Title: Death's Daughter
Author: Amber Benson
Genre: Urban Paranormal Fantasy
Rating: 2 or 5 Stars (Dual rating, I'll explain)
Description/Synopsis: 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.
WARNING - SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT - REVIEW BELOW
Okay, let me explain the dual rating above. There are aspects of this book that are both really well written, and horribly written, and depending on your state of mind going into this book, your opinion of it may waver greatly from one end of the spectrum to the other.
This book is written in the very casual, sometimes silly and energetic voice of the main lead character, Calliope Reaper-Jones (Callie). Now, normally I'd give props to any author who could successfully write an entire book in the voice of its main character - it's hard not to slip into your own manner of speech when you've been writing something so long, and in this way I feel the story is well-written. However, if you happen to not like the main character, this also means that you could really hate this book.
Callie is the daughter of the Grim Reaper. She resents being immortal, she resents being related to Death, and she mostly just wants to be left alone to live a normal life. Her comments are often sarcastic, whiny, and negative - and she has a penchant for objectifying men. If these traits bother you, you may have an extremely hard time getting through this book.
I found the plot to be extremely engaging and interesting though some of it I considered superfluous. As the story starts, Callie is just an average girl working for a New York company as an assistant. She hates her job, she hates her boss and has no free-time to be social. As the story progresses we learn that she is also the daughter of the Grim Reaper though she doesn't remember it because she cast a charm on herself in order to forget. Why did the author bother to waste a chapter on the character being normal? I don't know. Like I said, bits of this were superfluous.
It is shortly introduced thereafter that for unknown reasons, Callie's father and his entire board of trustees at Death Inc. have been kidnapped, and it has now fallen onto Callie to step up and become Death - a job she really doesn't want. This request leads to an adventure as Callie tries to complete three tasks set before her in order to gain the office of Grim Reaper that leads her through Hell (literally).
All is not as simple as it seems however because Satan has also enlisted his protege (Daniel) to try and complete the three tasks as well, hoping to gain his own henchman into the office so that he can control Death. What ensues is an entangled web of mystery, ridiculous challenges, and assault as the people around Callie turn on her (sometimes seeming to contradict themselves) in order to keep her from becoming Death. Even her own family plots against her! What Callie doesn't realize, is that there's a third unknown party working to thwart her that is manipulating the people around her.
I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the complicated twisting plot. It was fun to try and guess why certain characters were acting strange at different times during the book, and trying to figure out who had kidnapped Callie's father in the first place. I knew something not right was going on, but I couldn't pinpoint what.
However, I also feel I have to mention that the actions and dialogue of the many colorful characters of this book left something to be desired. Like Callie, most of the characters acted juvenile (even though many of them were ancient gods). There were tantrums and whining all throughout this book that left me feeling like I wanted to scold the entire immortal realm.
The book ended up being such a mixed-bag of great plot / horrible execution that the only way I can emphasize that you must go into this book with the right mindset in order to enjoy it is this:
If you like Piers Anthony, you'll love this. It is very reminiscent of Piers Anthony's voice as he wrote the Books of Immortality series, and perhaps even a little bit of the Xanth series. There's a certain quality of unabashed silliness and humor to the writing that you can't help but enjoy the story despite the many flaws in the writing. This book cannot be taken as a serious fantasy such as The Hobbit or Harry Potter - it isn't written to be serious, just fun.
If you can set aside that serious quality, you should really enjoy this book. If you're looking forward to a serious, realistic fantasy on what it'd be like to be Death's Daughter, you'll be disappointed.