Michelle Muto’s Don’t Fear the Reaper took me on a haunting and intriguing ride through an unexpected and surprising netherworld. MY BRIEF SUMMARYAfter Keely’s twin sister, Jordan, is murdered, Keely commits suicide in hopes of being reunited with her sister in a peaceful afterlife. That doesn’t happen. Instead, Keely ends up in a Purgatory netherworld on Earth, with only a reaper (Banning) and a demon (Daniel) to guide her. Caught between simply wanting to find her sister and seeking revenge on the man who murdered Jordan, Keely must decide whether or not to trust Banning and Daniel, something made more difficult when she learns that they’re both keeping secrets from her. STORYI’m a huge fan of stories that explore the afterlife and what happens after we die, and Muto’s story definitely doesn’t disappoint, especially in the originality department. In Don’t Fear the Reaper, Muto offers readers a unique and wonderfully rendered exploration of the afterlife.Muto’s first chapter is one of the best executed first chapters I’ve come across in a long time. A perfect blend of startling, yet captivating events and mystery, the first chapter had me hooked. However, the next quarter of the book did move a bit slow for my liking and it wasn’t until the halfway mark that I felt like the book found its stride…but once it did, the book moved at a perfect pace and had me enthralled until the end.There’s a great mix of emotion and tone in this book. It’s haunting and mysterious and both thrilling and chilling. But it’s also quite funny and amusing; not necessarily in a laugh out loud, silly funny kind of way, but an amusing and smart, sarcastic, witty kind of way that I found both refreshing and entertaining. And of course the emotional journey that the characters go through (all the characters) is very important and Muto has crafted this fragile journey beautifully. There were scenes that had me choking up and a couple that had me in tears and moved me profoundly.I’ll admit that it isn’t easy to impress me when it comes to the paranormal, but Muto has done just that. Her take on the world of reapers, demons, angels, and spirits is quite breathtaking and excitedly original.There are certainly a few surprising twists and turns, but I can’t say that I didn’t see the ending coming. However, I didn’t mind the predictability that much, because Muto offers a compelling and exciting last quarter of the book. The ending also sets up future books nicely while still offering a satisfying ending. CHARACTERSAll of the main characters in this book are well developed and absorbing. The story is told from Keely’s perspective, so readers see, hear, feel, and perceive things through her. I think this created an intimate relationship between me, the reader, and our MC, Keely, but I think it kind of limited my understanding of other characters. I would have liked to have read a chapter or two from the perspective of one or more of the other characters, such as Banning or Daniel. But, I did really like the relationship and connection the book allowed me and Keely to form.I enjoyed Keely’s feisty nature, humor, and honesty, and I felt genuinely invested in her as a character. But there were things about her character that I had issues with. She spends a great deal of time ruminating and well, whining about the fact that she is dead, which got a little annoying. I could understand her complaining in the beginning of the book, but by the last part of the book it just got repetitive.Banning and Daniel are both really intriguing paranormal characters. I loved the contrast between the two of them and how wonderfully unexpected their natures are. I really liked Jordan and what she brings out in Keely. Their relationship as sisters is touching and heart-wrenching, but I enjoyed them as individuals too. I’m really hoping we get to know Jordan better in future books. ROMANCE/RELATIONSHIPSThere really aren’t any concrete romantic relationships in this book, but past romantic involvements do play a significant role. And there are subtle, yet completely fascinating flirtations among some of the characters and I’m really excited to see where they lead.MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Michelle Muto’s Don’t Fear the Reaper is a wonderfully original and enthralling book. The paranormal aspects will thrill you, while the emotional elements will move you. This series has me hooked and I’m excited to see where it goes.