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"Felo De Se" by R.A. Monroe

Book Review by Dean Kuhta

"Raine, Raine, Raine!" is a common phrase perpetuated throughout the debut novel, "Felo De Se," by author R.A. Monroe. The story, told in the first person, revolves around the deepest thoughts and contemplations of a woman called Raine. She works as an embalmer in a funeral home, and consistent with the grim atmosphere of her workplace, she exudes similar characteristics. Most people perceive her as sullen, anti-social, and dour. Yet there is a softness to Raine (reviewer note: I like that phrase!) that becomes evident the further we delve into her day-to-day life and interactions with other people. Even though she appears morose on the outside, Raine thoroughly enjoys her job as an embalmer. Yes, her boss, a driveling asshole called Myelin, is a daily annoyance, but her love for her craft keeps her focused. Monroe's descriptions of such embalmings are superbly written. Specifically, there is a scene where Raine is processing a corpse (the word processing seems coarse, but hey) early on in the story that demonstrates the author’s detailed knowledge of the trade. Eating a roast beef sandwich amidst a room filled with dead bodies to relieve the stench of death is another clever example. Here's another cool quote: "I don't have skeletons in my closet, just animal skin."

One evening, during the delivery of a fresh batch of icy-cold corpses, Raine dramatically encounters a delivery boy called Sterling. He’s everything she’s ever dreamed about in a man. Gorgeous, funny, introspective, and romantic. There’s also an abstract, darker side to Sterling that persists within his personality. He shows up at her house at random times and then leaves without an explanation. Regardless, Raine soon discovers how deeply she has fallen for this guy. As a result, much of “Felo De Se” is an internal battle between Raine’s natural desire to remain alone and her newfound passion for spending every waking moment with Sterling. They do everything together: chain-smoke on her front porch for hours, hockey games, concerts, and even a spontaneous trip to Hawaii. One of my favorite moments of this story was when Sterling gave her a necklace. Sterling Rain was its design. Pretty clever! “Felo De Se” is a dark, yet fun ride through the mind of Raine. We get a front row seat into her greatest fears as well as her thoughtful and caring attributes. Can Raine develop a balance between her distain for most human activities and her infatuation with Sterling? Check out “Felo De Se” by R.A. Monroe and find out!

Rating: 4 out of 5 Coreys

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