Next of Kin by Dan Wells
Next of Kin by Dan Wells is a short story which takes place after sociopath John Cleaver leaves his small town and starts hunting demons. It is actually a prequel to the next stage of his hunt, and although he plays only a small part in the tale, it gives us an inkling of the direction his life has taken.
Just to recap, these demons are actually gods with special powers, from an ancient world. As we know from other demons that John Cleaver has encountered, each one is missing something. This story is about a demon who keeps losing his memories, and must constantly replace them with others.
This short story is actually told from the point of view of the demon. Elijah Sexton, who, once a god of the ancient world, has tried to survive in this world by keeping his head down, and staying under everyones radar. He feels guilt for the things he has done, and now survives by only feeding off the dead. He takes their memories, which often causes him to relive their grief, but it is still better than taking the memories of the living. When he feeds off a transient, he realizes that the man had been murdered, and that this was the second one. The murderer was another demon. He is being drawn back into the world of the gods, whether he wants to or not.
Dan Wells has created a lovable demon, just as he created John, a lovable sociopath. But telling this story from the vantage point of the demon is different — and really interesting. Elijah is trying to be good. He is a scared man whose memory fades if he doesn’t feed on others. It seems to be fading faster the longer he goes between feeds. He truly feels for the lives of the ones he feeds on, as well as for the ones they have left behind. But he has no choice. It is a rather sad and emotional tale of memory loss…..but it’s good ! This short story brings much anticipation for the next John Cleaver story.
Favorite Quotes from Next of Kin:
“You asked if making connections was worth it, and I promise you: it’s the only worthwhile thing in the world.”
“I’ve even been murdered, more times than I can ever remember. Every time, though, every single time, the death itself is never the worst part. Leaving is never as bad as the people you leave behind.”
Re-Read: December 2016
About the Author: [I don’t usually do this, but I took this next blurb from the back of the book. I loved it.]
When Dan was five years old, he got autographs from both Darth Vader and Mr. Rogers. He owns more than 300 board games. He has visited fifteen different countries and lived in three. He was diagnosed with hypochondria as a child, but it’s mostly gone now. He memorizes poetry for fun. He will eat pretty much anything at least once. He collects ugly ties. He is terrified of needles, mediocrity, and senile dementia. When he dies, his wife has specific instructions to play Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough” at his funeral.