Dying Is My Business is an immensely enjoyable book. In spite of its flaws, which are owing to a number of different causes.
But it is, nonetheless, a book I’m comfortable suggesting you pick up a copy of. And that has a great deal to do with the fact that Nicholas Kaufmann is an excellent writer. And there are a great many things I like about the book: Nick is very good at creating reader investment, he’s got an excellent handle on grounded worldbuilding (barring some consistency issues, without which the narrative doesn’t work, so…), and he has a flair for writing character.
Specifically characters like Trent, the book’s protagonist. An amnesiac who can’t stay dead. It’s a good basis for the series: a fun hook that immediately creates a sense of mystery and engagement. One wants to know, just as much as Trent does, why and how this is the case. Though Trent’s concerns also run more immediately to figuring out who he is. But, taken in combination, all of those concerns also allow for a gradually widening spiral of introduced worldbuilding elements. And Nick has incorporated some very good material into the book in that regard:
An elemental system out of balance; a world where taking magic directly into oneself leads to Infection and alteration; where effective castes of magic are relegated to the ages of the world (relatively speaking, it’s a little more complex than that), with magic operating differently for those who are older, non-human entities. And a consistent refrain of “stand up and be counted/it’s your duty to fight the encroaching dark,” delivered, albeit, too bluntly. Actually, Dying Is My Business is, in many ways, an unsubtle book. Despite that, though, it’s still an interesting trajectory, and an excellent look at a New York...