The Secret Dead by S.W. Fairbrother is one of the more unique books I’ve read in a long while. Vivia Brisk is a death hag, and she can ‘die’ to visit the underworld and come back to life. It’s complicated, painful, and rare. We meet a cast of strange characters from the death hag to the sleazy human male, to the winged boy, to various zombies and shapeshifters.
Fairbrother does an excellent job creating a very real yet very paranormal world. Zombies have their own police division and shapeshifers/wereanimals are on the police force. There are legal liaisons for non-humans and a whole separate colony for the winged humans. Yet everything is weaved seamlessly into the story in a very understandable manner.
Vivia, our main character, moves back and forth between the world of the living and the world of the dead. She’s a particular character, because of her talent. I also like that the author hasn’t made her particularly beautiful. She’s a very real person with very real problems, including her family. She works for minimal wages at a job she likes helping other non-humans. Vivia is relatable.
As she moves into the chaotic situation surrounding her co-worker’s transition to the Undead, Vivia is dealing with her family problems, her co-worker’s family problems, and a case of magical soul sucking all at once. Her world is going down the drain really fast, and she’s moving back and forth between living and dead way too often for her skinny frame.