Coffin Maker is an intriguing philosophical dark novel. A tale of good and evil, of action against introspection, of life on Earth and the Kingdom of Death
“I love them I hate them”
To the Coffin Maker, these perfectly balanced words are the ultimate paradox and show how he regards human life and death on Earth. Now the Coffin Maker feels worthy of the honorary title ‘Poet of Death’. Who is this Coffin Maker – a mere skeleton body of bones barely held together by parchment skin? What he does is clear enough but is he human or perhaps an Angel of Death? There is a story on Earth, but only to illustrate what goes on in the Kingdom of Death – the reign of the Coffin Maker. Here it is that for everyone born on Earth a coffin is made. When the last nail is driven into a coffin, a human life on Earth ends but how and when is a power lying within the Coffin Maker’s jurisdiction.
To understand the Coffin Maker we take a peek into his private journal ‘History of Death’. That perfect harmonious sentence “I love them I hate them” is what the Coffin Maker considers his greatest achievement and therefore this must be the “Poet of Death’s finest hour.” Ironically these are also his last hours of solitude. Because surprisingly a bit of paper enters the Kingdom of Death: the Coffin Maker trembles in anticipation. Is he finally allowed to learn the Creator’s Divine Plan? Instead, he is informed of the arrival of two apprentices, Hieronymus and Beezle, totally different characters as their names suggest. Hieronymus is the philosophical one, questioning and defying everything. He feels there is a sacred mission and his way of making coffins is guiding humans towards their inevitable death. Not pushing but granting last wishes, like seeing a beloved one for the last time or a sunset or the birth of a grandchild.
In Hieronymus’ way of thinking death is inseparable from life which is a journey for humans, learning all there is to know. Hieronymus death is a peaceful and compassionate life companion. Beezle however, is a creature of mindless action and hammers day and night, preoccupied as he is with making as many coffins as possible. His death is a blunt force of evil, violently tearing humans away from their Earthly life amidst fear and terror. His perfect death: complete desolation and obliterating every single life on Earth. On Earth, father Henry passionately preaches about the coming clash of good against evil – the good represented by President Doveman, the evil by the devilish Colonel Gouge. Beezle intends to keep Colonel Gouge alive who seeks to brutally slaughter and massacre humans and will stop at nothing. Hieronymus needs President Doveman to be strong enough to fight and defeat evil and to restore peace on Earth.
The Coffin Maker seeks to understand the Earthly goings-on as well as the antagonism between his two apprentices. In his search for the truth, he comes to doubt everything – his existence, his ultimate goal and whether he will ever reach it, the Creator’s Divine Plan. And what is it about those two apprentices that on the one hand irritates the Coffin Maker and on the other hand causes something close to fatherly feelings? They sneak behind his back and follow their own plans seemingly obedient to him, their Master. To prevent emotional attachment to human lives he has divided Earth in numbered Zones but now he experiences feelings of responsibility perhaps? Does he want to save the world with Hieronymus or is he content with Beezle’s efficient way of destroying all life on Earth? His ‘raison d’être’, his very own and personal ‘Journal of Death’ and his poetry – what are they to him, the Coffin Maker?
This is a journey into the darkest places of a man’s mind – if a man he is. What else can the Coffin Maker be? A merciful Angel of Death or the Devil creating death and destruction, obsessed with the task given him by the Creator. The events in the Kingdom of Death and on Earth (Zone 666, to be precise) are entwined, linked together – the precious balance of life and death of good and evil disturbed forever. Take your time to read this complicated, compelling and intriguing dark novel that left me bewildered and in awe. Be prepared as this excellently written literary work is not an easy read but it is thoroughly worth your while. Mark Fowler has expertly created a magical world to take the reader with him on a philosophical journey into life’s existential questions regarding good and evil – life and death.
About the Author
Mark Fowler is a British author and ‘Coffin Maker’ is his 2014 debut, in which his interest for psychological thrillers, crime fiction and horror is combined.
His other works are: ‘The Man Upstairs‘ (2015 – my review) and ‘Silver’ (2016 – my review).
|Publisher||CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (24 Oct. 2015))|