Categorized | Fiction

Death’s Daughter Fiction Review

Posted on March 6, 2009 by Monica Valentinelli

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    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

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    14 Responses to “Death’s Daughter Fiction Review”

    1. Alana Abbott says:

      Sounds like a great recommendation to me! Comedy, urban fantasy, and fashion? I’m totally there. (Not that I can apply the fashion sense to my own life, but I do tend to enjoy the chick-lit urban fantasy cross.)

    2. Jenny says:

      I’m always on board for solid female main characters — it’s so important to have that representation in SF/F!

    3. Elizabeth says:

      I’ve been looking forward to reading this for a while. And, I’m glad it’s been getting positive reviews.

    4. Bethany says:

      It sounds really awesome, definitely need to read it at some point.

    5. Gerald Hough says:

      Although this isn’t my usual type of novel, I might just pick this up based on the review. Since this is the same woman who wrote and made the independent (and very good) movie Chance, should be pretty good.

    6. Ron DeLucia says:

      Seems like a interesting book to read.Death with fashion sense & humor.

    7. Mallory Wagner says:

      I read the first two chapters on her site and was instantly intrigued. When I get my hands on this novel I’m sure it won’t be long before it’s read.

    8. Feylamia says:

      I can’t wait to read this, I’m a sucker for strong female characters. 🙂

    9. I’ve read the first couple chapters. The narrator, Calliope, is given a great voice and style. Can’t wait to work my way through the rest of this story!

    10. This sounds like it’s a great book that I definitely need to get my hands on. I adore strong female characters, character-driven stories, and dark humor.

    11. Michael says:

      Sounds like a rip-off of Terry Pratchett to me…

    12. leigh says:

      death’s daughter drew me in from the start i love para and urban . i read Jim Butcher for Harry Dresden haven’t gotten into codex quit yet even though there are currently 6 books in the series as of Nov 09. i love a lot of the books with strong characters from Dante Valentine and Jill kismet from Lilith Saintcrow to Rachel Caine’s weather warden series to Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan to Laurell K Hamilton Anita Blake and Meredith gentry to Howling at the Moon (Tales of an Urban Werewolf Series #1) by Karen MacInerney and so many other author in this field Amber Benson is in good company cant wait for the next installment of Amber Benson’s and calliope’s story

    13. Sarah says:

      This book is so badly written! The references to angelina jolie, ceaser milan etc are obvious attempts to force the book to seem modern. the main character talks like a teenager rather than a 25 year old – especially with all the supposed libido. if this book seems fast paced, it is because the author skips explanations.

    14. Joe says:

      I’m not picking it up cause “Tara” wrote it but because Amber Wrote it.

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