Saturday, April 11, 2009

Review: Death's Daughter

Amber Benson. Death's Daughter. Ace: 2009.

Summary (from the publisher):

Calliope Reaper-Jones so just wanted a normal life: buying designer shoes on sale, dating guys from Craig’s List, web-surfing for organic dim-sum for her boss...

But when her father—who happens to be Death himself—is kidnapped, and the Devil’s Protege embarks on a hostile takeover of the family business, Death, Inc., Callie returns home to assume the CEO mantle— only to discover she must complete three nearly impossible tasks in the realm of the afterlife first.


This is a cute book with a fun premise, but I found it incredibly irritating. The narrative voice was too deliberately flippant for my taste and I felt the whole thing could use another round of editing. It was trying to be sassy supernatural chicklit, but the pop culture references felt forced and possibly dated. The heroine's voice was deliberately superficial in a way that wanted to be cute but was too wordy and too stupid for me. It wanted to be Undead and Unwed crossed with The Lightning Theif, but both of those series were better. I was annoyed by the heroine and her constant horniness for every man she saw, and I knew exactly how the whole book would unfold when I was halfway through. Plus, there were a lot of incomplete sentences, bad grammar and awkward word choices that were probably intended to capture the voice of the character but which I just found irritating. The tasks were predictable and the plot unfolded like a video game: heroine is abducted into a strange world, given a series of tasks to perform, and is then confronted by a final boss while accumulating a companions along the way.

Despite all of its problems, by the end of the novel, I was kind of interested. The idea of Death's daughter as a contemporary young woman struggling with her heritage is a premise I'm predisposed to like (I love Terry Pratchett's Susan Sto Helit, and if this were a series (preferably a slightly better-written one), I would probably pick up the next one. Amber Benson will be a good Young Adult or Chicklit author if she spends some time practicing and revising, but I think her name got her published a little before she was ready. Right now, I'd say that if you like the Queen Betsy series and are looking for something else in that vein, and if and vanity and silliness in a main character don't bother you too much, then this would be a fun choice for you. Otherwise, pass it by and pick up something by Amber Benson after she's been writing for a while.


  1. Great review. I was a little uncertain about this title, but I don't know if I'll pick it up now.

    ~ Popin