The Old Terra Vitae is one of the best stories I’ve read this year. The story revolves around what happens to a troubled soul in the afterlife, and it contains some shades of Neil Gaiman in the approach. Well crafted as a story, and with plenty of clues scattered to the unexpected twist that give you a lightbulb moment when it happens.

I picked this one up because the author was particularly helpful over on the NaNoWriMo google+ pages when I asked about how you publish and get noticed.  The initial blurb wouldn’t have made me read the book, it isn’t quite what I would normally choose for myself. However I’m making a conscious choice this year to try new things and also starting to think about how to write. This is in preparation for my next OU course (A215 Creative Writing, starting in October 2013).

So having acquired it I thought I would give it a go and if it was any good write a review. It was a very pleasant surprise that the story turned out to be very easy to read (except where I had to slow down for the Wong triplets – but even that was entertaining). While it features the afterlife, and those in it nudging the living to particular paths, it isn’t really a horror story as I see it. It is a sort of strange outside normal drama with a really good twist to it. At its best it reminds me of the sort of thing Neil Gaiman does, and perhaps also a little of Robert Rankin. However I would say it is all Paddy Green, since they’re his words and it never pays to set someone up as someone they’re not.

The pace of the story is good, and it kept me turning pages even when I ought to have stopped to do other things. Internal dialogue is tight and the characters have distinct voices. In particular there are the Wong triplets,  a set of three recurring characters with indistinct speech, and they have some lovely dialogue that has you straining to think what they real sentence is. For example “what shout it shot” is what they might have said if you got a freshly made cup of tea.  Those bits made me slow down a little, but it drove the story on nonetheless and it was entertaining.

I’d definitely recommend that you pick this one up and read it, even if horror isn’t your thing. You may well be pleasantly surprised…