Saint Death's Daughter
by C. S. E. Cooney
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Pub Date 12 Apr 2022 | Archive Date 5 Apr 2022
Nothing complicates life like Death.
Lanie Stones, the daughter of the Royal Assassin and Chief Executioner of Liriat, has never led a normal life. Born with a gift for necromancy and a literal allergy to violence, she was raised in isolation in the family’s crumbling mansion by her oldest friend, the ancient revenant Goody Graves.
When her parents are murdered, it falls on Lanie and her cheerfully psychotic sister Nita to settle their extensive debts or lose their ancestral home—and Goody with it. Appeals to Liriat's ruler to protect them fall on indifferent ears… until she, too, is murdered, throwing the nation's future into doubt.
Hunted by Liriat’s enemies, hounded by her family’s creditors and terrorised by the ghost of her great-grandfather, Lanie will need more than luck to get through the next few months—but when the goddess of Death is on your side, anything is possible.
"Soaring with love and absolutely fizzing with tenderness and joy--I have never read anything so utterly alive." -- Amal El-Mohtar
"Glorious." -- Angela Slatter, award-winning author of All the Murmuring Bones
"I loved Saint Death's Daughter to pieces." -- Katherine Addison
"Marvellous" -- Mike Brooks
"Just as magical as I knew it would be." -- Tiffany Trent
"Gorgeous, sexy, cruel and compassionate and funny. Such rich, delicious world-building and frankly lovable characters (even the baddies are compelling!). I relished every word." -- Liz Duffy Adams, author of Tremontaine and Whitehall
"Saint Death's Daughter is filled with lavish world building, lyrical prose, and characters to die for. C S.E. Cooney is a faerie queen barely trying to pass in the mundane world. This book is as luminous and flamboyant as she is." -- Tina Jens, award winning author of The Blues Ain't Nothin': Tales of the Lonesome Blues Pub
“Saint Death's Daughter is a triumph of a book, gorgeous beyond measure, fizzing with Cooney's love for language, her inventiveness in prose; it is also unbearably tender in how it addresses the idea of death and legacy, the love we can gather into a life before we curl to sleep in Death's arms.” -- Cassandra Khaw
"Cooney’s prose, is a vast, note-perfect song. There’s no voice like it." -- Robert V. S. Redick
"A mind-spinningly original bit of worldbuilding, and an emotional arc so moving that I cried like a baby." -- Caitlyn Paxson
"A giddy, glittering mosaic of incautious hope and over-generous loves" -- Kathleen Jennings
"It feels like overhearing a convo between Terry Pratchett and Susanna Clarke. A total must if you dig footnotes or fantasy." -- Patty Templeton
"Sumptuous, bawdy and layered as a mille-feuille... this book is impossible not to devour." -- Lisa L. Hannett
"This is a masterful work from a writer at the top of her game." -- Howard Andrew Jones, author of the Ring-Sworn Trilogy
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 217 members
Thank you to Netgalley, the author and the publisher for allowing me to read this book I downloaded this yesterday and I was captivated. I read it all in one night. I may be lacking some sleep but I fell in love with this book and it is on my favourites list now.
This C.S.E.Cooney is now an auto-buy author for me now I feel in love with the weighting style the characters plot and the progression it just hits right with me and what I enjoy in a book. i will be looking into her previous book now and probably loosing more sleep.
Thank you so much publisher for providing an arc! I just devoured this book. It was so nerve-wrecking so I can not express enough about the plot. The plot is so interesting that you will find yourself gasping everytime you find something new.
I really like the worldbuilding, and how the author can create a world that has the capability of making us vicariously live through it. I feel like the introduction was a bit too slow-paced for me. The characters are fairly interesting.
Henceforth, it was quite a good read.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Saint Death's Daughter by C.S.E. Cooney is an adult fantasy that will appeal to fans of Jay Kristoff's Nevernight trilogy or Sarah J. Maas's Crescent City. The story revolves around two sisters: Lanie and Nita. Estranged when they were children, Nita storms back to Stones Manor, the family estate, when Lanie is 15 years old. And Nita is not alone. Nita returns with Mak, a man who she can force to change into a falcon at will. Nita has the power of Fascination. Whoever looks into her eyes has to obey her will. But Lanie has her own powers. She can raise the dead back to life. What adventures will these two sisters get into?
Here is an emotional flashback from Chapter 1, which introduces us to the two sisters:
""Stoneses die young,” her big sister explained patiently. “We have to grow up fast if we’re to grow up at all.”
Hoppy Bunny’s sundered halves plonked to the ground. Lanie stared but did not dare cry. At best, Nita would laugh; at worst, Lanie would end up just like Hoppy Bunny.
“I won’t be here anymore to toughen you up, Miscellaneous,” said Nita, and for the first time that Lanie could remember, her sister sounded afraid. “Put your toys away. Work hard. Write me often. Don’t forget me.”
Last, a terrible cold kiss on Lanie’s brow.
Lanie was eleven when Nita left for school. And though she would regularly have nightmares about that day for years to come, what she always remembered when she woke up was this:
The real nightmare—Nita—was gone."
Overall, Saint Death's Daughter is an adult fantasy with plenty of world-building. Although Part 1 (the first 25%) takes place when Lanie is 15, there is a time jump in Part 2 to when Lanie is 22 years old. Just like Nevernight, there are plenty of footnotes, because the author's creativity could not be contained to the pages of the story. There is also plenty of humor. In fact, I was surprised by how light-hearted and "slice of life" this adult fantasy was. I had been expecting bloodshed or at least some action, but up until the 50% mark, there is little to no action. That is also the point when my interest began to wane, which is why I took off 1 star. This book seems to be more about daily living in the fantasy world. If you're intrigued by the excerpt above, or if you're a fan of adult fantasy fiction, I highly recommend that you check out this book when it comes out in April!
The blurb totally entranced me, and I couldn’t wait to jump in and experience this world. The plot was interesting and well thought out, and the world building was stunning! I really enjoyed the characters, which was great since lately main characters are just coming off as whiny and entitled into most of the books I read!
To be born into a family of royal assassins pretty much guarantees that your life is going to be... rather unusual. Especially if, like Miscellaneous "Lanie" Stones, you also have a vicious allergy to all forms of violence and bloodshed, and an uncanny affinity for bringing the dead back to life.
To make matters worse, family debt looms – a debt that will have to be paid sooner rather than later if Lanie and her sister are to retain ownership of the ancestral seat, Stones Manor. Lanie finds herself courted and threatened by powerful parties who would love to use her worryingly intimate relationship with the goddess of death for their own nefarious ends. But the goddess has other plans...
This is an intriguing world with an unique storyline. I like the magic described in the book and the world building is amazing. I love the heroine Lanie too. Love how independent and resourceful she is. The whole story is rather 'magical' for lack of a better word.
Thanks to the publisher for providing an arc.
Fun, whimsical, and macabre, Saint Death's Daughter reads like a glorious mashup of Gideon the Ninth and the Addam's Family. Miscellaneous "Lanie" Stones is a necromancer born into a storied household of wizards with a passion for death, nearly all of whom have died dramatically before their time (Cooney details the erstwhile family tree in hilarious little footnotes that read like tombstones in Disney World's Haunted Mansion). Lanie and her odd mixture of family, both blood and found, must contend with the ominous threat of the Blackbird Queen Bran Fiakhna and her polycule of shapeshifting wizard spouses to save each other and preserve their nation.
The world-building, while brilliant, can get a bit elaborate and hard to follow at times. Similarly, the prose is rich with adjectives and adverbs that give add plenty of quirky embellishment but sometimes lead to discursiveness that distracts from the plot. The magic system was fascinating, but I wish we'd been able to explore the other godly magic in more detail. I feel well-versed on necromancy, fire-magic and fascination (a type of magical compulsion), but when I'm being tantalized by wizard's who can slow time, create illusions, and turn invisible, it is hard not to crave more information. Which gods do their magic stem from? How is it similar or different from Lanie or Mak's magic? Generally, my main issue was this misplacement of detail: for example: contrary to the above, Cooney spends basically a whole chapter elaborating on Lanie's love for a couple of resurrected mouse skeletons,.
The true heart of this story, however, is the relationships between Lanie and her family. Whether it is the tense tutorship of Grandpa Rad, the solemn devotion of Goody Graves, or the childish fire of Sacred Datura Stones, this story shines when it is imparting meaning into Lanie's relationships, both living and dead. These moments of connection keep what can sometimes become a fairly grim story grounded in tenderness and humor.
"It was always the same nightmare. Lanie must have had it a hundred times. A thousand"
"Stoneses, he said, have been favoured of Saint Death since the days of the Founding Queen"
"Necromancers are rare and fragile, and the world is full of death. Especially for a Stones"
Fans of "Ninth House" watch out because you're going to love this book!
I didn't expect to like it as much s I actually did!
I probably thought that this would have been a good ya fantasy story with a little bit of mystery in it and maybe a romance ... I couldn't be more wrong.
I deeply appreciated the glossary at the very beginning of the book that gave the reader an idea of the timeline of the story and created an entire new universe I could experience.
The world-building, the magic system, the different characters and their own different genders ... all this details worked together to make this book more than amazing and pretty much surprising.
I'm not going to lie , I needed a bit to get into it but mainly because it was a complex structure of plot and characters' description that you have to analyse with attention and dedication to admire it completely.
I loved the main character and I loved how the author worked with different gender's pronouns in order to make the story even more intriguing!
A young, female protagonist with an allergy for death who has the ability to master necromancy and can speak with the ghosts , who's hunted , wanted by so many important families who dream of using her powers for themselves ... amazing !
"Your weakness isn't your allergy"
"Bless my should or what's left of it. I must say, Miscellaneous Stones, for once in your life you've impressed me"
I absolutely adored how the writing style involved passing from a simple narrative (that was never really simple) to poetry and verses. How everything involved some riddles and lullabies to give it an even gentler tone.
And I loved it even more when it dealt with people morphing into falcons or being possessed because of a spirit's rebirth!
So many amazing characters are part of this story just to make this world more enthralling!
I look forward to read more about it!
"I will learn from you ... And when I have learned bough, I will end you"
"Magic - like poetry - is what will suffice"
"We need no wings between us, thou and I."
Thanks to #NetGalley and #Rebellion for providing me with an eARC in exchange for a fair review.
The suitably spookily titled Saint Death's Daughter by C S E Cooney. Miscellaneous Stones, known as Lanie, is a Necromancer coming into her power. She is the first in her family in generations to have this particular esteemed & feared ability. But it has come too late, and the family debts have left her and her older sister in danger of losing the ancestral seat Stones Manor.
The novel has treachery, intrigue, love - both romantic and familial. Thoroughly enjoyed this!
#Fantasy #Necromancy #Magic #SaintDeathsDaughter
It's really long but a good read but it is wonderfully-written. It's fun and whimsical and the world-building is great. I was immediately drawn in by the cover.
This was an immensely original and creative story with excellent world building. It’s a story of found family and magic, necromancy and ghosts. The author has quite a way with names for her characters. My only complaint would be the length of the story- I’m pretty sure it could have been shorter! Many thanks to Netgalley for an arc of this book.
This gives off major classic Disney Halloween vibes! A whimsical fantasy that is utterly charming, complex, and unique
Saint Death's Daughter is an elaborate story - which did get confusing at times. At the beginning I had no idea what was going on, but slowly began to catch on. It's light compared to most adult fantasy book which I found to be refreshing.
The Stone's family tree is whimsical, detailed, and interesting. The characters are fun and charming, just as colourful and quirky as their names suggest. I am obsessed with all of their names!
The world and its history is so detailed and thought out, and the family tree is so fascinating and comprehensive. it is clear that the author has put her heart into the narrative and characters with considerable thought and meticulous execution.
However, it is so damn long!! Over 1000+ 'pages' on my Kindle, and also making it drag at times.
That being said I am still very much interested in finding out what happens next in this delightfully eccentric story. Thank you to Netgalley and Rebellion, Solaris for this eARC in exchange for an honest review
The main character reminded me a lot of Feyre and Aelin from the Maas world and loved how this story kept me gripped all the way through. It’s a new concept I’m starting to read and assassins are always a fun time!
This book was beautiful, lyrical and fantastical in all the best ways. It’s the kind of book you want to read and reread to comprehend all of the magic and stupendous world building. The characters are mesmerising and your antagonists just as fun to read about. It is surprisingly not gory while also being very gory and has a sense of humour and fun which can often be lacking in high fantasy. I can’t wait to read more of Cooney’s work
Saint Death’s Daughter is not for the faint of heart! This is not a light, fluffy, read-it-in-a-weekend novel. This is a high fantasy saga with a fully developed magic system that is deep, complex, and brimming with intrigue. Perfect for fans of Naomi Novik, Leigh Bardugo, or V.E. Schwab, this book has a dark side, so if you’re drawn to worlds filled with necromancers, reapers, and death magic, this one’s for you.
It’s a massively ambitious book, at nearly 500 pages, and with dozens of characters to keep track of (plus an incredibly complicated magic system), it’s an intimidating read, for sure. I’ll admit that it was challenging for me to keep the details straight as I read; I usually like to be reading more than one book at a time, but I couldn’t hold anything extra in my head with this one!
But the world-building is second to none, and the fascinating combination of royal assassins, looming family debt to settle, and the influence of the goddess of Death made this book worth the effort. A solid 4-star read!
Thanks to C.S.E. Cooney, Rebellion/Solaris, and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
A very interesting story of new magic, necromancy, poor relationships between power hungry people and the effect people have on each other. The names are super unique and I love that they all mean something and are plays off words that associate with their surnames!
Aw I’m so conflicted by this one.
This book had the potential to be absolutely incredible, like maybe one of the best fantasy books ever, dare I say it!? But it wasn’t.
Okay. A book with a load of different gods, magic, necromancers, an mc who has an allergy to death but can communicate with the dead in a way, fucking people that are also birds, magical royal executioners?! Honestly all of these, and just the blurb makes it sound insane, and it was in many moments. But oh boy was I confused a lot.
Right at the start there’s a guide explaining some characters, who the gods are and also what the days of the week and months are. At first I though ooh how helpful. But I was reading this on my super old tablet and it’s just impossible to flick back. And what is the necessity in changing what the days of the week and the months are?? There’s still the same number, it just makes it confusing, and often thinking when it told you the date, how long has this been since the last bit???
And I don’t even know how many names were mentioned throughout, a lot. More than there’s ever been in any book. And it switches between there actually name and nickname without any kind of help that they’re the same person (their names are really weird so it’s not obvious nicknames like Tom from Thomas eg. The mc is Lanie from Miscellaneous).
Not just the names, but weird words for things with no context or explanation.
However, when I did sort of know what was going on, it was really good! And I loved the characters of Lanie, Mak and Datu. And I thought the ending was great and not what I’d expected at all! It has been left as it could end with that or there could be another book. I would definitely read the next one but won’t be expecting as much.
Many thanks to Netgalley for an arc of this book; it was brilliant. I loved the complex world building, the intricate plotting and the wonderful prose which sometimes morphed into verse. It's possibly a tad long but overall is absorbing throughout.
3.5 stars rounded up
Firstly this is a massive arc, sitting at 1259 pages!
Don't let that put you off.
Magic, necromancy, gods, betrayal, family blood and found, this book has it all.
The action doesn't take place until over half way, it does give a good insight into the daily life of Lanie, Mak and Datu, as well as their new found family and the many threats that comes with being a necromancer.
I would have liked to dive deeper into the magic especially with Haaken.
Though I don't think I can ever look at a bird the same, especially a blackbird.
The world building while brilliant, sometimes took the focus away from the plot and was a little over done in places.
Though I Really struggled with part 1, especially with the character drop/overloaded, I couldn't quite grasp onto anything but I'm so glad I pushed through.
Saint death's daughter does give off stand alone vibes but is also left open enough for a sequel, which I wouldn't hesitate to pick it up.
Special thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for a free, electronic ARC of this novel received in exchange for an honest review
If you like detailed, action-packed fantasy with a macabre vibe, this book might be for you.
I couldn't put it down.
I liked the academic style of writing, with footnotes and information about magic and the different beliefs and cultures, as they suited the main character.
Lainie is a necromancer who is very young at the start of the book, but she grows into her power as the story unfolds.
This stood apart from other fantasy plots for me because it wasn't just about romantic relationships. It was about a girl who had been raised in an environment where she couldn't trust her family, and didn't get any love for them. The story shows her developing friendships and forging a family of choice, as well as pulling off some impressive magical acts.
The characters from different cultures and faith backgrounds reminded me a bit of Raybearer.
The aesthetic is part Addams family, part Shadow and Bone.
It's definitely worth checking out.
My first impression (and a lasting one) is that the naming of characters, places and things is completely charming - like our protagonist, Miscellaneous aka Lanie aka Mizka.
Saint Death’s Daughter features excellent worldbuilding, both in the current timeline and meandering into its history. The descriptions are detailed and very engaging, to the point that I lost the main story thread quite a few times, but if this world takes your fancy you’re going to have fun getting lost.
There is a large cast of characters involved, and I definitely found myself looking forward to the next scene that might involve my favourites who I LOVED. Conversely, any sections with my least-favourites seemed to drag. This book is on the longer side, so if you prefer a shorter tightly-paced book this definitely isn’t for you.
Thanks to NetGalley and Rebellion for the ARC.
Saint Deaths Daughter Review
Release day: April 12, 2022
Before Beginning this review, I would like to thank Netgalley and Rebellion publishing for approving me for this e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
Story: This book was very long, 1259 pages on the netgalley app so, VERY LONG. The story was super whimsical and interesting though. It was born with unique and homey ideas that left me chuckling and smiling. The fluffy adventure that arose in this novel was very entertaining.
Writing: The writing was classy and defined. The language itself was pretty and beautifully written. Sometimes the language bored me a bit, but nonetheless, it is easy to appreciate.
Characters: All of the Stones family were super peculiar and quirky, they all had distinct gimmicks and personalities. I think C.S.E Cooney did a wonderful job on character building, leaving them all complex and comforting.
World Building: The world building of Saint Deaths Daughter was very complex and at sometimes, very confusing. I wish that C.S.E Cooney have a better explanation as to the events and world happening.
Overall this book was super interesting but could've been done better. It was also very long, so it was a monster to get through. But I did really enjoy reading it despite my confusion occasionally. I would recommend picking up this book (it will probably be shorter as a print copy)
This one took me a while due to having to deal with replacing a tub that took upwards of a damn month (and because it’s a bit of a brick of a book), but every time I opened this to get through another bit, it was a luscious treat. The Locked Tomb series is going to be the first thing that people will draw comparisons to, because queer necromancers, but this is honestly an amazing world unto itself. It’s got very deep and intricate worldbuilding, but also the humor of Discworld, and doesn’t hesitate to make fun of itself both in the text and in the extensive footnotes. That humor and the inherent queerness in it brings some levity to what can be a really fucking dark text at times. It seems like Cooney is throwing a lot at the reader at first, but it all lands, while still setting up a few threads for future books. Laney, Granny, and her family and friends are all amazingly developed and fun to follow, and I can’t want to see what comes next here. Pick it up, it’s more than worth your time.
Amazing and gripping read.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for letting me access an advance copy of this book in exchange for my feedback.
OH MY GOSH THIS BOOK!!! Iwas gripped completely by this book and read it in one sitting missing a meal to finish it. it was so well written with well developed characters and a chilling feel that left me with goosebumps. It was so interesting and completely enaging. I really enjoyed it.
"Stoneses die young," her big sister explained patiently. "We have to grow up fast if we're to grow up at all."
And indeed, the Stones family has a complicated history of untimely deaths, mostly told through the footnotes at the end of each chapter. But that is not the only thing that makes them special: they have historically served as assasins to the royal family of Liriat and, most importantly, they all have rather extravagant names. Miscellaneous "Lanie" Stones is the youngest member of this family, and after her parents' deaths she and her sister must find a way to pay all their debt and avoid losing the family home, getting tangled up in some dangerous schemes along the way.
This story was incredibly ambitious, there was a lot of worldbuilding to do and a lot of ground to cover plot-wise, and yet the book didn't feel incomplete. There were some points I was left wondering about, like the exact workings of the magic system or other types of wizards, but all that was shown made sense. As for the plot, it was a bit dense for me, especially because it didn't move that fast until about halfway through the book, and so the characters (except for the protagonist) didn't seem to have that much room for development and connection with the reader. It also left a few loose ends, so I'm hoping for a sequel that will round everything up, but the book also works as a standalone.
Finally, I would like to mention the writing style, which was flowy but still made for a great narration. I think it was perfect for this story, with its aristocratic setting and eccentric characters. It felt humorous at just the right moments (the footnotes were a really fun aspect and their "serious" tone was perfect), but it somehow also made me feel worse for Lanie at her lowest moments. The weird family names were also a great touch, if a bit confusing at first, but they made complete sense after knowing a bit more of the family history throughout the book.
All in all, this was a great read. It's definitely not for reading in one afternoon, but if you like fantasy you might want to give this book a try.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review this book.
How do you review a book sensibly when all you really want to do is scream ILOVEITILOVEITILOVEITILOVEITILOVEIT!? I mean, I fucking loved it. But it did come from Netgalley so I feel obliged to make some sort of attempt. Reasons I loved Saint Death’s Daughter:
1. Lanie, the main character. She’s sensible and strong and whimsical and passionate and vulnerable. She puts mouse skeletons back together to resurrect them and then cries when she has to let them die again! SHE IS SO PRECIOUS I CANNOT. Also, imagine being born into a family of assassins while having a violent allergy to death. Yikes. It’s tempting to list fifty things Lanie does that make me adore her, but that would be kind of spoilery, so believe me when I say the mice are just the beginning.
2. Datu. I would die for Datu. That is all.
3. Canon Lir. I would also die for Canon Lir. They are the best.
4. There are in fact a lot of people in this book whom I would die for.
5. Whimsical gothic is one of my favourite aesthetics and this book hits it squarely. There are assassins, necromancers, lots and lots of dead people, mind control, a whole bunch of underground stuff, murder up the wazoo… and all of it is treated with a lightness of hand that makes it simply delightful. It’s serious too, at times. But also whimsical. I mean the main character is named Miscellaneous Stones. MISCELLANEOUS STONES. Was there ever so perfect and beautiful a name? No, never.
6. Found family. Another of my favourite aesthetics. There is nothing warmer and yummier than a sad lonely character whose family are a bit shit finding people who welcome and accept and adore them, particularly when they totally don’t expect it and all of a sudden realise that their life is FILLED WITH LOVE. The best.
7. The worldbuilding. ALL the worldbuildinggggggg. I mean, for simple plot purposes you could take out half the worldbuilding in the first few chapters and it wouldn’t change a thing, but books aren’t just about plot, are they? The little details and stories we hear in those first few chapters are just so fun and a great way of introducing us to Lanie and the world she’s grown up in, because really, Stones Manor is her world, at first, and it feels like a big complex one. We only get reminded of how small and narrow it actually is when Lanie finally ventures out into the wider world, which makes that revelation all the more effective.
8. The plot. It’s fun and engaging and I always find myself caring about whatever Lanie is trying to do. There are a couple of nice twists, and I’m super super eager to find out what’s going to happen in the next book, too.
This list feels entirely inadequate for a book that delighted me so much, but I’ve done my best. I really hope there’s going to be an audiobook, because I’d absolutely love to listen to this story, too. I already have my physical copy on pre-order. Anyway. Read this!
This was an absolute gem of a book! I don't make comparisons to Gideon the Ninth (or its sequel) lightly- but this absolutely has the same strange, beautiful, disgusting, messy love of life and death in all its forms permeating through every word. Lanie Stones is a wonderfully realised character (how fantastic to have a necromancer who is in love with life as well as death!) and her world is as detailed and well thought out as she is.
That last thing is what worried me going into this book- I loved the ideas and imagery in Cooney's Desdemona and the Deep but found the plot and characters a bit undercooked. This is something that Saint Death's Daughter absolutely corrects. There were several developments that I didn't seecoming at all but made absolute sense in the context of the characters and their world, and by the end I felt like I knew Lanie, Lir, Mak and Datu like old friends.
It's a beautiful book, honestly. I'm going to buy a hard copy when it comes out, and it's going to sit alongside The Goblin Emperor as one of my all time comfort reads. Thank you!
With many thanks to #NetGalley for an advance copy of #SaintDeathsDaughter, which enabled me to read the book ahead it’s publication date and let you know that you should a b s o l u t e l y check it out, if you enjoy the Locked Tomb stories, Addams Family circus (with more heartwarmth than the opening chapters might suggest), and a healthy mixture of humorous and macabre in your SFF. A queer-by-default world, family values clashing with found families, a really colorful, lush and humane take on necromancy, an unflinching portrayal of the price of violence and privilege and at the same time, a really over-the-top trashy sexy evil villainess, complete with her harem of wizards — so many things tossed into the mix, and the end result is a very gripping read. I swear, I was making noises along the lines of “I’ve no idea where this book is going” at 10, 20, 50 and 80% of the book and was so pleased to be stunned by plot twists up until the very last chapter. I admit I very rarely feel blindsided by the trajectory of the ride when I open the book, so I enjoyed very much when that happens. It’s not as breakneck as Nona the Ninth, but it’s also a much warmer narrative, with compassion and craving for community that infuses its pages via the narrator. I enjoyed the snarky footnotes, found the glimpses of magic other than that of Lanie’s intriguing (and hope for more info on them on them in later books), and generally found the book an enjoyable ride.
~Thank you Netgalley and Rebellion Publishing for allowing me to receive an ARC of this book!
•The concept of this book had me enthralled right away and the lore and magic imbued in this world were stunning!
•The plot is the reason this book got docked. I felt it was slow or there wasn't much of a plot. I love fluffy parts of books and filler in some senses but I feel that this book just dragged on with no real stakes set very high. If this book was shortened, I feel it would've been a lot better in plot and pacing, and it would definitely help the idea of there not being much of a plot. Besides this, the book was still good, just dragged.
• The author clearly spent a lot of time on developing characters and they did an amazing job at it. I got attached to most of the cast, and the unique races were very interesting to learn about. Development and actual human emotion were written so well in this story, and it was a key component in this story.
•This worldbuilding was DEEP and so so good. The different types of magic, rulers, courts, states, festivals, days of the week, etc, were all so fleshed out and are what really grabbed my interest. If the worldbuilding and characters were not this good I would have rated this lower due to the plot but they saved it and far exceeded my expectations for it.
•This book was good. Long and slow, but still good. Improvements on pacing and plot could have been made but this is still a solid and interesting book.
This is a fast-paced fantasy that is both funny and well written, with vivid characters and hilarious situations. The two daughters of Liriat's Royal Assassin and Executioner couldn't be more different. Amanita Stones is a cheerful psychopath who has bullied the younger Miscellanious (a.k.a. Lanie) since birth. But Lanie has a rare gift for necromancy -- and the Goddess of Death Herself as a patron. Amanita and Lanie will have to work together to save their ancestral home, Stones Manor, from the ambitious Scratch family. And when Liriat's Queen is murdered by the notorious Blackbird Bride and the Parliament of Rooks, Lanie is going to need all the help she can get.
Author CSE Cooney is a World Fantasy Award winner. It would not surprise me to see Saint Death's Daughter in the running for this year's award. This book will appeal to lovers of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Many thanks to NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
What a fun, interesting book! I did find it hard to get into but once I was immersed, I enjoyed the ride. The characters (Miscellaneous especially) were fleshed out and unique and I enjoyed Miscellaneous’s character growth. At times, the book dragged on a bit and I found myself confused in some places with how many characters were being introduced. But I stuck with it and I’m glad I did. Who doesn’t love necromancy? Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Wow! This was an amazing story. Very intricate characters and world-building. I found myself losing sleep wanting to read what came next. Sometimes it felt like it dragged along at times as the author liked to go into a lot of unnecessary detail, but it never lasted for long.
I loved the concept of Lanie having an allergy to violence. It was really interesting to read about her reactions, even if she's just retelling a memory. Very original idea that I thought was well done.
I will say that it's hard to keep track of all the gods and goddesses, the months and days of the week, etc. I kept referring to the front page of the book to remember what they were, which is annoying on a Kindle, so I had to write it down on a piece of paper to keep nearby for reference.
I LOVED this book!
The premise was amazing-a book about an assassin’s daughter with a gift for Necromancy and an allergy to violence was almost impossible to mess up.
The lead character, Lanie, is strong and quirky, and very likable, but it was her sister-Anita-who I really fell in love with.
It’s hard to say too much about this one without giving away the whole book, but it’s enough to say this-check it out! 4 BIG ⭐️‘S!
This book is a lot. I don’t know the last time that I read a book that felt so much like work to read but this was almost entirely worth it. I also know this book fits in with my reasoning for never looking at Goodreads ratings for recommendations because it punishes the different and rewards the mediocre.
In Saint Death’s Daughter we are introduced to Lanie, the youngest daughter from a long line of family Necromancers known for dying young and being evil. Lanie doesn’t quite fit the mold and has the powers but not the evil. We follow her through the years and through many separate trials and tribulations. I can’t really summarize better because I don’t even know what to focus on.
This book was like a demented love child of Nevernight by Jay Kristoff and (hear me out) DiscWorld by Terry Pratchett. I think something that a lot of the negative reviews were kind of missing was that this is a comedy, as well as high fantasy drama. The author uses footnotes and asides, historical ridiculousness, and dark humor throughout the story and peppered into the chapters. A lot of the information presented (and it's a LOT) isn’t necessary to the story itself, it's just some background in the form of a punchline. The story was darkly funny once you knew what it was getting at.
The world building, which is weighed down by just how expansive it is, is still very interesting and once picked up, amazing! We get multiple cultures, regions, religions, dialects, magic systems all in this one story. Which relative to the length of it (seriously if GRRM wrote this world this book would be five million pages long) is astounding. Much like Pratchett’s DiscWorld did over 40+books we get dark and humorous histories of families and conflicts.
The characters were lovely and diverse. Non-binary rep, casual poly, and LGBT+ relationships everywhere. Characters that seemed one note early would come back and be filled in wonderfully later. Lanie was so easy to support and love. I loved all the relationships in this. Even the conflicting ones because they were so interesting.
The plot was so interesting and jumped unexpectedly in so many places that I feel as if I read the plots of three books in one. So many interesting turns and twists that I was constantly engaged (only a little drag in the middle but I couldn’t even blame it, because I too, wanted Lanie to have a bit of a break at that point).
I absolutely loved the magic systems in this. It was so original for what should be probably written into the ground already but so many different ways of viewing magic even in the book itself! 5 stars for magic!
The only reason that this book is not five stars is because I feel that the writing has made it fairly inaccessible. This book was HARD to read and I was interested! But never, not once, could I just glide through the story. I know that might make it sound like I want to be lazy or something but…maybe I do. I want to be entertained and not necessarily so deeply challenged for said entertainment. And I don’t think that this book really needed to be like this.
The author seemed to just have an excessive use of a thesaurus and over complicated sentence structures. This becomes a problem even in CONTEXT of the story. When a certain language in the book is supposed to be particularly verbose and prose-y, its barely indistinguishable from the writing in the rest of the story. It didn’t stand out beyond its rhyming.
I had several lines that I would have highlighted on a regular app to show just how purple some of it was.
If I could have just sat back a little and relaxed in the moment and gotten lost in the words without having to have an ongoing brain workout for words I don’t regularly use this would be five stars. It's already pretty overwhelming with how much detail she put in, it didn’t need to be quite so difficult to just get through singular lines as well.
However, I would never tell an author how to write. Just a heads up, that this won’t really be accessible to all and maybe that is fine for them and their vision. But I think if they cut down just a little this could be a hugely popular series.
Tips for reading this: I saw a lot of reviews complaining about the months and days and gods all listed right at the beginning but don’t be overwhelmed by this. Its extra info and barely matters. When has it ever mattered if like Elizabeth Bennett met Darcy on a Tuesday in March? It doesn’t. Just like the days don’t matter here. Its just a cool detail that makes sense when a world doesn’t have our history. Same with ‘all the introduced characters that don’t matter’ - her history is like 90% jokes. Laugh at their silly death and move on. You don’t need to memorize them. Any Gods that become important are explained in the moment they do.
Final thought: I totally ship Mak and Lanie and I think I’m outta luck on that one.
Also: like all the violence trigger warnings! This is dark and brutal and definitely not YA, I hope they are not marketing it as YA. NA if anything.
Thank you to NetGalley and Rebellion publishing for this eARC in exchange for my honest review! This book will be available on April 12, 2022 if it sounds even vaguely interesting to you and you are willing to work a little then I totally recommend it!
This is a big book. Big. The unique names were my favorite thing. Every time a new one was mentioned, I smiled. Lainie's a blossoming necromancer in a family of assassins and executioners extraordinaire. With her parents dead, she and her older sister need to save the estate from the debt collectors. I have to admit, it was slow and "wordy". It takes me right out of the story when I have to stop to find the definition of big hihfalutin words. If this was an attempt to show they were of the elite nobility, it fell flat with me. Some I couldn't figure out even in the context of the sentence. The story was good, but I felt it needed edited and moved along faster. I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book from Netgalley. 3.5 stars
Right! This book seems to divide people quite a lot, and for good reason. What you need to know if you're thinking about reading it is, this isn't an easy read. It's not a book where you can skim sentences because there's a lot of information, think more Harrow the Ninth than other fantasy reads. However, if you're up for a bit of a challenge, and you love the Addams family and learning about the history of the family in this book, this is for you. I loved it - I loved the hilarious names of the characters (my favourites being Quick Fantastic Stones and Even Quicker Stones, lol) and I adored Lanie and her development. I saw a review mention that this should be a YA book because of the age of Lanie and that they DNF'd it quite early - there is a time jump in which Lanie becomes an adult, so this book is more suited to NA/Adult category.
I also LOVED how original everything was, from the names of the seasons to the names of the places and the history and everything. Despite all the information you're given, I don't believe any of it needs to be fully remembered to understand and enjoy the story. I don't recall all the names of the gods or the seasons but the author is very good in the way they use them, having characters re-explain or mention them in certain ways that you're reminded of what they are.
Basically, it's complicated, but it's worth it, in my opinion. Incredibly interesting, well thought out, well written, and funny at times, with a cast of three dimensional and original characters who crawl into your heart and don't get out. (Goody)
Thanks Netgalley for a free copy!
This is a strange and delightful writing style, it is so detailed it needs footnotes to keep it on track. this book was hard to put down.
What ultimately shone the most for me in this book is the way that theme, metaphor and worldbuilding all blend so seamlessly together to the point that I even struggle pulling them apart now, but I’ll do my best.
Let me start with the things that I enjoyed about the worldbuilding, specifically.
We’re dealing with a protagonist who performs death magic (Lanie Stones). This makes the setting and the plot inherently macabre, yet somehow Cooney manages to make death feel… whimsical and aphrodisiacal. There is a colorful whimsy to the world, particularly with the way that Lanie’s death magic works, and it gives me strong Studio Ghibli vibes. I’ve seen this book comped to Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, but I honestly don’t think that’s a good comparative title. If anything, it’s only a comparative title insofar as the necromancy itself goes. And I even hesitate to say this because Lanie’s necromancy doesn’t carry the same vibe as Harrow’s. Rather, it carries the opposite. Lanie’s necromancy—indeed, Lanie herself—is all about love. Lanie loves death as a mother, treats death as a mother, as the God that Death is—and she makes us love death in return. She helps up make peace with death. And that’s where the theme sneaks in, but I’ll save that for a couple of paragraphs just yet. So, let’s continue with what I enjoyed about the worldbuilding.
I enjoyed the multicultural setting. We have three nations whose cultures and histories are so interlinked that they become mirror images of each other. This doesn’t mean that they’re not distinct. On the contrary. They are incredibly distinct. What it means, is that we’re dealing with a setting where natural assimilation between cultures has occurred over decades, maybe even centuries, yet each culture still retains its own independence. From my own point of view, this reminded me a lot of the relationship between Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. To give an example: the nations share (some of) the same Gods, but call them by different names. To give another example: there are schools dedicated to one nation within another nation. Another example: each nation has wizards with wizard marks, but they all have a preferred type of magic, dependent on the God in question.
Speaking of the wizard marks, I found those to be a fun conceptual twist to the more familiar concept of a witch mark as these have been used both in fiction and in history.
But, going back to the multicultural setting, this also helped ensure that all the characters had incredibly distinct voices. One nation’s speech is built around rhyming and body language, to give an example. A lot of thought has gone into the linguistic elements of this book. Both in this sense, but also when it comes to placenames and people’s names. You have a constant sense of all these cultures mingling, yet staying distinct at the same time, all based on the terminology used.
Lastly, I loved the constant, but always subtle, subversion of gender norms both through clothing, make-up, and mannerisms. You won’t find traditional gender norms here—and it’s a delight to read.
Transitioning from the worldbuilding into the theme, this wasn’t really a book about death for me. This was a book about love. And that’s why I personally find Harrow the Ninth a misleading comparative title. This book has so much love—unfurling from Lanie’s own large capacity for love—that it didn’t give me the same vibe of Harrow the Ninth at all. But you also have to read a good part of the book before this starts to become apparent to you. The book opens with death, grief, echo wounds, and a literal allergy to death, but it ends with love as the answer to death. It’s about coming to terms with death through love. It’s a love-letter to funerals across the world where people smile through their tears.
Adding onto that, it’s also a question of where you put your love.
In the Gods? In your family? In your friends? In yourself?
Lanie uses love through death (magic) to set herself free from the bonds of her family legacy, all the while still honoring that legacy. And Cooney asks us, the readers, to remember that death is forever the sister to love. Or perhaps daughter, in this case.
As a last and slightly more critical note, I’ll say that the pacing and the plot both slow down at times. I struggled slightly towards the middle, personally. It’s a long book, basically, and that means it naturally will lose momentum at times. For most readers, that is. And especially for YA Crossover fantasy, which is what I would classify this as, age-wise, although there seems to be a general confusion about this (both from the audience and the publisher side). Cooney has magnificent prose, and that prose is allowed to flourish in this book, which can both be good and bad insofar as the pacing of the plot goes. Primarily, for me, it was good, even if I did struggle in places.
If I could rate this book higher, I would. It's fantastic, involved, engaging, heart breaking and fun (as well as many other adjectives). The only disappointment is that this seems to be the author's only full novel to date so I can't wallow in a deeper pool of them expressing their ideas.
Cooney has built an intricate world in which we follow one thread of possibility to fruition. On the way there, our main character must find her way first within her family (easier said than done), then within her own skin and, eventually, within the greater world as she knows it. What she finds is that what is expected of her as a Stones and as a necromancer can perhaps be accomplished on her own terms rather than everyone else's.
Miscellaneous (Lanie) Immiscible Stones is a necromancer. Her family honor the god of death (Saint Death). Their motto? “Stoneses die young”
Her family has a long history/bond with the reigning family and have made quite the name for themselves over the years… But all of that comes to an end, and powerful people want to use Lanie and her abilities for their own nefarious ends.
Adventure, death, romance, family, magic… it has it all!
This book is extremely well written. Love the world building, story and characters.
And… it is going to be a trilogy! I can’t wait to read more!
Lose yourself in a rich and vibrant fantasy world of depressed necromancers, ghosts, fascinating magic, heart-rending betrayal, and murderous intrigue with C.S.E. Cooney's excellent "Saint Death's Daughter." This book shines with a unique and overwhelming setting that contains a whole host of gods, faiths, ceremonies, laws, naming conventions, and small details that give the story an incredible sense of place that I greatly appreciated. Later chapters devote entire sections to exploring some cultural and civic practices that Miscellaneous "Lanie" Stones' home country of Liriat practices, which helped nail down a place and tone for the plot to thrive in.
And thrive it does, spanning multiple years and following one previously mentioned necromancer-in-self-training Miscellaneous Stones, her adventure starts with her being homebound and mostly loving it except for some inconvenient deaths and impending money trouble, which leads to a cavalcade of further misfortunes when summoning her abusive sister and heir to the Stone family name home from abroad to deal with the problem implodes spectacularly. One of my complaints with the book is that the way the story moves from point to point, especially though time skips, can be a little choppy, but with excellent character work and some shocking twists these gripes are easily set aside.
An incredible first look at a world I can't wait to visit again, with characters I am eager to see more of in the future. Well worth a read.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for granting me an ARC.
This book intimidated me. I felt like I'd aged fifty years because of how long it was. That said, I really enjoyed it! The main reason I didn't DNF was because I wanted to know what would happen. I wanted to continue and follow Lanie's journey. I do feel like it could have been two books, though.
We follow the story of Miscellaneous 'Lanie' Stones. A girl who has the power of death magic. A necromancer. The story starts with her at age 15, shy and timid of both her magic and her sister Amanita 'Nita' Stones, who returns home after the deaths of their remaining family members, their parents and aunt, bringing her an unwilling companion, Mak.
Years later, tragedy befalls the family as Nita is brutally murdered for her hand in the massacre of a parliament of sorts, the Rooks. The head of the Rooks decides she wants Lanie for herself and intends to induct the necromancer into her fold, but at a price. Lanie must kill her niece, Nita's daughter.
We follow Lanie as she struggles to protect her loved ones, shares a budding romance with best friend Canon Lir and begins to understand her magic more. She is determined not to let the Rooks win and will do anything to ensure her family and friends safety. I feel like the book has been left open for a second novel and find myself wanting to read it, despite its possible size. Thank you C. S. E. Cooney for a truly wonderful read.
What a brilliant read! I loved the cover and the blurb sounded interesting but had no real expectations beyond it being a new fantasy. It’s so good when you then discover a book that you absolutely love.
We first meet Miscellaneous (Lanie) Stones as a young girl after the death of her parents. She is the youngest daughter in the family of royal assassins and is that rare thing, a necromancer. However she also has a severe allergy to death and violence and suffers echo wounds whenever she is in the presence of these. Lanie is an absolutely brilliant protagonist and I loved reading her journey as she grows up and comes into her powers. She is fiercely loyal to those that she loves and extremely intelligent which is what enables her to survive everything that attacks her and her family. She doesn’t always get things right which just makes her more human.
The plot is complex but basically involves the Stones family fighting for their survival against other powerful families. There is a lot of political intrigue and double dealing as well as magic and the gods taking a direct hand in what is happening. The world building is incredibly detailed even down to footnotes in the text. There were one or two moments when I felt slightly confused as there is a lot happening, but these moments did not spoil my enjoyment of the story. I loved Lanie’s magic and the way that the different characters all have their own magical abilities.
The author has created a perfect blend of slightly macabre fantasy with a real sense of humour. For me, there were definite echoes of The Addams Family at the start, especially with the naming of the characters. There is a bit of romance, but this is very low key and certainly not the focal point of the book. The real themes are about caring for and fighting for those that you love and that your real family is those people, not necessarily the family you were born into.
This is definitely one of the best fantasy books that I have read this year and I’m really grateful to Net Galley and the publishers for providing me with this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Saint Death's Daughter by C. S. E. Cooney 5 stars!
I swear, I'd rate this book a Milky Way amount of stars, I loved it that much! One of my absolute faves of the year, and up there with those I know I'll return to again and again.
I'm going to try not to wax lyrical as I prefer to keep reviews brief, but I would highly recommend to anyone looking for an exciting, astonishing, diverse, emotive new fantasy read!
Bits I liked:
- felt fresh and exciting, a new experience in both content and style
- thrilling plot, many emotive ups and downs balanced by quiet, gentle moments, and a killer finale!
- strong descriptive writing with poetic flair, and an intelligent, creative use of unusual and unique words
- wonderfully developed characters with fascinating stories & abilities, with diversity across the BIPOC, LGBTQIA+ and Disabled spectrums
- interesting magic system, cultural differences and even calendar features
- humourous footnotes giving clever snippets of additional lore
Bits I liked less:
- literally nothing, I adored it
- some people may find some of the content disturbing, with some violent scenes or descriptions, so worth noting
- the writing style really surprised me at first, so it's possible some readers may find it harder to get into or follow at points
I'm pretty sure there's more to come, so I CANNOT wait to immerse myself back into Lanie, Lir, Mak, Datu and sweet Doédenna's world. thank you to NetGalley, Rebellion Publishing and of course C. S. E. Cooney for the wonderful experience!
Whimsically dark and fantastically creative this magnificently macabre fantasy is possibly the most original and enchantingly eccentric book I’ve read so far this year and I must say, I enjoyed it.
Lanie Stones, the youngest daughter of Liriat’s Royal Assassin and Chief Executioner has never led a normal life. Born with a gift for necromancy and allergic to violence, she was raised in isolation at the family’s crumbling mansion by her friend and revenant Goody Graves.
But when her parents are murdered, it falls to Lanie and her murderess sister Nita to settle the family’s debts or loose their ancestral home—and Goody with it. Appeals to Liriat’s ruler are ignored …until she too, is murdered throwing the entire nation into doubt.
Hunted by Liriat’s enemies, persued by her family’s creditors and haunted by the ghost of her great-grandfather, Lanie needs more than luck to survive the next few months—but when the goddess of Death is on your side, anything is possible.
The world-building was absolutely incredible and so vividly detailed; exploring different religions, cultures, languages and even magic systems that I found myself totally immersed. The history and Lore incorporated was also really enjoyable—if rather dark—honestly, I could’ve spent the entire novel just reading about the darkly humorous conflicts, gossip and overall ridiculousness surrounding the Lanie’s family.
Likewise, I really liked our protagonist, Miscellaneous “Lanie” Stones, who suffers from an allergy to violence (on top of her extremely rare gift of necromancy) and thought it was really interesting to see how she navigates life and the dynamics of her family, who thrive off their long and illustrious history of violence. The long cast of supporting characters that seemingly gravitates around Lanie is also really entertaining and thanks to the first person perspective we get a lot of details into them all. My faves were Goody Graves (the long suffering and centuries old Revenant bound to the Stones ancestral home), Canon Lir (Lanie’s friend, confidante and love interest) and Datu (Lanie’s niece & daughter of her incredibly unlikeable sister, Nita.)
I’m unsure if it was intentional , but the Stones’ family really reminded me of The Addams Family (which is something I really enjoyed) they even have a butler-type servant in the revenant Goody—who’s for the most part quite Lurch-like both in proportions and demeanour. Goody is also portrayed as a bit of a surrogate mother for Lanie and I found their relationship/ dynamics were more emotional than any of Lanie’s familial bonds—I just loved these two in their scenes together.
Though I did enjoy this overall, I did feel that the plot could’ve been more concise and the exposition pared back just a little as the pace did slow considerably in the first and middle portions of the book. But, if you love a slowburn, detail orientated fantasy then I do recommend you check this one out.
Also thanks to Rebellion Publishing and Netgalley for the e-arc.
Saint Death’s Daughter by C. S. E. Cooney
Pros: fascinating magic and mythology, interesting characters, great world-building
Miscellaneous ‘Lanie’ Stones is the first necromancer born in over 100 years in the city of Liriat. Her family has been the right hands of the ruling Brackenwild family since the founding, acting as royal executioners and assassins. Which makes Lanie’s allergy to violence a challenge to manage. So she’s raised by the family’s revenant, Goody Graves. After a series of events leaves her older, sadistic sister Nita in charge, Lanie’s life changes. As she grows both in wisdom and power, Lanie struggles to live up to the expectations of the past and forge her own future.
Lanie is a wonderful character, surprisingly kind and loving despite her limited human contact and dysfunctional home life. Necromancy is usually depicted as evil and gross, so seeing Lanie’s pure joy in her power and love of the creatures she reanimates is nice to see. I also loved this depiction of the goddess of death.
The larger cast is a mix of nice and terrible characters. Nita is simply horrifying, willing to use her power of fascination to force people to do her will. I had real sympathy for Mak and the abuses he suffers. Canon Lir was intriguing, and the friends Lanie makes later in the book were a lot of fun to hang out with.
The world-building was great, with several distinct cultures represented. I was impressed with the depth of detail given to each culture, making them feel very real.
The story is slow moving at times, giving you the chance to really get to know the characters and world.
The ending left me feeling melancholic. This is the first book in a trilogy so while a few story threads are tied up, there are some major threads left unresolved. It’s an ending that I had to sit with for a few hours to better understand and appreciate.
It’s a great book that does some unique things.
I really enjoyed this book! This is an epic new world, with an amazingly intricate magic system.. I loved it.. There is alot of world building through out the first half of the book, but were learning it along side Laine or as she is teaching it to someone else.. I love the stories she tells Datu about her own family members they were completely outrageous and hilarious and awful all at the same time..
This the tale of Miscellenous aka Laine Stone.. a necromancer growing up in a family of well... very interesting people. Assassins, gamblers, and a whole house full of people that have no problem with torture and murder. which is a problem for Lainie, as when she is close to violence in manifests on her own body. So she basically ends up on her own with only the house Revenant Goody, and her ghostly Grandpa Rad (Irradient Stone) as companions and teachers. All Laine wants to do is protect whats left of her family and she will do whatever it takes to keep them safe.. Which they don't make easy.. This is along tale that cronicles Laine and her growing power as she finally comes into her own and realizes her destiny.. While it was certainly wordy at times I really feel like this is how the story needed to be told I wouldn't change a thing even how long it was lol..
I really think that this would make an amazing audio book, the whole time I was reading I kept thinking that this is a story I would love listening to.. Also after that epic finale, I can't wait to see what will happen in the next book.
~reliquaries > roses as the Most Romantic Gift
~Do you floomp or do you froof???
~The dog does not die
~Real necromancers love life
~don’t trust the birds
~dress your school up like a brothel to trick people into an education
A very few times in my life, I’ve encountered books that make the universe entire shift into alignment, books that are the culmination of every moment from the Big Bang to now. Books that feel like the reason the Big Bang happened, like everything that has ever existed did so just so that these books could be written and published and put in my hands. Like every moment that ever was has been leading up to this one.
Books that feel like the point; of the world, of humanity, of me.
Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey. The God Eaters by Jesse Hajicek. Palimpsest by Catherynne Valente. A few priceless others.
And, now, Saint Death’s Daughter.
How are you supposed to talk about a book it feels like you were born to read?
Take a generous handful of edible candy jewels and mix them into a casket of perfectly-cut gemstones. Stir in the most beautiful sugar skulls you can find. Add red velvet and pink tulle, spangles and razor blades, sequins and silver spearheads. Choose the most perfect, moonstone-gleaming bones and entomb them lovingly with your treasures. Breathe life into little mice skeletons to watch over your hoard. Give them tutus and tiaras and burning blue fire where their eyes would be. Give them cuddles and kisses and names.
Cast royal blood in a circle around it all, and set that blood alight.
Et voilà: Saint Death’s Daughter.
<In all her twenty-two years, Lanie had mainly kept company with forty thousand skeletons (mostly furniture), a ghost (megalomaniacal), and a revenant housekeeper (seldom garrulous).>
The thing is, I don’t want to tell you much about this book. I want you to experience it the way I did; a cake whose every layer is more delicious than the last; a gemstone that always has another glittering facet when you turn it over in your hands; a gift that never stops giving. And part of that was the surprise, of going in not knowing what to expect. For once, I have no argument with the blurb being coy with information. This is a book you should go into unprepared.
Lay down your armour. Your cynicism, your scepticism, your grown-up-ism – set them all aside. The part of you that frets about what other people think, the part that would be too embarrassed to dye your hair rainbow colours or deck yourself in glitter, the part that’s too shy to get up on stage and sing karaoke even though you’d love to – let all of that go.
You don’t need them here. Saint Death’s Daughter is an escape, and it’s an escape because it’s true, because it taps into something real and rare that too many of us struggle to remember: life is fucking wonderful, actually.
Saint Death’s Daughter is joy. (Not a joy – although that too! – but joy.) It’s a feast, a banquet, a ball, rich and glittering and strange and perfect. This is a book about a necromancer but it is fundamentally a book about life, about the love of life, about how beautiful and wonderful it is to be alive in the world.
<Love was the Dreamcalling, love the Great Wakening, love the foundation of the Maranathasseth Anthem. It was the finest of all reasons to live–and after death, to live again.>
You would not believe how long it’s taken me to write this review, or how many drafts I’ve started and scrapped. I simply don’t know how to talk about it. But something clicked recently, and I realised what it was I was struggling to put into words about this book:
Saint Death’s Daughter is the opposite of depression. The exact opposite. It is the opposite of depression, distilled.
<She wanted to eat everything and everyone right down to the bone and suck the marrow clean.>
This book is giggles and glory, richness and rawness, sweet and seraphic and swish. It is ornate and orphic, jubilant and jocose, luxurious and luminous and lit. It is flamboyant and fierce, dashing and devious, iridescent and intoxicating, extravagant and effervescent and epic. It is candyfloss and glitter and toe-bones as love-gifts; a literal, physical allergy to violence in a babe raised by a revenant; jewelled nail-talons pricking fingers so you can wield blood-fire. It is rich in everything, and overflows with love and life and gorgeous prose, an ivory cornucopia of unstinting, unending magic. Literal magic: necromancy and shapeshifting and blood-fire-wielding, deities and revenants and ghosts, even one character who can slow down time. But also the kill-for-you die-for-you live-for-you magic of family and friendship, and I don’t care if that sounds like a Hallmark card, it’s genuine and moving and caught my heart in my throat.
It is everything at once, and I don’t know how that’s possible – I don’t know how you can have Epic Fantasy vibes and a school set up inside a brothel to trick would-be patrons into getting an education, how you can have green moustaches alongside terrifying Blackbird Brides, how you can have divine benedictions alongside mispronounced lemonade. I don’t know how you can have Fire Knights next to froofing, how footnotes full of glorious silliness can go so well with scenes that will have you sobbing, or how any one story can juggle so many different kinds of love and make them all balance perfectly, none outweighing the others. I don’t know how a single book can make me gasp and beam and cackle and quake and pother and hiss and whoop and goosebump and cheer and crow and curse and cry, but I can only assume each of the 12 gods of Athe blessed this book like fairy godmothers and these are all the gifts they gave wrapped up in paper and ink.
Saint Death’s Daughter is absolutely a gift.
<“Bless your prism eyes, that see rainbows trapped in the plain plumage of your fellows.”>
(I wish I could take it through a time-machine back to baby!Sia, leave it on her pillow so she’d know that being weird is wonderful, is something to be celebrated, not only is there room for you in the world, the world wants you. You’re going to grow up in a world where this gets written and published and it will be good.)
<“But, as you Lirians say, ‘a salacious selling point is the first friend of social change!’”
Lanie lifted her head. “Wait. We say that?”
“Sex sells,” Canon Lir translated.>
It is delightful. It is whimsy writ large and bolt and brilliant; it is gutpunchingly powerful; it had me breathless with laughter one minute and my blood pounding at the poignancy the next. It is as extravagant as a Guo Pei fashion show, as exuberant as a Pride parade, as stirring and beautiful as Día de los Muertos. It is an exhilerant – an exhilarating accelerant of a book, lighting you up with elation.
It’s impossible to sing its praises too much or too loudly, just as it’s impossible to point to anything – anything! – and call it a flaw.
For real. Usually I’m able to take a step back and admit that however much I love the thing, this and this and this could have been better. I pride myself on my ability to be objective like that. But here? It doesn’t matter how far I step back, I can’t see any stretch marks. I can whip out the magnifying glass, the microscope, and I still can’t find anything to critique. Not one single thing. Not the characters, not the dialogue, not the plot, not the worldbuilding, not the relationships, not the villains, not the quests, not even the outfits. Not even the TIME-SKIPS, and we all know how impossibly difficult those are to utilise well! But not even them.
<Mak was taking all of his daughter’s daytime dreads and re-shaping them into a beautiful nighttime myth, the same way he reshaped his body with sothaín into the very essence of his prayers.>
And I do think I’m being objective when I say that. Why do you think this hit me so hard? Why do you think I’ve been struggling like I have to talk about this book? It is literally perfect. Just thinking about it now genuinely, honestly brings tears to my eyes so my glasses get all smudged up. I have had to take so many breaks, typing this up. I can’t – there aren’t words.
<She felt surrounded by a lifetime of Canon Lir’s letters. It was as if she moved through the world protected by the walls of an invisible library>
There aren’t words, so I made one, because that’s apparently what I do whenever I’m given a new Cooney book. Thus: the only way to describe the world of Athe that Cooney has created, this book she’s written about it? Is athegravagant. Saint Death’s Daughter is athegravagant, and you’ll only understand what that means if you read it.
Just. This is my book, folx. This is The Book, for me. This is everything I ever wanted and everything I didn’t know to want.
(Except a unicorn. I must admit that I did not spot any unicorns, but! This is only the first book in a series and so I will hold out hope that there will be one later, and you know what, even if there isn’t, Saint Death’s Daughter is still perfect.)
I’ve never read anything like this before. I’ve never experienced this sense of – of being seen and loved and celebrated by a book. I don’t know what to say. I want to sit here and write pages and pages of adoring analysis on each and every character, even the villains; I want to write epic love poetry to the worldbuilding, which is beyond anything I’ve ever encountered, or thought possible, or thought was allowed. I want to create altars to the gods of this book, Doédenna and Sappacor and Amahirra and Ajdenia, Kantu and Enjoloth and Wykkyrri and Brotquen, Lan Satthi and Aganath and Yssimyss and Kywit, and that sounds Extra as hell, doesn’t it, but the thing is, I’m not kidding. I’ve never seen gods who feel so much like gods before, I’ve never come across an author who managed to make me believe in fictional deities, who wrote the grace and majesty of them so well that every time they appeared on-page I understood what it was I was supposed to feel in cathedrals as a kid.
So trying to talk about this book feels…impossibly intimate. I want to shove a copy into everyone’s hands, but I feel shy about it too, like it’s private.
I know it’s silly. It’s just that it’s true, too.
It doesn’t take a prince, after all, to turn blood into light.
If you crossed Catherynne Valente with N.K. Jemisin, you might be lucky enough to get something almost as extravagantly epic as Saint Death’s Daughter. You might, just, come close to the wealth of word-love and magic and strangeness and wonder and JOY. You might, almost, brush your fingers against the edges of vast, impossible imagination and creativity that went into this world, these characters, this book.
I said there aren’t words, so I invented one – exhilerant – because that’s apparently what I do now whenever I’m given a new Cooney book. But here’s another; because the only way to describe the world of Athe that Cooney has created, this book she’s written about it? Is athegravagant. Saint Death’s Daughter is athegravagant, and you’ll only understand what that means if you read it.
Hi. My name is Sia. Here’s my heart in a book. I think it might hold yours too.
You should read it and see.
Really interesting concept of a book, the blurb draws you in and then the plot delivers the killing blow.
Life gets complicated when Death gets involved.
To be born into a family of royal assassins pretty much guarantees that your life is going to be… rather unusual. Especially if, like Miscellaneous “Lanie” Stones, you also have a vicious allergy to all forms of violence and bloodshed, and an uncanny affinity for bringing the dead back to life.
To make matters worse, family debt looms – a debt that will have to be paid sooner rather than later if Lanie and her sister are to retain ownership of the ancestral seat, Stones Manor. Lanie finds herself courted and threatened by powerful parties who would love to use her worryingly intimate relationship with the goddess of death for their own nefarious ends. But the goddess has other plans…
The characters were great and really diverse with lots of different representations. The characters developed throughout and would jump in and out of the narrative. The main character was easy to love and I found myself routing for them.
The plot was so interesting and was ever-changing so I didn't get bored, with lots of twists and turns.
A very cool premise and and very well done. I liked the characters and the development but I did find the book a bit long overall.
Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for providing me with an arc for an honest review.
Saint Death's Daughter is a wonderful spooky fantasy that is utterly complex and unique! While the many components of the story got consfusing and it is somewhat of a slow start it was worth it all in the end. The quirky characters, detailed world and history of the characters create a beautiful narrative that keeps you wanting more on every page.
I read 20% of this book and realized it wasn’t for me.
As far as I can tell it seems to be a wonderfully written YA novel and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to readers who enjoy YA. I had hoped that the fascinating premise would win out over my general disinterest in YA, but I just couldn’t get into it.
(I’ve rated it based on what I think a fair rating would be from someone who enjoys the genre.)
Huge thanks to Rebellion Publishing and NetGalley for the e-arc of Saint Death’s Daughter by C.S.E. Cooney in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.
I’d heard a few descriptions of this book before I started it, which were a little mixed and initially when I forayed into the first few chapters U had my doubts. There was a lot of information to absorb, not withstanding the family history, days of the week, etc, but then it clicked and I absolutely must say this book is an utter f***king delight!
Miscellaneous (Lanie) Stones is the youngest daughter in the family of royal assassins and a necromancer, with a severe allergy to death and violence, she suffers echo wounds and huge allergic reactions whenever she is in the presence of violence or death…the touch of someone linked to any form of violence is shockingly dangerous to her!
Lanie is introduced as a child, and her growth throughout the book is fabulous. She definitely takes a journey physically, mentally, emotionally, intellectually and magically! Despite or maybe as a rebellion against her upbringing she is an amazingly loyal, empathic, emotionally strong, fierce survivor, she loves those around her resolutely and applies her intellectual and emotional intelligence to learn and be better!
Saying this, Lanie still makes mistakes, which just makes her more human, but her strength lies in learning from those mistakes and recognising that she isn’t alone and does have allies with the same aim as her.
The world building and plot in this book are complex, but the footnotes (delivering a definite Pratchett-esque vibe,) are supportive and amusing. This is a world of politics, political families fighting for survival amongst a macabre magical society, dominated by Gods, magical seasons and surges, and plots aplenty.
At times the plot is so complex that you do need to step back, think about it and return to reread certain sections, which for some I can see being frustrating. However, I found the complexity to be all the more engaging. This book is an onion. There are layers upon layers of intrigue, plotting, gods and the undead. Talking of which, a total shout out for Goody and Grandpa Rad - amazing characters for totally differing reasons that I dare you not to be enthralled by.
This book calls upon some key themes, including love, familial and to a lesser extent romantic, found family rather than the family you are born into, loyalty and protecting those you truly care for, whilst trying to do what is right.
In terms of how this rates as a fsntasy, it’s definitely in my top 5 overall, nudging some strong contenders aside and I really can’t wait to read the next chapter in Lanie’s story! Definitely grab this one with both hands when it’s released, find your quiet comfy spot and carve out time to be pulled into Lanie’s world!
Thanks to Netgalley and Rebellion for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!
I'd say this is somewhere in the 3.75-4 star range.
Saint Death's Daughter is an absolute sensory treat, with expansive world building and genuinely delightful characters.
This was, however, one of the most challenging reads I've come across in awhile, and I haven't had to work this hard in a long time. For the first third, I found the writing so lyrical and... dense? that I almost felt drunk while reading it. In many ways it is like Terry Pratchett's Discworld had a very bizarre baby with a Tim Burton movie, and I could almost hear a whimsical but also a wee bit creepy underscore of music playing in the background while I read. Don't get me wrong, though, I do think that all of the work I put into reading this was worth it, and I think this work was wholly original—I think that comparisons to Gideon the Ninth are unfair to both books, because apart from the necromancy and macabre vibes, they are quite different (even the kinds of macabre are different: I'd say Saint Death's Daughter is macabre, but if you slathered a layer of whimsy over it). The writing in this is so visual that I am really excited to read this one on audiobook when I get the chance, and I hope there is some sort of visual medium adaption at some point, because I think it'd be absolutely beautiful.
The other thing is that this book is long, and a lot happens. At times I found myself wondering why this wasn't multiple books, but when I got to the end I understood why and how all this fit into one volume. It's a laborious read, but again, I thought it was very worth it. This is the kind of book I want a physical copy of to take highlighters and sticky notes to, to make connections and write theories and so on and so forth. It was a delightful read, and I enjoyed it, and I think if you're ready to work hard and be ready to be delighted as well as bewildered, this one is absolutely for you, and I do think that this is the kind of book that would just grow and expand with reread upon reread. In any case, I sure do hope this is a series because I simply must know more.
Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC! The book definitely seemed very interesting and exciting to me. The world is built very well, the characters are extremely diverse and interesting. But at the same time, it seemed too long. I love the way the author writes. I can tell that she have inexhaustible ideas and tried to pass it all on to a piece of paper but it can definitely be divided into at least two parts so that everything can be built even better. There are gods, undead , and definitely a lot of intrigues , and at times it was very difficult for me to keep an on top with everything that was going on. At times, I was like, "What are you" or "God, what was that, I have to go back and read again." There is definitely more positive than negative things for me in this book so my rating is 4⭐ / 5. I liked it, but as I said I wish it was split into two parts. However, I would definitely recommend it. If you like this genre ,it is definitely worth reading the book and getting acquainted with the amazing world in it! But yes.. You will need more time to read! I'il follow the author with great interest for her next books.
The voice in this book is mind-blowing! I just fell in love! The writing is beautiful, the main character is fascinating and the world is masterfully crafted. This is not for the novice in fantasy, though. This novel will not hold your hand, will throw a lot of worldbuilding your way, a complicated magic system, entire cultures, and will certainly not go where you expect. To top it all off, the atmosphere is totally Adams family-like, vibrantly grim and gleefully dark. I had a blast - definitely one of my favorite reads of this year!
Saint Deaths Daughter is an absolutely fascinating tale. The levels of intricacy that Conney has reached with her story telling is limitless.
This book came highly recommended to me by @across_my_shelves who read it and was convinced I would love it, so I was really pleased when @rebellionpublishing granted me access on NetGalley. However the beginning left me confused and almost ready to give up, it wasn't that the story wasn't good or it wasn't well written, quite the opposite in fact, so I kept going and I'm so glad I did! In the end this diverse, chaotic, high fantasy, coming of age saga enthralled me and left me very much wanting more. I'm invested in the characters and I can definitely envisage a sequel! I can only hope we don't have to wait too long for it! Maybe just long enough for me to have a detailed reread and tab so I know I haven't missed anything!
Thank you to Rebellion and Netgally for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
First of all, I need to preface that this book ranks closer to a 4.5 stars and also this is one of those books that is Very Much not for everybody. Not in regards to triggering content (though, general content warnings for violence, body horror, manipulation, and the like should be recognized), but just because it is a very stylistically distinct novel. And I loved it!! It was the super in-depth worldbuilding I love from high fantasy, with an air of absurdity and a truly novel and well-fleshed out world.
The cultures all felt their own, rather than a 1:1 parallel to cultures in our world, the magic systems /fit/ so tidily into the world, and all of the characters really fit into the context of their environments.
However, my issues/the things hat might turn others off: the plot meanders. The plot wanders and dips, fluctuates and spans random gaps of time. While I could feel the tension building, at some points I wondered /where/ it actually wanted to take me. However, I do think the ending deeply paid off and I am genuinely so excited to see the next book. The other issue, that I noted earlier, is that the book is very distinctive stylistically. The writing is so, so tense, and so gorgeous, but also it could have very easily done with another pass of edits or two to hone it into something more.
But, those issues aside, I genuinely loved the world and characters presented, and I'm so so excited to read more in the future.
Some fantasy novels are light and airy, one-bite meals that you consume quickly and are left wanting more. Others, like C. S. E. Cooney's Saint Death's Daughter, are hearty, thick (in a good way, like a fine chowder or pudding) affairs that you have to slowly make your way through to appreciate every morsel. Cooney's characters are incredibly detailed and layered deep in development and growth; their actions echoing through the novel. The worldbuilding is immense and intricate; the list of places/names provided at the start came in handy (rather than just adding length). I also really appreciated Cooney's humor throughout the book, carefully placed to break up tension or gloom, especially in the clever footnotes. Definitely not a pick up and finish in one sitting book, I wholeheartedly recommend Saint Death's Daughter to fans who like prose and humor with their fantasy.
What an amazing book this is, it kept me enthralled from the very first word to the last. The language is lyrical, the people real, even the fantastic events are believable.
Spoilers are not my thing, language is and here is a sample - "Mistress Scratch was tiny in stature but voluptuous in build, with the near-translucent whiteness of skin that most Skakis had . The delicate sag of her chin and the bags under her eyes were wrinkled like raw silk purses, her lips pale and unpainted, her eyes a glacier-bright turquoise-y white. Her boundless black curls probably owed more to chemistry than nature. Either that, or she knew a really spectacular wig-maker."
Saint Death's Daughter's 5 star rating puts it on top of all the other books I have rated 5 stars in the past year.
If you are into Fantasy, this is a real treat and you know you deserve one!
Saint Death's Daughter is a new Fantasy novel by author C.S.E. Cooney, and apparently the first in a new trilogy (although this works entirely fine as a stand alone). It's also sort of a coming of age story, featuring powerful necromancer Miscellaneous "Lanie" Stones, a girl born into a family of legendary necromances, assassins and executioners for their small nation, who is entirely too kind and caring - and whose body seizes up sympathetically at the sight of pain - for her work. The story is written in a semi-serious fashion, with multiple moments of comedy and humor, both in how the world works and the names of the people within it as well as in the footnotes that occasionally show up in the story and make notations about people and events referenced in the story in ways that are full of dark humor.
And while the comedic angle of the story never really quite worked for me - it felt very much like the book couldn't decide whether it wanted to be a comedy or a more serious story at times - I still really really enjoyed Saint Death's Daughter, particularly thanks to its lead character Lanie and the characters all around her. Between the non-binary priest Lanie falls in love with, Lanie's growing niece who is excitable and violent, the zombie housekeeper Goody, the greedy debt-buyers who plague Lanie's family and country and even the evil enemy nation and her powerful wizards, there's just a lot to like here in this imaginative, fun, and often surprising world. In short I really enjoyed this book, and will be back for the sequels to see more of what happens to Lanie and her friends next.
The Stones family is legendary in the small country of Liriat, as its members have historical ties to the country's royal family since its inception, using their powerful magic to serve as Liriat's chief assassins and executioners. Every so often, a Stones is born with the gift of Necromancy, which they use to devastating ends for the sake of the country, and themselves.
Miscellaneous "Lanie" Stones is the latest of these necromancers, but she hardly has the temperament of her ancestors, to her ghost-grandfather's dismay. Her body bleeds and feels wounds whenever she sees them, which hardly makes her ideal for her family's jobline, and she's kind and caring, even if she is seemingly blessed by the Goddess of Death. But when her parents die and debt collecting nobles attempt to take everything she cares about from her family, she's forced to call her sister Nita back home to save things.
Except Nita is violent, impulsive, and dangerous, and her plans to save the family wealth upset the balance of power in the world, and force Lanie into desperation as she attempts to survive and to take care of those she cares for. And as Lanie grows up, she'll realize she need to use her necromancy, and connection to the gods, in ways she could never have imagined, or she will be the last Stones ever to grace the world.....
Saint Death's Daughter is told in an odd style - it's told entirely from Lanie's point of view, with multiple time jumps between parts - sometimes of days, sometimes of months, sometimes of years - but also with footnotes, as if this was a historical text, with the footnotes featuring humorous notes about the historical characters, texts, and things referenced in the narratives. And between that and some of the funny names of characters (the Stones family ahs names like Irradiant Stones, Amanita Stones, Miscellaneous Stones, etc.), you might think this is designed to make this a comedy, but while this very much has a light and fun tone for a story featuring a necromancer and a lot of death, the footnotes aren't that common, maybe 1-2 per chapter if that, that they often feel like something from an earlier draft of the book.
But what the final draft of this book turns out to be is a really fun and entertaining story that goes in some real interesting directions as Lanie grows up. Lanie starts as scared girl who is more intelligent than almost anyone realizes - especially not her brash obnoxious and talented (although not powerful) sister and her obnoxious greedy ghost grandpa - who recognizes when she's out of her depth, and when others like her sister are as well (especially as she gets out maneuvered by a rich foreign debt collector). And she never stops being scared, as things get worse and worse - her family murdered, she left with a brother in law who rightfully hates her for her sister's actions, a niece who's basically her own child, the priest she loves having to go way on a dangerous diplomatic mission, etc. But what changes is how strong she gets at fighting through that fear, as her determination drives her to keep moving forwards towards her goals, leading to more and more encounters with the gods - not just the god of death, but others of the twelve gods - and other powerful and dangerous wizards.
And then there are the side characters and this world who just make this story really really sing. You have the caretaker of the family, a zombie named Goody who is forced to follow the Stones' family's commands, but who Lanie cares for and never wants to give an order. You have Mak, the shapeshifting falcon-man enchanted ("Fascinated") by her sister into becoming her husband, who later tries to be a doting parent to the daughter he had as a result. You have the caring priest whose few moments Lanie shares she treasures more than anything. And you have a whole bunch of others - friendly and not-so-friendly - who make the story always feel colorful and creative.
Add in a plot that spans years and forces Lanie to make a number of dangerous choices, that will make you feel so tremendously for her - breaking your own heart as much as Lanie's at times - that well, it's just really well done. I don't want to say much more for fear of spoiling things, but well this book does something really well in balancing the coming of age heartwarming ness with magical adventure and humor (even if the footnotes don't work) and ends in a way that is very satisfying, even if you didn't want to continue with future books in this trilogy. Which I certainly will. So yeah, definitely recommended.
A delightful book full of adventure, action, and thrills. Fun to read, engrossing world building, and very descriptive imagery made it feel like it was cinematic. It's hard to resist the story as it drives forward. Would recommend.
This was just fantastic. The world building, the characters, the plot! This was so cool! I really really enjoyed reading this and I cannot wait to see what happens next. It reminded me of Harrow The Ninth in some ways, but the overall concepts and plot was unique and a fantastic story.
Saint Death’s Daughter is one of those books that piqued my interest from the moment I heard about it. The story revolves around (soon to come into her necromantic powers) Miscellaneous, or Lanie, Stones.
When we meet Lanie Stones, she is a 15 year old teenager whose parents are quite dead. She comes from the fantastically (in)famous Stones family, whose family have held the postitions of Royal Executioner & Royal Assassin throughout the history of the country of Liriat. In addition to that she comes from a family who are famous Necromancers, and she is born to her gift and is purported to become the most powerful necromancer of her age. However, she suffers from a slight setback in that she is allergic to death. Not only death, but any form of mal intent, which is a major disability in a family that worships and lives for death.
We are introduced to the world of the Stones family in the form of a letter, when Lanie writes to her sister Amanita (Nita) Muscaria Stones informing her of her precarious position and the fact that their parents have left them virtually destitute and owing debts and that their creditor Sari Scratch is demanding that their debts be paid, or marry one of her three sons Scratten, Cracchen or Hatchet Scratch.
The story quickly moves on to Lanie’s sister Nita swooping in from her assigned task of finding a mate to produce a progeny to continue the Stones’s line. She arrives at the Stones manor with her man (who happens to be able to turn into a hawk and is enslaved by a magical gauntlet on Nita’s arm) and they subsequently try to offset the debts that are owed to Sari Scratch. Nita believes that she can a) use her magic to alter the original contract by using her charm magic or b) fill her parents shoes by becoming the Royal executioner and assassin. However, there are some political games being played and the plan does not come to fruition. As a result, the queen employs her for a special task of assassinating the Blackbird Bride and the parliament of Rooks in retaliation for killing her parents (whose father also happened to be the Queens bit on the side).
I don’t know what I was expecting with Saint Death’s Daughter, but what I got was a darkly madcap and macabre tale of assassins, undead, ghosts with a bit of romance thrown in. The prose is completely off the wall with lots of made up terminology and there are various footnotes explaining the history of the Stones family and it’s eccentric members of the clan throughout its history.
In all honesty, I found Saint Death’s Daughter utterly delightful. The prose meanders all over the place, and at times reminded me Jane Austin, with its play on manners and society, with the macabre sense of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast, chucked in for good measure. In addition to that it has that kind of gothic edge to it, which was also reminiscent of The Addams Family. Especially when Datu is introduced to the story, who is Lanie’s niece, and at the age of six is obsessed with killing and goes to bed with a toy trebuchet. And then there is Goody Graves, the revenant who is tied to the family and literally brought up Lanie. and happens to be a bit like Lurch.
I have to say that I don’t really know how to explain this book. It is wonderfully original and I must say that I have absolutely fallen for its bizarre charm, because it is such a charming book. I know that some people may not get along with it, but me? I just straight out and out loved it.
Whilst I really enjoyed this book, it just didn't live up to my expectations. I found it really hard to get into and stay focused on the book. I did enjoy the plot and the characters but I was expecting more. I'm going to come back to this book once it's out and re-read to see if my opinion changes.
I enjoyed this book way more then I orginally thought! The world building and magic system are fantastic. I love every character in this book and I don't say that lightly. They are so well developed and I especially love the stone family. They are all so unique and the family tree is so interesting. I will say this book is very long but worth the read. There are some slow parts but I enjoyed the writing so much that I was able to move past the slower parts and keep going. The ending is amazing but if there ever happens to be a book 2 I am definitely adding it to my TBR!
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Thank you to netgally and Rebellion Publishing for the eArc in exchange for an honest review!
C. S. E. Cooney has crafted an incredibly rich and whimsical tale with 'Saint Death's Daughter'.
The world-building alone for this book is so rich, detailed, and imaginative that it's impossible not to get sucked into the world of Miscellaneous 'Lanie' Stones, a young necromancer stepping to her power. It's a brick of a book - something to really sink your teeth into - and the prose is so beautifully written that at times it seems almost lyrical.
Saint Death's Daughter is an absolutely grand and glorious fantasy epic which deserves to be savoured over the long (yet well spent!) hours it takes to devour.
Thank you to NetGalley and to Rebellion (Solaris) for providing me with a copy of this book.
### Overall Thoughts
*Saint Death’s Daughter* by C.S.E. Cooney is whimsical and character driven, with poetic prose and a casual narrative tone that does meander a bit. The first half-or-so of the book felt as though it primarily wanted to establish a quirkiness and eccentricity of the characters and world. The prose and footnotes both seem to relish leading the reader astray with gleeful use of an extensive vocabulary, frequent metaphor, and tidbits of tangential family history. I found this initially a charming characteristic, but eventually felt a bit exhausted by it, and really just wanted to get on with things. It’s not a short book, and the sometimes trying nature of the narrative style did not serve to shorten it for me. However, this is the sort of book that I can see working absolutely perfectly for a reader who is looking for that offbeat quality in their fantasy. It is the first book in a trilogy and at the end of the book there is clearly more of the story to be told, but it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger and does manage to be satisfying in its conclusion. It was overall a very enjoyable read, but one that I think will have varied reception depending on the reader’s preferences and expectations.
Miscellaneous “Lanie” Stones is born with an allergy to violence and death—the mark of a necromancer—and the Stones family is one filled with professional killers. This allergy sets her apart by necessity, as proximity to her murderous relatives triggers her allergy in painful and potentially life-threatening ways. She’s the odd one out of the family, with compassion and a respect for life that is not shared by her sister or family members that came before. We meet her as a 15-year-old as she stumbles her way through self-taught necromancy for the first third-ish of the book, and then timeskip to 7 years later for the rest of the narrative. She is an endearing main character, and her kindness and peculiarity worked to charm me into rooting for her early on.
The worldbuilding here is intricate and fascinating, with twelve (perhaps more) real and occasionally present gods, each presiding over a type of magic. Magic is predictable and somewhat scientific but vague in its workings, and magical ability is at least somewhat hereditary. Above all else, the world has that quality of eccentricity that pervades every element of this novel. I do look forward to getting broader worldbuilding in subsequent entries, as this one focuses primarily on only one nation, though politics local and abroad play a large part in the eventual plot of the book.
### Recommended Audience
Readers who enjoy whimsical fantasy, especially fantasy with dark or horror-y elements that doesn’t feel dark or pessimistic in tone.
Readers who love found family, narratives of dealing with family legacies, righting wrongs (some ancient, some recent), and characters coming into their power and finding a place, purpose, and agency for themselves.
Whimsically gothic and satisfyingly deep coming-of-age fantasy
Miscellaneous Stones - Lanie to most people who know her - is a necromancer, and one of the last surviving members of a family of grim royal assassins in the country of Liriat. Having been born with an allergy to violence, to parents whose professions revolve around assassination and execution, Lanie has grown up with almost no company beyond her family's revenant, Goody Graves, and the spirit of the family's last powerful necromancer, Irradiant Stones, who has trapped himself in the padlock of a sarcophagus that contains the trapped spirits of his enemies, and now divides his time between training Lanie, berating her, and plotting to steal her body.
Luckily for Lanie, things are about to take a turn for the interesting. Unfortunately, this is going to require the death of her parents; the return of her conniving, manipulative sister and the shapeshifting falcon-man she has captured from a foreign excursion and intends to force into marriage; the schemes of the rival Scratch family and their attempts to take over Stones Manor (and marry Lanie to one or more of their three sons); and, after a neat little timeskip, the fallout from her sister's years-long campaign of murder against a foreign country's mage population (who all happened to be married to its ruler, The Blackbird Bride - oh, and she's keen to add Lanie to that list of spouses too) and its broader political consequences. All of this pushes Lanie, Goody, her brother-in-law Mak and her niece Datura out into a wider world that has plenty of its own intrigues and dynamics going on, and Lanie gets to deepen relationships with the few people she knew in her old life - like Canon Lir, the sibling of Liriat's heir - and build new connections with the people of Liriat, particularly the diaspora from Mak's homeland, Quadiib. To talk about any more plot points would start to spoil what is a very episodic, twisty book, so let's just say that things happen, a lot, and it's up to Lanie to figure out how to do right by the people in her life and rise above the grim legacy of her family and everything it has taught her, and avoid being charmed into any marriages or possessed by the spirit of her own ancestor.
All this is to say: Saint Death's Daughter has a lot of story to tell, and it doesn't hold the reader's hand when it comes to building in worldbuilding elements that make that happen. The broad aesthetic here is "whimsical gothic": regular footnotes detail the lives and creative deaths of Stones ancestors, and early chapters have a real Ghormengast-y vibe, with isolated characters rattling around in a grim, closed-off mansion (although Nita's arrival makes it clear that this isn't going to be a novel about upholding tradition or ritual in any standard sense). That aesthetic persists through later sections, even as it becomes clear that Lanie's family are very much the outliers in this world, and somehow Cooney balances the fun aspects of that lens with a story that builds increasing nuance around its different factions and cultures. It's particularly noticeable when the story returns to characterisations that were set in early parts of the story, like when Lanie finally gets around to realising she doesn't know Mak's real name, only the nickname that her sister gave him, or her discovery that the Scratch family's three identical, dull sons are actually their own people, and their too-identical, oversimplified names have also been changed for Lirian consumption. All of this happens in Cooney's wonderful prose style, and with attention to elements like the workings of magic and how it interacts with the wider world. I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of "surges": days of magic at the solstices and equinoxes where people's magical abilities are at their strongest and most intoxicating, and which provide various turning points and catalysts for Lanie's decisionmaking each time they come around.
The sheer amount going on here and the way it's handled in almost episodic format also makes Saint Death's Daughter shine as a coming of age novel, and this is one of the best I've read since Rachel Hartman's Tess of the Road. Because each part of Saint Death's Daughter comes with its own story beats and climaxes, and each offers challenges that Lanie needs to grow past. As the story progresses, we see Lanie shift from being a mostly passive, trapped protagonist with the ability to make decisions only at the most intense moments, to someone with a much greater amount of agency and the ability to work with others to change things for the better. The length gives Lanie time to make mistakes and then fix them, push people away and then have them come through for her anyway, and it also gives her the opportunity to learn how and when to let the judgement of other people affect her, and what her legacy as a Stones really entails. After its first section ended in a timeskip and propelled its characters into an unexpected new situation, I accepted that I was never really going to know where Saint Death's Daughter was going next, and it made for a highly entertaining experience, with lots of satisfying twists and turns that all made sense for the characters and what they were going through.
I can see how this book won't work for everyone: the sheer amount of information and the sometimes slow plotting are a choice, and if you don't gel with the main character or the prose style, this is going to be a long read. For me, though, Saint Death's Daughter has gone straight to the favourites list, and I can't wait to see where the adventures of Lanie take her.
I loved the cover and found the blurb interesting, the plot is even better and I had a lot of fun in reading this funny and well written story as fast as I could.
Great world building, full of humor, well developed characters.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
This book is incredibly indescribable. It’s macabre, joyful, and heartrending by turns and utterly unafraid to immerse the reader in an astonishingly detailed (and very queer) fantasy world, full of necromantically animated mice, revenant nannies, and toe bones as love tokens.
Miscellaneous (Lanie) is the youngest of a long line of creatively named Stones in Liriat, a family with a colorful history and strong ties to the royals. Lanie is a necromancer, born with an allergy to violence. Given her parents’ jobs as royal executioner and assassin, she has to be raised in her own wing of the mansion, cared for by the family revenant, Goody Graves, an left to figure out her magic with the help of a lot of old books and a particularly crotchety ghost. Faced with a mountain of debt after her parents’ deaths, and the homecoming of her psychotic sister, Lanie’s set on avenging her family. But events prove there’s more going on than just a few simple murders, and if Lanie wants to keep those she loves safe, she’ll have to relearn everything she knows about being a Stones.
I will admit that for the first few chapters I was, well, not very entranced. The author’s writing style tends to the verbose and flowery (in a very dour sort of way) and is just A LOT combined with being thrown into what feels like the entire history of Liriat and the Stones in the first few chapters. But once Lanie raised the mice? Oh, then I understood where the book was going.
“As Lanie cradled those scampering handfuls to her breast, the mice curled their bony bodies against her, sweethearting love and devotion from out their very ribcages and tailbones, from every slender socket and delicate articulation, from each curve and knob and needle-like protuberance.”
There’s a lot of dark, dry extremely macabre humor (especially the footnotes on the untimely ends of various Stones), but where the book really excels is its exploration of love. I mean, there’s a lot going on about vengeance and justice and familial trauma. Family is a complicated thing for Lanie. The mostly silent Goody Graves is more her family than any of her blood relations, especially her sister, and things just get messier with the introduction of Mak and Datu. Of course, there’s Lanie’s adorably sweet romance (so much pining!) with Canon Lir, but what she truly loves? Her necromantic creations, like the mice, the first creatures Lanie actually raises. It’s joyful, it’s messy, and from that moment on I wanted everything for Lanie. So much of her journey is tied into the ideas of love and family, but I won’t say too much else as it’ll get into spoilers.
The worldbuilding is fabulous. This is the type of book that has footnotes detailing the deaths of various Stones, in particular one ancestor who was strangled by necromantically animated pants. There’s multiple distinct cultures, including one where they tend to talk in rhyming verse, various forms of magic, and all sorts of overwhelming details that are generally not necessary but add a lot of vitality (and humor) to the world. It’s also extremely queer. The main character’s love interest is nonbinary, and gender is much more fluid – cross-dressing is an act of worship, in fact – and several side characters have various pairings, including polycules. My main criticism would have to be the uneven pacing, as there were several sections that felt like they should’ve been tightened up. It’s a bit hypocritical for me to say that, though, as as soon as I finished the book I immediately wished there were at least another ten chapters.
Overall, I doubt this will be everyone’s cup of tea, but recommended for readers who enjoy their humor on the macabre side, immersive fantasy worlds, and explorations of love and family (blood or found). I am extremely hopeful that this is the first in a series and will definitely be keeping an eye on this author!
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Thanks to Rebellion Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC.
Well, this story is just a bit mad isn't it?? I will admit it's hard to fathom where to begin and definitely sure my words won't measure up, but here we go. This story is a fantastical combination of dark magic, whimsy, coming of age, found family, eccentric, odd characters and many, many skeletons. Our protagonist is Miscellaneous "Lanie" Stones, whose family serves as royal assassins, but Lanie is allergic to killing and violence, but is excellent at bringing the dead back to life. Honestly, this book to a while to get into, but I was glad I stuck with it. There is a lot to take in, it's complex and trying to keep track of all the family members with their wondrous names takes effort. Once Lanie, Mak and Datu leave Stones Manor is really where it took off for me and kept me reading. It truly is a unique story with so much imagination and creativity. I will certainly be looking forward to the next book!!
Read this back in October and absolutely loved it. There is delicious whimsical prose, footnotes reminiscent of Terry Pratchett and Bartimaues, found family, really interesting necromancy,(and other forms of magic), some pretty gruesome scenes for what seemed like a cozy book, characters that are so vivid they're embossed in my mind, curses, revenge, forgiveness, non binary character, side lesbians, a betrayal that made me gasp out loud, a loveable child & dog (cw: the dog does not die but is tortured) THE best names ever….. You see why this book had to be 600+ pages.
This follows our protagonist Miscellaneous “Lanie” Stones, youngest of the only two surviving daughters in the infamous Stones family of assassins.Lanie is the once in a generation Stones necromancer, except she's deeply allergic to violence (a major problem with the family business being what it is). The story starts with her parents dying & her elder sister returning home to take up family debt & business, but the book covers several years and involves country politics as well on top of everything else I mentioned before. Only just learned this is part of a trilogy and can't wait for more.One of the foot rates had me wanting a spin off of a book just briefly mentioned and alas nonexistent. Read this for a good time.
What a wonderfully complex and entertaining read. I thought this was going to a be a quick YA story of a young necromancer navigating her powers but it completely blew my expectations away.
Firstly I wouldn’t classify this as YA - it’s leaning more to high fantasy with a MC that starts at 15 but ages. It is the same category I would place books like the Maleficent Seven and The Bone Maker. The writing in this however is wholly unique. The world building is fantastic. We get the history of this family and their famous terrible deeds (in very black comic detail). We get at least 3 different regions with unique languages, cultures and magic. We have 12 gods with differing gifts and abilities, and though Lanie our MC is dedicated to just 1 - Saint Death - the others all make an appearance. We also have loads of characters that are well defined, and aren’t written as 2 dimensional fodder. There is also sexual and gender fluidity, in a very casual understated way, that is just delicious. Not to mention plot and tension plus surprise twists in spades. That ending? It could be standalone but I hope there is a book 2 coming.
It is a lot (as you can imagine it is very chunky) so it’s not a quick or easy read, but it very enjoyable like a full bodied wine or a 50 year old aged whisky. You read slowly and enjoy. I had to take my time to think of how to write this review. This is a very highly recommended 4.5 stars that I will push to everyone that has the patience to read it.
Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for letting me read an e-ARC of Saint Death Daughter by C.S.E. Cooney. There is no way that I could write a blurb for a book whose events and plot twist and turn like Lanie’s hair on the front cover, so I’m just going to use the publisher’s:
“Nothing complicates life like Death.
Lanie Stones, the daughter of the Royal Assassin and Chief Executioner of Liriat, has never led a normal life. Born with a gift for necromancy and a literal allergy to violence, she was raised in isolation in the family’s crumbling mansion by her oldest friend, the ancient revenant Goody Graves.
When her parents are murdered, it falls on Lanie and her cheerfully psychotic sister Nita to settle their extensive debts or lose their ancestral home—and Goody with it. Appeals to Liriat's ruler to protect them fall on indifferent ears… until she, too, is murdered, throwing the nation's future into doubt.
Hunted by Liriat’s enemies, hounded by her family’s creditors and terrorized by the ghost of her great-grandfather, Lanie will need more than luck to get through the next few months—but when the goddess of Death is on your side, anything is possible.”
C.S.E. Cooney has crafted a vibrant and vivid fantasy world with multiple intricate cultures based around 12 gods and their powers and if you can manage to get into it, the experience is lovely. That being said, there is so much exposition in this book that it took me about 10 chapters to figure out what was happening and you must be prepared for a very character-based book. The plot is an elusive creature ducking in and out of view at times and while I am personally okay with following Lanie through her daily life, I understand that not everyone would be. Cooney’s extensive vocabulary and use of footnotes to provide more family history for the Stones creates an atmosphere equally as eccentric as her main character.
Lanie makes a wonderful character to follow as she attempts to balance her own natural compassion against the expectations of her sister, their ghostly grandfather, and the rest of Liriat, that she be a coldhearted necromancer chomping at the bit to pull skeletons out of living bodies. The vibe of this book is borderline dark academia with the extensive amounts of studying and experiments that Lanie runs and scholarly friends that she makes throughout the book.
The romance that Lanie has with her love interest is one of my favorite things in this novel. The way that she can be as weird or withdrawn as she wants or needs at the moment and her love interest is still hanging on her every word. Their devotion to this macabre girl that could hole herself up in a lab and not talk to them for weeks to months on end is heartwarming. So many of my highlights in this book were just conversations between the two of them that I loved. Reading the letters that the two write to each other was lovely because you could just see how they want to tell the other everything minute detail that has happened in their life and the other wants to read it just as bad.
I loved learning about the different cultures and their views of the gods, specifically the original Quadiíb religion, which is the only one to still hold all twelve gods in equal reverence and balance, and whose language must be spoken in meter and rhyme. The variety of characters that we meet from there provide their own unique perspectives on the practice of magic. The question of heresy or honesty, compassion or judgment, is broached many times but left open for the audience to decide on their own. One of my favorite moments in the book was the acknowledgment of how trauma shapes not only one’s view of both their own culture and religion but of others as well.
The world Cooney has crafted is so effortlessly queer. Lanie’s love interest uses they/them pronouns as do their ommer (a gender-neutral form of aunt or uncle with the respective term for their descendant being niephling). On four Holy Days made up of the solstices and equinoxes, many people crossdress and use different pronouns. Anyone can be with anyone else regardless of gender. And the important thing about this is that none of it is questioned or unusual, it just is.
Overall I’d give Saint Death’s Daughter 3.75 stars. I truly enjoyed this book and am considering getting my own physical copy but the amount of time it took to get into it and the plot that comes and goes as it pleases was enough to bring it down from 4 stars.
Saint Death’s Daughter by C. S. E. Cooney is a brilliant debut. It’s well-written with a wonderfully unique world, a great main character, and a plot that doesn’t follow the worn patterns. It’s advertised as YA, but even though the MC is fifteen in the beginning, she’s an adult responsible for a child for most of the book. There are some dark themes too of childhood abuse and abduction that a delicate reader might find upsetting.
Miscellaneous Stones comes from a long line of sorcerers who have served the ruler for centuries with their murderous talents with magic. She’s the first necromancer to born in a century, and it comes with a rather unfortunate allergy towards violence and death. Even violent thoughts in her vicinity make her body break out in real wounds in response. To keep her alive until she reaches maturity and her full powers, the family has isolated her in their country manor. That hasn’t stopped her big sister Amanita from torturing her for all her life, until she mercifully left for a boarding school.
Then the parents are assassinated, leaving Lanie to deal with a staggering debt. Out of options, she summons Nita back. Nita promptly becomes an assassin to pay the debt. But she doesn’t come home alone. She’s abducted a man who can turn into a falcon to make him her husband, controlling him with his own magic. Mak hates Nita and Lanie, but to avoid having his memory wiped, he succumbs.
The book then skips seven years. Lanie is twenty-two and has come to her powers, though she still has a lot to learn—mostly from a murderous ghost of the previous family necromancer. Mak and Nita have a six-year-old daughter, Datu, who, having grown in a highly dysfunctional environment, isn’t exactly a nice kid. Mak still hates everyone but his daughter. And then Nita is assassinated, forcing Mak and Lanie to flee to protect Datu. To keep her family safe, Lanie has to face the powerful enemy who wants them dead.
The book takes a rather winding path to where it needs to go. Mostly we follow Lanie as she learns to be a necromancer. The book is solely from her point of view, and she is an excellent MC, strong, resilient, and warm-hearted despite her upbringing and the form of magic she wields. She maybe grows a bit too powerful towards the end, but she has friends to keep her in rein.
The supporting cast is interesting and not stereotypical. Mak was my favourite, but he wasn’t given enough airtime. Datu as a tantrum prone, murderous kid was wonderful. The enemies weren’t pure evil and could occasionally be allies too, and the friends Lanie made along the way were a good addition.
But I found the romantic subplot uninspiring. It’s seldom that romances work when they’ve begun before the book does, and this wasn’t an exception. I never felt any connection between Lanie and Lir (the great twist at the end failed to affect me in any way because of it). Mak and Haaken would both have been perfect for a wonderful enemies-to-lovers plot, but neither choice was in any ways utilised. However, the way the book ended gives me hope that the childhood infatuation will be forgotten and there will be a proper romance in Lanie’s future.
The world is interesting and fully developed, with a rich history that is constantly referred to, at least in funny footnotes, large pantheon of gods, and unique ways to practice magic. Nothing is overly explained, but the narrative flows easily and makes everything effortlessly understood.
The book has a good ending. It’s conclusive enough to satisfy, but with a few open threads that’ll hopefully lead to a sequel. I’m definitely looking forward to it.
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