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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
The Mortician is a horror novel by author A.L. Mengel which forms the first book in the Astral Files collection. Based on the concept that the body is temporary, but the human soul is forever, Mengel takes his readers on a terrifying journey to explore the untold possibilities of the afterlife. Our hero is Jacob Benjamin, who begins the tale with a formative life experience when his grandmother passes away. As Jacob strokes her dead cheek as Gramma lies in her coffin, his fascination with what happens when a body dies begins. From there Jacob grows into a man, but his bent for the macabre never quite leaves him, and an exploration of the old Waxley Mortuary brings him closer than ever to the grim answers he’s been seeking all his life.
One of the reasons I particularly enjoyed The Mortician is because it really isn’t a straight-up horror tale. Discussions of death itself and the possibility or lack of afterlife are some of the most terrifying topics that all humans must face, and A.L. Mengel tackles them with brutal reality but also with well-conceived philosophy. The secrets of the mortician of the novel’s title are fascinating to uncover, and Jacob’s personal journey is fraught with inner turmoil as he explores and pursues his legacy. Overall, I found The Mortician to be an enthralling and involved read with excellent character development, smooth, readable prose and a deeply chilling message. Highly recommended for anyone brave enough to wrap their head around it.