The Corpse-Rat King – Lee Battersby

Read for the Once Upon a Time VII Reading Challenge.

Marius is a professional battlefield looter.    He and his apprentice, Gerd, happen upon the aftermath of the battle that has killed the king of Scorby.    Unable to pass up such a rich battlefield prize, they’re looting the body when the Dead come to claim the King as their new king.    Since Marius happens to have his hands on the crown, they take him back to the kingdom of the dead.

Quickly realizing their mistake, the Dead banish Marius back up to the land of the living with the single task of finding the real king, and bringing him back to the Land of the Dead.   If Marius can do that, he’ll get his life back.   Marius, however, is having none of that, and decides to run.    What follows is a journey through a really interesting imaginary land, and since Marius is technically dead, he sees it from some very interesting angles.    (I particularly enjoyed the section that took place at the bottom of the ocean.)

I grabbed the book on the strength of Juliet Marillier’s blurb on the back cover, which included: “With its madcap story, unforgettable characters and fine balance between humour and pathos…”    And I think I was expecting a little more humor because of that.    There are a few glimmers in the book, but it’s mainly the story of Marius’s personal growth when he sees the world from a completely different angle.    So, I have to admit, I was a little disappointed.   Which is a shame, because it’s actually a good story, and I did enjoy it.   But I spent about the first half of the book looking for the funny before I finally gave into the story.    That’ll teach me to always trust blurbs, I guess.


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