School Of Deaths by Christopher Maninno


*was given this book in exchange for an honest review - and that's exactly what I wrote!*

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This review has been a long time coming, however, today, I will be talking to you all about the up-and-coming novel: School Of Deaths by Christopher Maninno.

School Of Deaths is the first book in 'The Scythe Wielder's Secret' trilogy - a thrilling young adult series that encompasses both fantasy and adventure. Other reviewers have even compared this trilogy to Harry Potter, Hunger Games and Percy Jackson (three of my personal favourites).


Thirteen-year-old Suzie Sarnio always believed the Grim Reaper was a fairy tale image of a skeleton with a scythe. Now, forced to enter the College of Deaths, she finds herself training to bring souls from the Living World to the Hereafter. The task is demanding enough, but as the only female in the all-male College, she quickly becomes a target. Attacked by both classmates and strangers, Suzie is alone in a world where even her teachers want her to fail. 

As her year progresses, Suzie suspects her presence isn't an accident. She uncovers a plot to overthrow the World of Deaths. Now she must also discover the reason she's been brought there: the first female Death in a million years.


I'm a lover of all things fantasy - in fact, some of my most cherished books fit into this genre. The 'fantasy-themed' novels I usually read consist of werewolves, vampires, witches, wizards...and even the occasional Shadowhunter. So, I had certain expectations when I began to read this book, however, it ended up being nothing like how I imagined it.

In the best way possible.

Firstly, girl power is a consistent theme throughout this novel - which makes me, a self-proclaimed feminist and believer in equal rights for both genders, incredibly happy. Maninno created a protagonist - Suzie Sarnio - that is strong-willed, determined character that any girl, including myself,  can find inspiring and motivating. Suzie is unbelievably courageous, and I admire her ability to hold her own in a world where she is the only girl, and where she was mocked and scorned. Suzie being the only female, and being ridiculed because of it, actually eerily reminds me of the problems women in the real world have faced since the dawn of time.

From the very first sentence, I was hooked. "She wanted to scream, but no sound came. She wanted to run, but her legs wouldn't move. The hooded man grinned." Immediately these words made me ask questions, and straightaway, I knew this was going to be an interesting book.

Even though the situation that Suzie is in, as a student at the College of Deaths, is so out of this world, being looked down upon for who she was, and feeling alone, is something that I found quite relatable, which enhanced my enjoyment. As well as this, the way that Maninno built his world was effortlessly beautiful. Everything from the setting, to background history, and even the characters, was created in such a way that I could clearly delve into this story, and become truly enraptured.The College of Deaths was described in an amazing way, because made it in such a way that reminds you of your own world, however as you read on, Mannino weaves magic and fantasy through his description.

One of my favourite things about this book, was that it was quite reminiscent of Harry Potter. This is shown, for example, through the subjects at the College of Deaths reminded me of studying at Hogwarts, or the forbidden mountains where the Dragons live making me think of Hogwarts' Forbidden Forest. However, even though it still focuses on an area of fantasy that I have never really come across. The idea of being a Death was quite intriguing, and as Suzie uncovers why she had been taken to the "Gatehouse of the In-Between" close to the beginning of the novel, I too felt like I was discovering a part of the magical world that I hadn't considered. Through Maninno's writing, I felt as if I was Suzie.

Another character I loved as soon as he was introduced was Billy. "He was lanky but cute in a way. His eyes were brilliantly blue, like shining sapphires. The side of his lip curled up in a smirk, but deepened into a broad smile." That was the first description of Billy, and that was also the moment I fell in love - I mean, doesn't he sound gorgeous? I've always been a fan of a smooth-talking boy to drool over.

School of Deaths is a book like no other. It is a whirlwind of paranormality, adventure, mystery, girl power, and romance. If you are a fan of the genre of fantasy, no matter you're age, I highly recommend this novel! This novel is for people that like to read something a little out of the ordinary, and love intriguing surprises and good-old plot twists. If you read this book, you will be at the edge of your seat until the very end.

Favourite Quotes:

  • "Every night the same nightmare. Every night she heard the laughter. The hooded man with a scythe. The feeling of complete terror"
  • "This is the world between the World of the Living and the World of the Dead."
  • "To fade is a good thing"
  • "They expected her to fail, the only girl in a million years. She'd teach these boys something."

Rating: 4/5 

- Tyra xx


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