A review by rebecca_maybe
The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Volume One: At the Edge of Empire, by Daniel Kraus

5.0

★★★★★

It's odd to rate a book five stars and not neccessarily recommend it. The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Vol. 1 was excellent, though I'd never re-read it, and I think many (if not most) readers would find it particularly unenjoyable.

Kraus' writing is stunning. His use of language made the novel vivid and, at times, violently disturbing. Categorically, this books leans toward historical horror, though it's written as a memoir. The main character is unlikable, sometimes detestable, but unfailing human. I found myself rooting for Finch despite never actually believing in his ability to be good.

The novel is bleak, and it's long, and it has no discernable path save the general direction of one man's disturbingly long life. It isn't happy. It's barely hopeful. But the brushes of goodness and joy feel earned and the reader finds themself clinging to them like Finch does. Perhaps that's the most bizarre thing about this book--it makes the reader empathize with an awful, 19th century gangster who lives forever at 17.

Anyone wishing to read this book should download a sample or grab it from the library--you'll know fairly quickly if it's something you want to look at for 600+ pages.