School of Deaths by Christopher Mannino

four stars

deathsA gripping tale like no other, School of Deaths is sure to have readers turning pages with bated breath. Christopher Mannino’s The Scythe Wielder’s series is a fascinating science fiction fantasy. Some would even call it dark fantasy. School of Deaths is the first book in the series, and takes readers along with Susan Sarnio as she comes to realize that not only is she a Death, but the only female Death to step foot in the World of Deaths in a million years. The challenges new Deaths face as they attend the College of Deaths is difficult enough, but Susan’s is exceptionally more difficult because most of the male Deaths, especially the older ones, are not willing to accept a female Death into their midst. Soon, Susan discovers deep secrets that may be her saving grace, but at the same time these same secrets may be far more dangerous than she anticipates. From her first few days in the World of Deaths, she occasionally experiences a burning, fiery sensation in her body and sees a pair of green eyes. Discovering who she really is, who those green eyes belong to and why she is the first woman to be in the World of Deaths after a million years is only part of her frightening journey.

Christopher Mannino’s creation of a fantastical world in which Deaths, or Grim Reapers as most would call them, is a very unique take on an old story. School of Deaths is a page turner without a doubt. Yet, Mannino’s description of the scenes are a bit lacking. The scenes from the first moment Susan arrives in the World of Deaths to her first experiences at the College of Deaths leave a bit to be desired. They are written in a way that doesn’t make them super easy to visualize within one’s imagination. Readers need the opportunity to feel this story as a potential reality, so that they become more connected to it. On the one hand, Mannino does that through the friendships Susan creates alongside those who choose to be her enemies. Friendship and trust, or the lack there of, is a strongly evident piece to School of Deaths. Even lacking in some areas, readers won’t want to put School of Deaths down as they anxiously want to discover the answers just as Susan does.

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