cover image The Ferryman Institute

The Ferryman Institute

Colin Gigl. Gallery, $16 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-1-5011-2532-4

“BE A FERRYMAN OR SAVE THE GIRL. YOUR CHOICE.” Charlie Dawson receives a letter with these unusual instructions right before Alice Spiegel attempts suicide. The attention-grabbing scene opens Gigl’s strong debut, which is set in present-day New York and New Jersey. The institute of the title is modeled after the job of the mythical Charon; ferryman exist to help newly dead souls find their way into the afterlife. Charlie died on a whaling boat and was recruited to the institute instead of being sent on his way, a deal that seemed too good to be true and has caused him much regret in the following 200 years. Alice Spiegel is so distracted by Charlie’s appearance that she postpones her suicide while getting pulled into the web of intrigue stemming from the mysterious message. Perspective shifts between the two give deep looks into their inner lives. The book occasionally gets bogged down by these emotional landscapes, but it recovers quickly with funny, snappy dialogue and decisive action. Gigl successfully mixes human tragedy and comedy and creates a world worth coming back to. Agent: Hannah Brown Gorden, Foundry Literary + Media. (Oct.)