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Silas Umber’s life is turned inside out the day his
father, mortician for the town of Lichport,
disappears. The already introverted Silas is
heartbroken at the loss of his father, and the
behavior of his alcoholic mother only adds to his
grief. Left with nothing, the only option Silas and
his mother have is to move back to the family home
in Lichport with Silas’ estranged and secretive
With the discovery of an old skull-shaped pocket
watch that belonged to his father, it becomes clear to Silas that things in
Lichport are not always as they appear. Amos Umber was no mere mortician, but the town Undertaker, ushering the lost, frightened and often angry souls of Lichport on to the next plane. The Death Watch, a tool for his family’s trade, allows the owner to see the dead, and has been passed from father to son for centuries. As Silas gradually slips into
the former role of his father, he overcomes his childhood fears and learns as much about himself through helping the lost souls as he does about his father.
Death Watch, the first installment in the Undertaker Trilogy, is full of beautiful prose that carries the story along, adding to this atmospheric tale. Mixing myth with his own creations, Ari Berk has invented an imaginative folklore for a town that becomes as much a character in the
book as the citizens of Lichport. So even though the dead only stick around in Lichport, Death Watch makes a subtle statement that our memories can keep our loved ones just as close. — LH