Review: Lars Walker crafts a chilling dystopia in Death’s Doors. Unlike many contemporary stories with similar settings, this novel goes into the grim details of what this future-version of America looks like and why. Religion is heavily regulated so-as not to cause discomfort to others. Infants may be disposed. Autonomous persons, even children, can opt for physician assisted suicide. People will do anything to avoid pain. There are no heroes anymore. Everyone is looking for comfort.
Greatness does not arise from comfort.
And in this context, Walker utilizes an old speculative fiction device. He brings a man of the past into the present. I almost skipped over this book because of this plot point. I’ve seen it done too many times. Walker, however, turns the device on its head. He doesn’t bring a good man back to the present. He brings back Haakon, a tenth century Viking. Haakon hates Christians. He is brutal and violent. He treats women like objects to be won or used.
Haakon isn’t a complete villain, though. He brings perspective into this comfort-obsessed dystopia. He is a complex character who I found myself simultaneously applauding and condemning. By coupling this Viking with our well-meaning but powerless protagonist the character dynamics become quite dramatic.
Death’s Doors contains aspects of both science fiction and fantasy. I dare not say more than that, lest I ruin the plot.
I found myself highlighting numerous passages in the book. Like C.S. Lewis I find Lars Walker quite quotable. Typically, I don’t go out of my way to notate fiction. I marked twenty-nine passages in this book.
My only complaint is that the book is available only in an electronic edition. While I enjoy reading digitally, I also like to place great books on my bookshelf. Death’s Doors should sit right next to my Charles Williams collection.
Even though the novel is a work of speculative fiction it is grounded in reality. Death’s Doors was so wonderfully crafted that I would love to sit down for a meal with Lars Walker someday just to pick his brain.
I’d even be willing to eat Lutefisk to do so.
Rating: 5/5 (I Loved It!)
Find it here on Amazon.