SCHOOL OF DEATHS by Christopher Mannino @Ctmannino #YA #Fantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

School of Deaths (The Scythe Wielder's Secret, #1)School of Deaths by Christopher Mannino
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

School of Deaths is book 1 of the Scythe Wielder’s Secret series aimed at middle grade/ YA readers. The plot involves 13 year old Suzie taken from her home to a world filled with men, where she will be trained as a soul reaper. Heralded as the only female in a million years to be chosen, she faces prejudice, danger and adventure as she battles “Deaths”, befriends elementals and finds a strength within inherited from a long lost relative.

I liked the idea of a school of Deaths and was interested to see the direction the author would take the storyline in what is a very popular storyline arc in this genre. For me this teetered too much on the edge of the Harry Potter/ Percy Jackson books and I found myself comparing characters and points, particularly with HP, too often. However if it is meant to be Fan-Fiction then there is a different spin on it.

Here are a few examples; Cronk – bumbling kidnapper/ rescuer who is a teacher (Hagrid).
Wire rimmed glasses (mentioned only once) but, felt unnecessarily like Harry’s glasses.
School of Deaths, confusingly called a college throughout the book – Hogwarts.
Hann could easily have been Snape.
The Elemental slaves were like House-elfs.
Luc was like Malfoy.
Suzie had loads of visions (Theme from much of Harry Potter)
Game of Boskery – Quidditch
Travelling back to the mortal world was like apparating in HP or travelling by Floo Powder.

The writing style could also use a good edit and some of the content needs checking for suitability in this reading age group, dialogue is clunky and often overlong with too much use of the very basic dialogue tags. Readers of any age deserve the very best in writing, for instance there were 1060 uses of the word “said”, there are so many better ways to make dialogue vivid to the reader rather than using an empty word such as this, it will also give characters much needed elements to make them all sound individual and different. Slimming the book by stripping it down to short sharp sentences where every part takes the story forward, would allow for more elements that make the story unique and give it a chance to shine through in a very popular genre marketplace.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

I was given a free copy of this book by Book Publicity Services

View all my reviews on Goodreads

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15 thoughts on “SCHOOL OF DEATHS by Christopher Mannino @Ctmannino #YA #Fantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

  1. Now, here’s the thing. Virtually every blog post or writing course will, these days, tell you that to use any word other than ‘said’ for dialogue is amateur and unnecessary. Like, if you write well enough it should be clear from the dialogue/setting if the person muttered, shouted or wailed the words. As with everything, though, I think you need to judge for yourself. Sadly, some writers take it too literallly – this is what I mean by not following the ‘rules’!!

    This sounds like a total HP rip off 😉

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      • Dialogue tags are a real bug bear of mine. I agree with the advice that ‘said’ and ‘asked’ are preferable to fancy dialogue tags that look like the author has sat there with their thesaurus open. But too many become repetitive – it’s much better (IMHO) to use devices like physical action etc. for dialogue attribution, so for example – Fred looked up. “What did you say?” Anyway, that’s my two penn’orth worth! And don’t get me started on editing…

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  2. I imagine if you notice the tags, the dialogue can’t be that interesting to begin with (I also think that sometimes people’s attempts at being different can result in calling undue attention to the words and expressions, sometimes to ridiculous effect). The idea for the book sounds interesting but I guess the execution could be sharper.

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  3. Whoa. I agree with the ‘said’ tag and hate it when mumbled, screamed, cried, etc. are also instead. The reader should be able to pick up who is talking without being told every step of the way.

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  4. An occasional “murmured” or “mumbled” is fine–even “answered” or “replied,” when writing dialogue. However, words like “hissed,” “barked,” and “roared,” used to depict human speech, should be eliminated!

    Honest review with valid points, Rosie.

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