December 27, 2015

Review: School of Deaths (The Scythe Wielder's Secret #1)


School of Deaths  by Christopher Mannino
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: May 2nd, 2014
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Book Description:

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

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I was pretty excited to read "School of Deaths". It's a new take on the story of the Grim Reaper, which I thought was a pretty cool concept. The book is about a 13 year old girl named Suzie Sanrio who gets thrown into the all male world of being a Death. Deaths are what we think of when we think of the Grim Reaper, but there are actually a lot of them and before Suzie, they were always boys who were chosen.

Since Suzie is the first girl to go to the School of Deaths in living memory, she faces a lot of scrutiny and criticism. However, she doesn't let that stop her from unraveling some of the mysteries that she's stumbled upon in this new world. With the help of the few friends she's made, she uncovers more and more clues as to what is really happening around her.

Overall, I enjoyed reading "School of Deaths", and would like to continue reading the series to see what else Suzie does in this new world she's in. There was some good world building involved, both with the college that the Deaths attend, as well as the other races that are in this world, such as the different type of magical 'Mentals (short for Elementals).

However, I would have liked to see a bit more of what Suzie's school life was like inside her actual classes. We get some brief glimpses a few times, but I would have like to see a bit more so the reader could learn the history of the world along with Suzie in class.

I also think that Suzie should have been portrayed as older than 13. Her reactions to her troubling situation as well as her overall demeanor was that of an older girl, and think that it would have made more sense if she was about 16. It was just something that was jarring to me whenever her age was mentioned, because she didn't read like a 13 year old.

"School of Deaths" is something that I would recommend to anyone who likes young adult fantasy books. It was a quick and pleasant read, and I look forward to seeing what comes next in the series.

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Author Bio:

Christopher Mannino’s life is best described as an unending creative outlet. He teaches high school theatre in Greenbelt, Maryland. In addition to his daily drama classes, he runs several after-school performance/production drama groups.

He spends his summers writing and singing. Mannino holds a Master of Arts in Theatre Education from Catholic University, and has studied mythology and literature both in America and at Oxford University. His work with young people helped inspire him to write young adult fantasy, although it was his love of reading that truly brought his writing to life.

Mannino is currently working an adult science fiction novel, and editing the end of The Scythe Wielder's Secret series.

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