Sword of Deaths by Christopher Mannino
“Suzie Sarnio was a Death.” Christopher Mannino’s second installation in the Sword of Deaths series, The Scythe Wielder’s Secret: Book Two, starts off strong and swift. It’s Suzie’s second year as a Death, and she’s still getting used to being the only female Death in the entire realm. In fact, she’s the only female Death for the past few millennia. Needless to say, this engenders some hatred, jealousy, and, of course: a lot of male attention. It seems that every male friend Suzie has is absurdly infatuated with her. Those who aren’t, however, are out for blood. Suzie has a lot to prove, but is she fully up to all of the challenges that face her this year? With the help of her motley crew of friends, she will try to balance strength and serenity in the face of an impending war with the Elementals. The big issues of prejudice and the duality of good and evil pervade the entire narrative, as it seems wholly unclear whom the Deaths can and cannot trust. Being a death is an elite calling, but does that give them the right to look down on Elementals—much less accuse them of terrorism? Suzie is particularly torn, having attached herself at the hip with a boy who’s an Elemental parading around as a Death. Regardless, Suzie and her friends must all forge into battle. Even with a shattered scythe holding her back, this remarkable girl is able to maintain composure and do her duty to guide souls into the next realm, but the adventure hardly stops there. The story remains to be continued.
There’s a sharp sense of humor that spices up the text. The narrator is intimately familiar with irony, which makes for a refreshing read. A little explication is necessary, as it’s the second in a series, and some readers may or may not be familiar with the characters or previous plot lines. That said, there are times when the narrator tells more than he shows, which can be irritating. All things considered, it’s a deeply enjoyable fantasy read and worth checking out if you’re into swordplay or the Grim Reaper.
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