Traditionally, the King of Death is often depicted as a skeleton, with scythe, sickle, sword, and hourglass. Other symbols of death include the veil, serpent, lion, scorpion, ashes, and the drummer. Most interestingly, in Hinduism, death is symbolized as a dancer, sometimes a beautiful young woman.
Hollywood long ago picked up the figure of death, breathing life into the concept, which resulted in movies like Death Takes a Holiday and its stylized remake, Meet Joe Black. In the former version, Frederic March played Death, while Brad Pitt undertook the role in the latter movie. Whichever version you prefer, the fact that Death is so downright handsome only serves to increase the irony of the story.
Keith Rommel has adopted the Death-personified-idea in his new novel, The Cursed Man. Only Rommel has injected a few new satirical twists into the story, starting with the setting, an insane asylum. The Sunnyside Capable Care Mental Institution is the home away from home of Alister Kunkle, who believes that Death is in love with him. Not only is Death infatuated with Alister, Death is extremely jealous. Anyone perceived as a competitor for Alister’s time or attention or thoughts is instantly removed – permanently.
So when Doctor Anna Lee arrives at the asylum to “perform an evaluation of both Mr. Kunkle and the hospital,” her time here in this world appears to be very limited. She is as good as dead. Or so it would seem. When Dr. Lee doesn’t die, everyone at the asylum wonders, what is going on? Alister Kunkle begins to wonder if Death has – literally – taken on human form, becoming Dr. Lee.
That’s when the story rockets past the intersection of interesting and accelerates toward the on-ramp of fascinating. The reader is hooked. Who is Dr. Lee? Why isn’t she dead? When will she die? If she is really Death personified, will Alister be able to resist her charms?