In the bowels of an unassuming, ever-moving funerary parlor, a mortician known as the Operator hides a fearsome machine called the Godwin, rumored to have the ability to resurrect the dead. It runs, like a soul does, on logos: on words. And in exchange for those words—for a client's life story—the corpse of their choosing might yet walk again. Careful, though. Words bear weight, so one must choose them wisely. Author M. Regan delivers a harrowing and beautiful glimpse into a world filled with desire, darkness, love, and loss.
(Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this book from Silver Dagger Book Tours for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own and are honest and unbiased.)
21 Grams by M. Regan blew my mind, and not just because of the splendid metaphysical elements. When I started reading 21 Grams, I didn't know that it was actually a collection of three novelettes. All three were connected by the Operator, the Godwin, and the common themes of love and grief. Each tale was set in a different time period and introduced a new cast of characters (with the exception, fortunately, of the Operator). Because I expected a more traditional novella structure (one story, not three), my reading experience was jarring. I became so invested in the first story that when it ended, I was bereft. The following stories seemed rushed in comparison. That said, I'd be more than willing to read the whole work again. Now that I know how the novella pans out overall, I'll enjoy it more.
M. Regan's prose was beautiful, eerie, complex, and emotionally evocative. 21 Grams was by no means an easy read. Sometimes the prose and dialogue were slightly hard to follow. Nevertheless, I found the author's style of storytelling fresh and absorbing. M. Regan excelled at creating a consistently unsettling, mysterious atmosphere throughout each story. My favorite part of 21 Grams was the recurring character of the Operator. They were delightfully creepy and thought-provoking. The deeper my understanding of them grew, the more intrigued I was by them. 21 Grams was so unique that I can't think of any books like it. Suffice it to say that if you're a fan of philosophical, gothic literature that provides great LGBTQ+ representation, I strongly suggest you check out 21 Grams by M. Regan.
Trigger Warning: This work contains some gore, a vivid description of gender dysphoria, and other dark themes, including grief and murder.
has come," the Writer said, "To read of many things:
Of sheers and souls and sealing spells, of poisoned herbal tea."
M. Regan has been writing in various capacities for over a decade, with credits ranging from localization work to scholarly reviews, advice columns to short stories. Particularly fascinated by those fears and maladies personified by monsters, she enjoys composing dark fiction and studying supernatural creatures.