearest Reader,” as if they were an old friend, following him along his circuitous life.
The first novel in the two-part series, “Volume One: At the Edge of Empire,” is when Zebulon’s unfortunate circumstances are initially revealed. He begins with a general introduction, exposing readers to the horrors he has faced throughout his life. The gritty details of his experiences are slowly revealed as he goes through the circumstances up to his untimely death. While his death is revealed within the first few pages of the book, the rest of his life is slowly revealed throughout the novel. This style of writing is a pleasant solution for those who are extraordinarily impatient and cannot wait to find out the ending of the book before reading the whole thing. The end of the book is immediately known, which gives the ability to focus more on the plot and development rather than trying to guess the end of the book.
The second novel in the series, “Volume Two: Empire Decayed,” is the continuation and finale of the series. It continues directly where the first book left off, and the lack of time gap allows the ability to finish the first and immediately start the other without feeling as if the book is changing at all. His lessons in the first book follow him throughout the new adventures he must face, keeping old faces while adding new ones. Every person that has been involved in any of his other experiences are not forgotten, and are often the main motivators for his decision. The book is an enticing story with romance, adventure, mystery and anything else that would appeal to an avid reader. It has an original, unconventional story that is distinct from the books usually found in stores.