A review of Saving the Dead, or The Diary of an Undertaker’s Apprentice by Jennifer Greylyn (in Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales, Edge, 2011)
By Derek Newman-Stille
This year marked the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic and Jennifer Greylyn explores the Titanic from a supernatural perspective in her Saving the Dead, or The Diary of an Undertaker’s Apprentice. The dead of the Titanic call out to the teenaged undertaker Jamie. He feels a compulsion to help, and the call of the dead is more prevalent than his duty to his family. Jamie is torn between obligations, trying to find himself in the space between familial duty and his duty to the dead, which is also a form of familial duty born out of his ancient banshee bloodline.
Greylyn drops her audience in the horror of dying in the freezing waters of the ocean, and the further horror of floating in death, unburied, and unattached to anything, waiting for burial. She complicates the issues involved in the preferential treatment of the wealthy dead and the danger that occurs when capitalism overrides duty.