Author: Christopher Mannino
Publisher: Muse it up Publishing
The wait is (almost) over! Daughter of Deaths - the final chapter in the Susan Sarnio saga is coming out on e-book on September 20th, so be sure to check out this page on said day for some delicious details.
I received an advanced copy of DoD (that's the abbreviation I'm going with from now on) from the author, in exchange for an honest review. As much as I loved the first two books, this won't affect this review.
You can also read my reviews of the first two books - School of Deaths and Sword of Deaths - as well as my interview with the author, Christopher Mannino.
SPOILER ALERT if you haven't read the second book, Sword of Deaths.
Two years ago, Susan Sarnio was brought to the World of Deaths. Fighting sexism and bullying, the first female Death helped reinvent the College.
Now, her friends journey deep into the heart of enemy territory, hoping to rescue her. Ancient secrets come to light, and the horrifying truth behind Susan's arrival in the World of Deaths is at last revealed. War erupts between Dragons and Deaths, and the fate of three worlds hangs in the balance.
The epic conclusion to The Scythe Wielder's Secret.
Before we do this thing, can we talk about the cover? It's gorgeous, and I just love this dragon. Let's look at it again:
As I’ve mentioned this before, I was very much looking forward to getting my hands on this book. But it took me a lot longer to finish it, than I thought. Reason number one was school. Yup, I’m a college freshman again, and I’ve been readjusting my schedule and trying to get the new routines going for the past couple of weeks and everything else took a back seat.
Reason numero due is… actually, I’ll get to that later.
The second book in the series – Sword of Deaths – ended on a major cliffhanger. Susan and Will were literally hanging in the air as the two enormous dragons whisked them away to their dragon country, towards a very grim future.
Not to mention that as a result of Susan’s latest magical confrontation with Sindril – the evil former headmaster and Susan's nemesis – she lost four years of her life, turning eighteen in a matter of seconds.
DoD picks up right were Sword of Deaths left off, and Mannino doesn’t waste any time diving into the story, by throwing our two heroes and star crossed lovers in the middle of this dragon-riddled mess. While Will is being tortured by dragons, Susan keeps getting visits by Sindril who's sweet-talking her and being menacingly cordial. And just when Susan is trying to figure out his evil plan and why she was brought to the world of Deaths in the first place, Sindril drops the hammer on her:
He needs a Dragon Key (the same mythical object that Susan has been looking for since book one) in order to return to the mortal world. Turns out, the Dragon Key is actually a person. And the only reason Susan is here is to give birth to this key person.
And Sindril plans to "assist" Susan in the task.
I have to say I feel a little let down. So Susan's big role in this game is to be the mother of an important player? A interdimensional Sarah Connor? I understand that Susan's journey throughout these books is about trying to be bigger than her destiny, and to shape her own destiny. It's just that she's such a cool character, that I can't help feeling disappointed by this plot twist.
Meanwhile, Will learns about a secret order of dragons who want to stop Sindril, because they know that by using the Dragon Key, he will destroy the world. But how can the good dragons help our heroes? And how on Earth can Susan save herself from being raped by Sindril the Creep?What Susan and Will don’t know is that their best friend Frank, sensing that the two of them are in danger, has set out on a rescue mission. And Frank has troubles of his own. His mother was killed in the previous book, by a Death of all things. Plus, his own Elemental power is growing and becoming a threat to him. Will he make it in time to save his friends from death and rape, or will his own power stand in his way?
Out of the three main characters, Frank is actually the one who does the most growing and developing throughout the trilogy. He has the kind of potential that I initially didn't see, because he spent a lot of time in the background. But after having read DoD, I can now look back on him in the previous books and see that potential. He's an Elemental, pretending to be a Death, and is torn between the two worlds. He has powers that become less manageable and more dangerous with time. This book is as much about Frank as it is about Susan.
Since this is the last book, arcs need to be closed, and loose ends need to be tied. So we finally get to see Susan deal with the choice she made in the end of School of Deaths. She chose to fail the test and stay in the world of Deaths, abandoning her family. Believing that her family had forgotten her (by magic), she moved on with her life, and allowed herself to forget about them too. I never forgave her for that so it was with an unhealthy satisfaction that I watched her decision blow up in her face.
In DoD, the familiar story structure is completely abandoned. We're no longer on the school grounds. The story doesn't start off with a new school year. This is uncharted waters. And this may be the reason why the pacing suffers. The story starts with a bang and then the flame goes out for about two hundred pages. This is the longest book in the series, but somehow it feels lighter than the previous two. When things do speed up again, towards the last act, the author just rushes by some important parts.
The unbalanced pacing is that second reason it took me so long to finish DoD.
DoD is darker than its predecessors; more mature. Susan is no longer a girl, but a young woman. Her relationship with Will becomes more mature as well, more serious. It's the first book where sex becomes a "thing". But I feel like the whole subject could have been handled better, and explored more, especially with the issue of rape suddenly entering the picture.
Now I've finished the series. The circle is complete. I've had a lot of fun with the story and these characters. The last book is the most mature one but also the most problematic of the trilogy. Some parts could have been trimmed, while others could have been developed more. I didn't fully understand Sindril's plan, and why it had to be so complicated.
Susan is as cool a character as she has been from the start, and it's fun to watch her grow. The world of Deaths continues to fascinate me, and I wish I could have stayed in it longer.
Plot: 4 stars
Story: 2 stars
Characters: 3 stars
Writing: 3 stars
Total: 3 stars