Friday, March 25, 2016

School of Deaths (The Scythe Wielder's Secret Book 1)

Mannino, C. (2016). School of Deaths: The Scythe Wielder's Secret Book 1. Muse It Up Publishing.

Middle Grade / Audio Book / Fantasy

I gave this audio book 5 of 5 Stars


The Scythe Wielder’s Secret is a thrilling young adult fantasy/adventure series by Christopher Mannino. The first two books in the trilogy, School of Deaths and Sword of Deaths, are out now, with the third book Daughter of Deaths expected to be released in 2017.

The Scythe Wielder’s Secret series has received rave reviews and been compared to bestsellers like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Percy Jackson. It is recommended for readers who enjoy magical realism, fantasy, paranormal, middle grade, young adult, and/or books with a strong female protagonist.

ABOUT THE BOOK:  School of Deaths (The Scythe Wielder’s Secret, Book 1):
Thrust into a world of men, can a timid girl find bravery as the first female Death? 

Suzie Sarnio is a thirteen-year-old whose world is turned upside down when she discovers that she is destined to be a Death. She always believed the Grim Reaper was a fairy tale image of a skeleton with a scythe, but now, forced to enter the College of Deaths, she finds herself training to bring souls from the Living World to the Hereafter. As her year progresses, Suzie uncovers a plot to overthrow the World of Deaths. Now she must learn and embrace the reason she was chosen to be the first female Death in a million years.


HALL WAYS REVIEW: Hooray! It always thrills me when a new, FABULOUS middle grade book comes on the scene, and School of Deaths is one of them. With a road trip on the calendar, the timing was perfect for me to have an audio book to pass the drive time. The quality narration of this fast-paced, clean adventure kept me toting my iPad around from car to hotel and back home to keep listening. The only unfortunate part of listening to the book versus reading it were that some of the characters' unconventional names were hard to understand or remember. (Suzie, Frank, Billy, Jason -- got it. Cyndril (?), Lovthar (?), Athanasis (?) -- ehhhh . . .)

The book has a unique premise in that those who usher the dead into the after-life are recruited from the living, and grim reapers aren't really so grim and occupy a world full of beauty. (There is a great explanation for how reapers got their reputation in the mortal world.) Another strength is that through the main character, Suzie, readers receive great messages of courage, perseverance, and the power of faith in self. Suzie also illustrates that it's okay to be afraid, okay to cry, and okay to lean on friends. The story line covers a lot of heavy issues including bullying, sexism, and discrimination -- and shows that most of it occurs due to fear.  Suzie handles these situations very well for a thirteen-year-old, but what she had experienced in the mortal world was probably good preparation for it.  

There are twists and turns, and as some mysteries are resolved, others are uncovered.  Readers are expected to take a lot at face value and without explanation, which could bother some but didn't bother me.  The dragons don't play much of a part in this book. However, the dragon lore is revealed and enough happens that it's clear that readers can expect dragons to be major players in the upcoming installments.   The ending gives readers the resolution they want with teasers enough to come back for book two, Sword of Deaths, which was published in print and eBook in January of this year and for which the audio book comes out next month. 

I would recommend this book for middle grade readers on up to early high schoolers. There is no swearing or sexual situations (the budding romance is simple, innocent, and appropriate), but sensitive readers may find the deaths and violence -- neither of which are overly graphic -- disturbing.

Thank you to Book Publicity Services and the author for providing me an audio book download in exchange for my honest review -- the only kind I give.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christopher Mannino’s life is best described as an unending creative outlet. He teaches high school theatre in Greenbelt, Maryland. In addition to his daily drama classes, he runs several after-school performance and production drama groups. He spends his summers writing and singing. Mannino holds a Master of Arts in Theatre Education from Catholic University, and has studied mythology and literature both in America and at Oxford University. His work with young people helped inspire him to write young adult fantasy, although it was his love of reading that truly brought his writing to life.  

Christopher’s debut novel School of Deaths (The Scythe Wielder’s Secret, Book 1) was published in May 2014 by MuseItUp Publishing. The second book in the trilogy, Sword of Deaths (The Scythe Wielder’s Secret, Book 2), was published in August 2015. The third book Daughter of Deaths is expected to be released in 2016. His series has received rave reviews and been compared to Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.

Connect with Christopher: 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for reviewing and glad you enjoyed. The ebook just went on sale for only 99 cents, and I'm running a giveaway for a chance at a 50 dollar giftcard, a free audiobook, or a signed paperback. Details at