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Thursday, 30 June 2016

ARC Review: School of Deaths by Christopher Mannino


Book: School of Deaths by Christopher Mannino
Series: The Scyth Wielder's Secret #1
Publisher: Muse It Up Publishing
Release Date: May 2nd 2014

Thrust into a world of men, can a timid girl find bravery as the first female Death?

Thirteen-year-old Suzie Sarnio always believed the Grim Reaper was a fairy tale image of a skeleton with a scythe. Now, forced to enter the College of Deaths, she finds herself training to bring souls from the Living World to the Hereafter. The task is demanding enough, but as the only female in the all-male College, she quickly becomes a target. Attacked by both classmates and strangers, Suzie is alone in a world where even her teachers want her to fail. 

Scythes hungry for souls, Deaths who subjugate a race of mysterious magicians, and echoes of an ancient war with Dragons.

As her year progresses, Suzie suspects her presence isn't an accident. She uncovers a plot to overthrow the World of Deaths. Now she must also discover the reason she's been brought there: the first female Death in a million years.

I was given a copy of this book by the publishers in exchange for an honest review. 

I read the blurb and it sounded so exciting! Magic, female deaths, fantasy schools? It seemed very Harry Potter-esque.

So what’s the story? Suzie is 13 years old and we start off in the ordinary world, where she’s losing weight despite eating loads and can’t explain strange dreams that she keeps having.  Then boom! Suzie’s not normally after all. She’s actually a female death, the first in a million years. She’s brought by a Death to a school where she’ll be taught how to be a Death, or a Grim Reaper. She has to complete a year of training, where after she can take a final test to be allowed to go home. If she fails, she has to stay a Death and her family will forget she ever existed.  What we see of the world of the Death is a college surrounded by some forests and mountains, and we also hear of dragons that reside in this world but we have yet to meet.

Suzie, our main character, has to face a lot of prejudices being the only girl in a world full of men. Not even men, but immature boys in some cases. Most are showed as bullies trying to show off how they are superior. Lame. I thought it was odd that Suzie was only 13, as that is a very young age to have as a protagonist. I know when I was 13 I was still pretty much a child. I cared what people thought of me and dressed and acted to impress others. I always feel that older protagonists are better as they would be more mature and show more character development than you would at 13. She acted very strong than you would expect at that age, although there were times when her age showed; she was na├»ve and assumed the worst of people at times. She didn’t think everything through. She didn’t seem too traumatised about being kidnapped from her home so suddenly, especially without being able to say goodbye to her family or let them know that she was alive.

Along with Suzie we have friends that she made: Billy, Frank and Jason. They were all willing to help Suzie and were good friends, but we never really got a sense of character from them. They could’ve all melded as once character and you wouldn’t know the difference!

I think the book should be targeted for a younger audience, simply because of the age of the characters. They worry over things like kissing, first kisses, do I like him or like him? As someone in her early twenties, this felt very childish to me.

While there was a mystery that Suzie attempted to solve, the book did get a bit slow at times.  I never got attached to the characters as none of them were really given personalities, and there were some chapters that would just show Suzie at school learning and adapting to her new environment. The romance also happened really suddenly – first she’s friends with Billy but then he kisses her out of the blue nut nothing actually changes in their relationship, they still act like friends except for a random kiss here and there and the eternal question of all 13 year olds: does he like me?

I did enjoy the concept of Elementals – servants in the college that have special abilities but are meant to be seen and not heard. They were quite interesting and I’d like to see them developed.

Overall, it was an okay read but definitely for a younger age group than me. As Suzie is 13, I think it would be better suited to that age group, not a college student. 


  1. Ahah I totally understand what you mean by the age thing ! I don't like reading books about younger protagonists, and age 13 sounds very young to me ! So this is definitely not my thing !
    Great review, glad you managed to enjoy it anyway :)

    "Book Addict"


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