Tuesday, October 17, 2023

"Let the Dead Bury the Dead"

Allison Epstein earned her MFA in fiction from Northwestern University and a BA in creative writing from the University of Michigan. A Michigan native, she now lives in Chicago, where she works as an editor. When not writing, she enjoys good theater, bad puns, and fancy jackets. She is the author of historical novels including A Tip for the Hangman, Let the Dead Bury the Dead, and the forthcoming Our Rotten Hearts.

Epstein applied the Page 69 Test to Let the Dead Bury the Dead and reported the following:
From page 69 of Let the Dead Bury the Dead:
Felix pushed away from the window, but he'd misjudged his balance. Light-headed, stomach turning, he stumbled over nothing, and if not for Sasha's hastily offered arm, he'd have fallen. Furious, he twisted from Sasha's grasp. He'd be damned if anyone touched him. Not with the smell of smoke still lingering in his mind, and the screams, how could he remember so clearly the sound of something he'd never heard—

"Sasha, I swear to God," Felix said quietly, "if you don't leave me alone this minute, I don't know what I'll do."

Before Sasha could respond, he fled the room, and did not stop until he reached the sanctuary of his own bedroom and locked the door.
I'd give the Page 69 Test a B- for Let the Dead Bury the Dead, I think! The page shows the emotional fallout from an exchange between Felix, the son of the tsar, and Sofia, a mysterious stranger who's just turned up at his palace. Sofia's words make him question whether Russia's triumph over Napoleon was a victory after all, or if the pain the country has gone through could still lead to something dangerous. That conversation—and the supernatural vision that may or may not come with it—forces Felix to realize that his family's rule might not be the best thing for his country, which is the catalyst for his whole character arc.

Of course, that's all two pages back. So if this was the Page 67 Test, this would be perfect!

But there's a preview of something meaningful on page 69 also, and that's how Felix's epiphany will affect his relationship with his romantic partner Sasha. This page has Felix literally pushing him away instead of trying to find a way forward together, and those divisions are only going to get deeper and more complicated as the story unfolds.

The paragraph on page 69 after the one I quoted shows Felix drinking heavily and hiding from his problems instead of dealing with them like a responsible adult, which is extremely representative of his character and also the rest of the book.
Visit Allison Epstein's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Tip for the Hangman.

The Page 69 Test: A Tip for the Hangman.

Q&A with Allison Epstein.

My Book, The Movie: Let the Dead Bury the Dead.

--Marshal Zeringue