9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.5 stars for this debut novel,
This review is from: Death's Daughter: A Calliope Reaper-Jones Novel (Mass Market Paperback)
This debut solo novel by actress Amber Benson (probably most well known as Tara from Buffy, the Vampire Slayer) focuses on Calliope Reaper-Jones (fantastic name!) who is called in to take over her father's job as Death when he is kidnapped. It's an interesting idea, and I was hoping that it would be a mature, well written, character driven piece of urban fantasy fiction. However, it never really lives up to its potential.
The main reason why the book just doesn't sit well with me is because the main character Calliope, is written very poorly. She is supposed to be a perky, pop culture referencing, twenty-something however she just falls flat as the main hero of the story for many reasons. mainly it is because of the way she is written, and as the novel is in first person this carries on throughout the whole book. She acts like a thirteen year old girl, and refers to things and people as either stupid, boring or jerkoids and it just put me off a bit because this made the book much more suited to a children's audience when it was intended for adults. I mean literally the word "stupid" appears at lease twice a chapter and it really makes you not like Callie. But the fact that she does nothing but cry and have other people do everything for her also puts the reader off as she can't seem to do anything without someone doing it for her. She also spends a lot of her time going on about shopping and going to the sale in Saks, which at times is a little unrealistic as why would she think about shopping in the middle of a quest? I did get the impression that Amber was trying to create a Buffy-esque character in Callie, but it just doesn't work here at all. The character's age could have easily been changed to thirteen or fourteen and it would have made little difference.
That said, the majority of the supporting characters are much more likeable and better written. Particularly Callie's sister Clio, executive assistant (and faun) Jarvis and even the dog Runt are the stand out characters here. In fact I think having Clio as the main character would have been much better, she is smart, adventurous and likeable. Some of the supporters do get annoying after a while, particularly when they are overused but they are still much more likeable than Callie herself and are needed most of the time to get Callie out of the mess she clearly can't get herself out of.
One thing which this book does well and what Amber Benson has clearly thought a lot about is the fusion of different mythologies. We have God, the Devil, Kali, Greek Goddesses, Hell, Purgatory, Heaven and much more all mixed into one and I think it works well and is one of the better aspects of the story. The story itself wasn't as good as I'd hoped, it wasn't as dark as I was hoping for, in fact I think if the sexual references were edited out or toned down, some of the language took out and Callie's age changed to thirteen this could have worked much better as a children's/young adults book. It has an adventure, lots of imagery and ridiculous scenarios which would probably appeal to the fans of Harry Potter and the likes.
Benson clearly knows how to write, and she has some great ideas, but my main problem with this novel is the unlikeable main character who just brings the book down so much! I'd say if you are a teenager then go for it, this book might be for you but if you are an adult looking for a good urban fantasy then this really isn't for you.