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
They say the dead should rest in peace. Not all the dead agree.
One night, Silas Umber's father Amos doesn’t come home from work. Devastated, Silas learns that his father was no mere mortician but an Undertaker, charged with bringing The Peace to the dead trapped in the Shadowlands, the states of limbo binding spirits to earth. With Amos gone, Silas and his mother have no choice but to return to Lichport, the crumbling seaside town where Silas was born, and move in with Amos’s brother, Charles.
Even as Silas eagerly explores his father’s town and its many abandoned streets and overgrown cemeteries, he grows increasingly wary of his uncle. There is something not quite right going on in Charles Umber’s ornate, museum-like house—something, Silas is sure, that is connected to his father’s disappearance. When Silas’s search leads him to his father’s old office, he comes across a powerful artifact: the Death Watch, a four hundred year old Hadean clock that allows the owner to see the dead.
Death Watch in hand, Silas begins to unearth Lichport’s secret history—and discovers that he has taken on his father’s mantle as Lichport’s Undertaker. Now, Silas must embark on a dangerous path into the Shadowlands to embrace his destiny and discover the truth about his father—no matter the cost.
About the Author
Ari Berk is the author of the Undertaken trilogy and Nightsong, illustrated by Loren Long. He works in a library filled to the ceiling with thousands of arcane books and more than a few wondrous artifacts. When not writing, he moonlights as professor of mythology and folklore at Central Michigan University. He lives in Michigan with his wife and son. Visit him at AriBerk.com.
“Ari Berk writes deftly about loss and love, mining a rich vein of ghostly folklore with vivid prose, style and wit. A marvelous tapestry of a book.”—Holly Black, New York Times bestselling author
“This truly gothic novel is imbued with hauntingly beautiful prose and vividly drawn characters set in a town just as intriguing as its inhabitants. Death Watch will linger with you long after you lay it to rest.”–Tony DiTerlizzi, New York Times bestselling author of The Search for WondLa
"Berk’s writing style and language are reminiscent of the classic gothic works of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Shirley Jackson. The plot and pacing have a haunting, dreamlike quality–the type of dream that morphs into nightmares that jolt sleepers awake with a pounding heart and shaking hands. Readers who enjoyed Melissa Marr’s Graveminder should find this book intriguing."--School Library Journal
" [A] thought-provoking gothic fantasy...a leisurely, digressive, yet genuinely eerie tale...Berk’s setting is atmospheric and creepy, fleshed out with a wealth of funereal traditions and folklore..an intriguing opener."--Publishers Weekly
"Berk’s novel is a labor of love, focusing on his interest in folklore, ghost lore, and the customs surrounding the dead...a rich and complex book...in the hands of the right reader, it will be savored."--VOYA
"Those who like complexity in their scary tales will find their patience rewarded by the satisfying conclusion."--BCCB
"Ari Berk's compelling prose draws aside death's veil revealing a macabre, visceral, and utterly believable folkloric world. Eerie and poignant, Death Watch is at once chilling and full of heart."
-- Brom, artist/author of the Chesley award-winning novel The Plucker.
"Every now and then a book comes along that breaks the mold of everything that has gone before. Death Watch is such a book. At once a profound and moving meditation on death, and an extraordinary edge-of-the-seat adventure, it is one of the most original and powerful novels I have read in my lifetime." — John Matthews, New York Times bestselling author of Pirates and Arthur of Albion