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  • Writer's pictureHannah Zunic

Death Becomes Her: A Review of Masters of Death by Olivie Blake

Updated: Jun 26

Hello, Book Nerds! Welcome back to Reading Has Ruined My Life or welcome if you are new. As always, my name is Hannah and I am your captain on this journey into my bookcases.

 

Hello all you guys, gals, and non-binary pals, I have a new review for ya today. It’s a semi-spooky read too. We are slowly approaching Spooky Season and I’m in a spooky mood. I need all the spooky reads and I need them right now.


Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? Opening still.
Why must Spooky Season be so far away!?

With that, please welcome to the stage Masters of Death by Olivie Blake!


Book cover of Masters of Death by Olivie Blake.

As always, a spoiler alert is in order. This is your one and only warning. If you’ve read any of the other posts on this blog then you know I love the spoil the entirety of the books I read. It’s synopsis time now.

 

Masters of Death follows a large cast of characters; mainly Fox D’Mora and Viola Marek. Fox is a sham medium who has lived an unusually long life despite being a mere mortal. Fox’s extraordinary long life can be chalked up to being super close to Death. Longevity and youth are quite the perks, and all for being Death’s godson. How do I sign up to be Death’s godchild? Viola is also a mortal. Or she was one until recently. While on an archeology expedition to the Philippines, she had the misfortune of being turned into a vampire. An aswang to be exact.

 

At the beginning of our story, Viola and Fox are strangers, their lives never cross paths. Fox was living his best sinful life while Viola was getting used to being an aswang and discovering the secrets of creatures most never thought real all while getting her realtor’s license. Like I said, Viola and Fox have never met. Then Viola is tasked with selling one of the biggest homes in Chicago, a house complete with the ghost of the young owner who was murdered there. A demon friend of Viola’s tells her to reach out to the best medium in the city to fix the ghost problem; that medium being none other than Fox.


Boo Ghost.
Our sham medium is the only person in our story who can't see ghosts. It's quite amusing.

Fox is quickly exposed as a fraud, but that doesn’t matter as there’s something bigger than exorcising a ghost that needs tending to. Death himself has gone missing! Fox’s godfather is MIA. And while people are dying, their spirits are basically stuck in limbo. Our two main characters must assemble a squad. A squad to save Death from the clutches of an insane god who is keeping Death locked away.

 

To do so, our large cast of characters–made up of an angel, a reaper, a demon, a ghost, a demigod thief, Fox, and Viola–must travel to some pocket of unreality and play a Game™. This Game™ is the most dangerous thing to ever exist and the stakes are somehow steeper than life and death. The goal is simple: stay alive and save Death. Anything other than that is failure.

 

Can they do it? Can they all manage to survive? Can Death be saved? Or will a vengeful god change the world and/or possibly destroy it? Find out in Masters of Death.

 

We have to kick this review proper off with the Game™. The Game™ makes absolutely no sense. Its only rule is “don’t lose.” Ok, cool, but what is it? Is it cards? A triathlon? Extreme Scrabble? How does one play? I have many questions and the only thing the author does is dangle a proverbial carrot in front of the me. If I’m being honest, I don’t think the author knows what the Game™ is either. This book is just under 400 pages and it takes the author till page 284 to offer some explanation regarding the Game™. And it still doesn’t give readers much explanation. I think the goal is to gaslight, gatekeep, girlboss your opponent until they break, but I truly have no idea.


Paris Hilton making a disgusted face.
It's a no from me.

Because of this issue, I ended up not liking this book. Which is a shame considering I started it with such interest. I love the premise, I was drawn in by the synopsis when I picked it up, I’m a fan of the prose and characters, but the plot is severely lacking. I’m going to post a picture directly under this paragraph. This picture is going to be basically how things went on for 300 pages.

 

The poison for Kuzco.
This perfectly explains the book for 300 pages.

Like I said, a shame since I really like the prose and characters. Most every character has a PHD in sass and an attitude problem, yet the author manages to make all the characters seem different. All the characters’ personalities are enjoyable. Fox is a reforming rake, Cal–the previously mentioned reaper–is a certified dreamer and is just a bit of a himbo, and Mayra–a literal angel–is stone faced, caring, and 110% done with Fox’s bullshit and everyone else’s for that matter. I won’t go through every character’s personality, but I think you get a taste of the characters involved in Masters of Death. And yes, everyone here is going to wax poetic about life while attempting to hide the fact they all care about people and want to help one another. Truly, the characters are a ten-out-of-ten for me. I like them, care enough about them, I enjoy the witty banter between Viola and her ghost; just to name a few things.

 

Olivie Blake writes with intent. The prose and dialogue are carefully picked and crafted with love and a thesauruses on hand. The plot is simply not there. The idea is so strong. Seriously, this concept chef’s kiss. The execution just falls flat.

 

Thankfully, the execution is not lacking when it comes to Fox and Death’s relationship. There is the right mix of backstory, banter, and care between the characters. They don’t feel thrown together. There’s a push and pull between the pair. Their relationship feels real. It’s far from perfect, but that’s the point. Death and Fox have history, most of which readers don’t see, but it’s most certainly felt. Their familial relationship is definitely a high point of the novel and it’s also my favorite. Their relationship is really what kept me reading.


Woman clapping.
Claps for the characters.

Masters of Death is disappointing. A good concept, nay, a great concept, but with no plot I found it chore to get through. For quite a few days I would lay in bed, book in hand, and tell myself I was going to finish it. Alas, I said that for at least four days in a row. Despite being a book about demons, ghosts, vampires, and Death himself, this book is not for me. At the end of the day, I’m not a fan.

 

With that, I must bid you all adieu. I shall see you next week with another new review. I have one more review to celebrate Pride Month. If you can’t wait that long you can always check out my podcast Nothing to See Hear. Allow me to tell you a spooky story, dive into our Scooby-Doo series, or perhaps our Disney series. There is bound to be something you’ll find amusing. You can listen to the show over on Spotify and YouTube.

 

Until next time, stay safe, wash your hands, and read some good books for me.


Bears waving.
See y'all then, bye!

  

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