“Let Death come as Death pleases, whether as man or woman or strange, sexless creature.”
Come Lady Death, by Peter S. Beagle.
Podcastle is once again the host of today’s story–can you tell that I’m a regular listener? This story is a bit special, however, as it’s the first episode they ever hosted. You can find it here if you want to listen.
In London, England, during the rule of one of the King Georges(I don’t know enough English history to know which one), Lady Flora Neville holds the most magnificent parties and balls. Everyone important attends, but there’s one guest that she’s sure will really bring attention and life to her next party: Death himself. Or rather, herself, as Death will be guaranteed to stun everyone with her entrance. That is, if she shows up at all.
This is the first story of Beagle’s that I’ve ever experienced, and I’m glad that’s the case, because it’s absolutely lovely. From the writing to the characters and the themes, this story is extremely endearing and enjoyable. Even the side characters were individual and interesting. That being said, Lady Neville was a fantastic focal point, and an absolutely wonderful character to read about. She had the confidence and grace that I think we should all aspire to have.
It’s really hard to find fault with this story in any capacity, but I do think that the treatment of the hairdresser was a little excessive. It kind of pulled me out of the rest of the story. That scene had a different flow and tone that, while subtle enough that it didn’t really shock me or change the tale, it did just feel a bit off. It was a short enough incident, however, that I didn’t even realize it bothered me until the second time I listened to it.
The ending of this story was truly great. I was mesmerized as I listened, almost knowing exactly what would happen, but still enthralled as each word went by. It was haunting and beautiful, like Death herself, and I felt honoured to be a part of it, like the guests and Lady Neville’s party. Beagle really did an incredible job, writing this story in a way that I felt I was there, in another country and another time.
This gorgeous tale gets 5 out of 5 from me, and I think most anyone could also enjoy it just as thoroughly. It’s beautifully written, beautifully executed, and features a beautiful sense of emotion.
Peter S. Beagle is an author with an extensive bibliography, though his most famous work, by far, is The Last Unicorn. After reading this story, I picked up a modern copy of the Last Unicorn, and am looking forward to reviewing it in the future. He has a Twitter account at @petersbeagle.
What’s the best party you’ve ever been a part of, and what made it so great?