Masters Of Death - Olivie Blake - Keeping Up With The Penguins
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I’ve scrolled through endless adoring #Bookstagram posts about Olivie Blake’s The Atlas Six – even though I never read it, I feel like I have. She’s one of the authorial unicorns, a self-published writer who went viral and got picked up by traditional publishing houses to put out best-sellers. So, when I pulled a copy of Masters Of Death out of my post box (kindly sent to me for review by the team at Macmillan), it wasn’t a completely unknown quantity.

The blurb makes Masters Of Death sound like just the right mix of dark comedy, satire, and paranormal. A vampire real estate agent is trying to sell a haunted house, and she seeks help from a scam psychic medium (who also happens to be the godson of Death). Kooky fun, right?

The tone is irreverent, but somewhat self-consciously so. Blake goes heavy on the adverbs, which takes some getting used to (the Prelude in particular was baffling). I found it pretty hard to sink into, before I even got to the Rube Goldberg machine of a plot.

There are just so many moving parts to Masters Of Death. There’s the vampire, and her poltergeist, and the psychic medium, and also Death, and then demons, and then the “game”, and then archangels, and a “ledger”, and a goddess, and contracts, and… Maybe I just haven’t read enough contemporary fantasy (or fantasy full stop), but I struggled to follow what was going on and it felt at times like Blake was being purposefully vague.

I did like the character of Death, though it was closer to the Markus Zusak version than the Jose Saramago. And once Blake finally revealed a few key plot points and motivations, it was nice to see some of it come together. I’d say Masters Of Death is a great pick for fans of Erin Morgenstern, and young adult fantasy readers ready to bump up into the books-for-grown-ups category.

Buy Masters Of Death on Booktopia here. (affiliate link)