Book Review: How To Be Death

ImageTitle: How To Be Death

Author: Amber Benson

Genre: Urban Paranormal Fantasy / Mystery

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis: All Calliope Reaper-Jones ever wanted out of life was a fabulous job in New York City and a really hot boyfriend. But now, she’s the brand-new President of Death, Inc. With the Board of Death breathing down her neck and her dad’s copy of How to be Death (A Fully Annotated Guide) unopened, Callie’s really feeling the tension. And when the guide book is stolen at a fancy formal dinner, Callie has to figure out how to be the boss–before the powers held within the book get out and destroy humanity forever…

WARNING – SPOILERS WILL ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – DETAILED REVIEW BELOW

Let me first say that I am SO MAD at WordPress’ posting tools. I’ve already written this review once, but just as I was finishing up, I hit a wrong button and my entire review disappeared. I tried to undo the last changes…. but WordPress had already saved over the draft with a new copy. So now I’m re-writing it.

Screw you WordPress posting tools *shakes fist*.

That aside, I loved this book. In my opinion it was much better than the previous three, and a good part of that is because of the way Amber Benson handled the plot. Rather than the usual Calliope Reaper-Jones novel plot, this one was a “Who done it?” murder mystery. It was like watching a Holiday Special episode of your favorite TV show: The characters you love are all there, it’s in the same universe, but the plot was so wildly different than what you’re used to. It was fun.

The basic plot goes like this: Each year on Halloween the office of Death throws a big party for all the supernaturals to attend. Callie doesn’t really want to go, but she really doesn’t have a choice. She’s hosting. Unfortunately, this is also the single time of the year that all the supernaturals lose their magic abilities (and therefore immortality) and are completely vulnerable. It’s also the one night of the year that Death’s Handbook can be handed over to Death (which aside from all the rules and information one could ever want on how to actually be Death, also contains instructions for starting the Apocalypse). Whoever holds the book at the stroke of midnight then owns the book for the next year, and has completely dominion over Death and all it’s sub-offices.

Unfortunately, Callie’s in for one hell of a night. She’s vulnerable this one night, and like usual, there are a whole host of people vying to snag her job. What ensues is a grand murder-mystery as Callie and her supernatural friends fight to keep, and then get back, Death’s Handbook as unknown parties start killing off supernaturals – and even try to kill Callie.

I love murder-mysteries and I will admit that I totally got caught up in this one. The plot was so complicated and intriguing that by the end I had no clue who was perpetrating all of these crimes and I couldn’t wait to find out.  I was also extremely happy to see Callie and Daniel back together throughout this story as they dealt with the aftermath of Callie’s sexcapade with Frank in the last novel. For once you could really tell how much they both loved each other, and how hurt they were by the events in Serpent’s Storm.

Callie really matured a lot during this particular novel, and it was a relief to see her step out of her “whiney juvenile” voice and start acting a bit more “I am Death and I am going to kick your ass.” I’m really looking forward to seeing her grow in the next novel (which I don’t have yet. D: ). Unfortunately, most of the other characters were one-offs for this particular novel, or simply didn’t get as much screentime as Callie – but I didn’t really feel the loss from their lack of presence. The plot carried well even with their short cameo’s.

I can honestly say that if you enjoy murder-mysteries, you’ll probably love this addition to Callie’s story. Just don’t go into this expecting your typical Calliope Reaper-Jones novel. (It’s so much better.)

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