Book Review: The Ferryman Institute by Colin Gigl

Oh this book was so fun!

It took a little getting into – it’s a bizarre world – but once I was there the story swept me up and carried me along with it! The story is based around Charlie, who works for the Ferryman Institute (started by Charon on the river Styx) and is charged with convincing freshly reaped souls to walk towards the cliched bright light. Charlie is good at his job – in 259 years, no one has refused to step through their door to the afterlife. But there will never be a door for Charlie and that’s making him a little crazy.

So someone gives him a choice. Save the girl (from herself) or remain a Ferryman.

Cue mayhem.

There’s a car chase, a series of doors, a secret mentor who may or may not be a spy, blood, guns, a room full of emptiness, and some really, really bad puns. Oh and of course, romance.


Now, I don’t usually read urban fantasy. I recently tried to read Balance by Janelle Stalder because I liked the idea of it, but it was so painful I gave off after a few chapters. Also, the writing wasn’t polished enough and the jumping between third and first person POV made me cranky. This is basically my issue with all urban fantasy – it’s keyboard bashing at best and heteronormative patriarchal bullshit at worst (read my previous post on Twilight). But the Ferryman Institute? It doesn’t read as urban fantasy. It reads as clever writing and a fresh take on the Charon myth. I kind of think Gigl thought “If I was a character, what would I do?” and then made a character that did all those things. Coz reading it, I wanted to do those things.

There were a few issues. I didn’t like Alice’s voice in the book (she’s very woe is me, my life is over, but it seems like a bad case of middle-class white-girl-itis to me), and I thought the romance was unnecessary and the only weak writing in there. I also thought the action scenes were TOO detailed. I don’t need to know the trajectory of every bullet, or where his hands were on the wheel of the car – nothing else in the book is a closely detailed, and I feel it’s condescending to the audience.

I love the twists, especially regarding Charlie’s boss and I LOVE the sarcasm, wit and punning that happens – I’m a sucked for a bad pun. I feel like you can tell this is a debut novel, but I’d be happy to read whatever Gigl has coming next.




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