School of Deaths by Christopher Mannino
Publisher: Muse It Up Publishing
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Length: Full (270 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Snapdragon
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 enslave 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.
Suzie Sarnio is struggling in school; in the ‘College of Death’ to be exact. The promise of being intriguing and original leaps right off the back cover of this book…and we readers are not for one moment disappointed.
We find ourselves as anxious as Suzie, getting ready for the first day of 8th grade. She’s not exactly the same as she was, but chooses not to dwell on her own problems. It seems like a good start…
Only its not going to be 8th grade, is it? School of Deaths is cleverly written and draws readers right in. We sympathize with the main character’s (changing) plight. She’s gone from ordinary classes to getting ready to transport the dead (at least, she’s supposed to). Her classes are not quite as described though and she discovers she has some enemies at Death College.
She feels terribly apart and cannot understand why so many resent her, just because she is a girl. However, she is absolutely determined to do well.
Its about avoiding a ‘death before her time.’ She does make friends, and she does struggle to confront, with courage, those who are not friends. There are bullies as well as the just plain downright mean.
Who would have guessed Death as a profession, needing training and licensing, and even a willing participant? Yet, like any school, each must achieve for themselves.
It’s tough to discuss “The School of Death” without getting into spoilers; its all pretty original and the fun is in the finding out along the way.
If this all sounds quite macabre, be assured it is a fun and absolutely riveting read! There is a level of complexity in a couple of later chapters, but by then we readers are so committed, we won’t mind taking a minute to recall the ‘history’ and will keep hoping, every minute, that Suzie is successful at ‘death.’
Anyone who likes fantasy will get a kick out of this fast-paced fun read.