Posted on March 6, 2009 by Monica Valentinelli
Available at Amazon.com
Also available at DriveThruFantasy.com
Before I get into my review for Death’s Daughter, I’d like to share with you a few thoughts on Amber Benson. If you’re a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you’ll probably recognize Amber as the actress who infused life (and love) into the character of Tara. While Amber is an actress, she is also a director, producer and an experienced writer. While Death’s Daughter is her first solo project, she co-authored several projects with Christopher Golden, including the Ghosts of Albion animated series. (You may recall that Eden Studios recently published the Ghosts of Albion RPG.) Why am I telling you this? That’s easy. If you’re picking up Death’s Daughter because you expect it to be like Buffy: the Vampire Slayer because “Tara” wrote it, then don’t. You would be doing the author a huge disservice if you did.
So what is Death’s Daughter?
Calliope Reaper-Jones is a fashionista living in New York who has all but forgotten about her family. Purposefully. She’s distanced herself from her strange family — who just happens to run Death, Incorporated. When her memory charm breaks, her heritage comes rushing back to her and she learns her father and the Board of Directors has been kidnapped. Grudgingly, she agrees to take on the job of Death but quickly finds out she has to complete three tasks first to prove her worth.
Even though Death’s Daughter fits squarely in the genre of urban fantasy, I felt that the book had a lot of elements of dark comedy to it. It’s really rare when I laugh out loud at a character while reading a book — but I did in this one because of the way Calliope’s character was written. She’s decidedly human and a single, attractive female, which creates good tension between herself and the male characters in the book. Always on the lookout for that “next” guy, Calliope is a realistic character in the sense that even though she gets weak-in-the-knees for a guy, she doesn’t always accept his advances. On the flip side, the male characters were multi-dimensional and were given the chance to evolve on their own.
Calliope may be in charge (somewhat) of her love life, but that doesn’t mean she knows what she’s doing in her magical one. Aided by Jarvis (a magical faun), her younger sister Clio and a few unlikely allies, Calliope stumbles through her tasks part with help, part of her own accord. In part, her character is assisted by the style of writing in the book. In my opinion, I felt that the chapters had very much of a “serial” feel to them, ending on a cliffhanger so you want to continue reading on.
Here are three things I really liked about this book: First, this is not a book about a character whose main goal is to defeat bad guys to get more powerful to defeat even more evil bad guys. Yes, this is a book about Calliope’s adventure, but first and foremost it’s a book about her character. Second, this is a very modern book. What do I mean by that? Not all of the characters come from the same ethnic background. In fact, some of the characters make it a point to call Calliope “white girl.” I’m not spoiling anything by telling you this, but the character interaction between Calliope and Kali (yes, that Kali) was hilarious and believable. Finally, the overarching mythology provides an endless storyline that is all inclusive for any reader to latch onto. Since this is a book of “discovery” for both Calliope and the reader, I’ll leave it to you to learn more about the setting.
Here are a few things I didn’t like: First, it was really hard for me to keep up with the brand names thrown at me. While I love fashion and have religiously watched Sex in the City, the references distracted me a little bit and I had to wonder if this book will be encapsulated in the “now.” Secondly, there were a few details that were hard for me to follow, related to the tasks. Mind you, I read at frighteningly fast speeds so sometimes if the details aren’t overt I can miss them.
In conclusion, if you like character-driven stories with a touch of dark humor, romance and adventure, I think you’re really going to like Death’s Daughter. It will be interesting to see where the next book in the series goes, because there are a lot of “seeds” planted in the story for more than one book.
Review by Monica Valentinelli