Title: School of Deaths
Author: Christopher Mannino
Genre: YA Fantasy
Thrust into a world of men, can a timid girl find bravery as the first female Death?
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.
Caught in the middle of a plot to overthrow the World of Deaths, Suzie must uncover the reason sheâ€™s been brought there: the first female Death in a million years.
Thirteen year-old Suzie Sarnio seems to be slowly wasting away, so thin that she can count every bone, everyone around her seems to think that she has an eating disorder. When death comes knocking, Suzie is not surprised. Suzie is brought to the School of Death, contracted to learn how to ferry souls onto the next world. When Suzie gets to the School, she learns that she has an even greater obstacle to face than suddenly being a Death, she is the only female Death to enter the School in one million years and the last female that trained as a Death, Lovethar, was brutally murdered. With a hard road set before her, Suzie not only has to prove herself as a female Death, but solve the mystery of the last female Death.
Suzie is a wonderful protagonist for this unique middle-grade paranormal fantasy. In a world of boys, Suzie holds her own and strives to prove herself. She deals with bullying, exclusion, loneliness and extreme odds with courage and creativity. The mystery of Lovethar was intriguing. I wanted to know what happened to this one other brave woman in a men's world and her tragic demise. I was really interested in the history of this in-between world, the war between the Deaths and the Dragons and the mysterious Elementals. Suzie's new world is left in a state of transition at the end with questions left unanswered, so I am sure we'll be seeing more of Suzie in the future installments.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Christopher Manninoâ€™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/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.
Mannino is currently working on a sequel to â€œSchool of Deathsâ€ as well as an adult science fiction novel.
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Crystal hadnâ€™t changed. The smiling redhead with large blue glasses and the ever-present smell of cherry bubblegum was her best friend. She was grateful Crystal had spent the summer away. â€œDid you have a nice summer? How was Colorado?â€
â€œMy summer was great. Coloradoâ€™s cold. Geesh, what happened to you, Suzie?â€
â€œIâ€™ve been sick,â€ said Suzie. Not a complete lie, obviously something was wrong with her, but she didnâ€™t know what.
â€œSick?â€ Her voice lowered to a whisper. â€œYou look like youâ€™re dying.â€
â€œIâ€™ll be fine.â€
â€œCrystaaal. Suzieee,â€ shouted a voice from across the parking lot.
â€œOh gawd, itâ€™s Monica,â€ said Crystal. â€œLetâ€™s go inside quick.â€
Suzie and her friend started to walk away, but the tall, lanky girl with small eyes caught up to them. Monica. She wasnâ€™t too bad, if you ignored her whiny voice and her inane stories.
â€œHiii guys,â€ said Monica. â€œI missed youuu this summer. Did you lose weight? The funniest thing happened the other dayâ€¦â€
Suzie realized the worst of the day was over. She got teasing looks from the kids and concerned frowns from the teachers, but like Monica, most people were too wrapped up in their own little world to pay any attention to her. Even Crystal eventually stopped asking questions.
â€œTell me again, do you like the way you look?â€
â€œIâ€™m sorry, what?â€ she asked.
Suzie snapped to attention. The day had blurred by, and she was sitting in Dr. Foxâ€™s office, wearing a hospital gown.
â€œSuzie, I asked if you like the way you look?â€
Suzie was cold and annoyed. The office smelled of bleach, and the fluorescent light overhead hummed like a dying fly. Dr. Fox glanced up from her notes and smiled a dry, lifeless smile she probably practiced in front of a mirror.
â€œNo, Doctor.â€ She repeated the same answers she had given last time, and the time before. â€œI despise the way I look. Iâ€™m a damned skeleton. You can see every bone. I love to eat, I donâ€™t purge, I hardly exercise, and I actually feel fine.â€
â€œYes, thatâ€™s the strangest part,â€ interrupted Dr. Fox. â€œEvery test seems to indicate that youâ€™re at the peak of health. No lanugo, no joint issues, no skin problems, and your stomach and the rest of you are actually functioning fine. Iâ€™ve almost completely ruled out anorexia, but your weight is still drastically low. Itâ€™s like your calories are vanishing into some other dimension.â€ She laughed. â€œMy husband wishes that would happen with me.â€
â€œMay I get dressed now?â€