Thoughts on Amber Benson: “The Golden Age of Death”

And we’re back! This time with something new and it’s… a book review! Yes, I actually sometimes find the time to read for pleasure. I wish that would happen more often. The first book to be reviewed comes from our beloved writing actress Amber Benson and is the last in her “Death’s Daughter” book series. As usual, beware of SPOILERS.

After four thrilling volumes with hundreds and thousands of unique ideas and quirky characters, our journey with Calliope Reaper-Jones (aka Death) comes to an end in the fifth volume “The Golden Age of Death”.

When I first read Benson’s announcement that she would write this story not from Callie’s first-person perspective, I was a little bit worried. I know some people don’t like first-person narratives, but personally I often find them more engaging than the usual “he did” and “she thought”. Fortunately, Benson is very well capable of juggling both (!) perspectives in one book, giving is new insights into the characters we had so far only experienced through Callie’s eyes. I found it very refreshing to see the book’s world through the eyes of Jarvis or Clio, and to see their motivations for what they do. That was of course especially enlightening in the case of the “bad guys” – I particularly enjoyed the musings of Starr, the siren.

The biggest surprise for me certainly was the cameo of Noh, also known as the main character of Benson’s “Among the Ghosts”. Although that book is targeted towards a much younger audience, I often found it very chilling, and I was delighted to see an older and even more mature version of Noh in “The Golden Age of Death”. The only thing I didn’t like about it was the sad ending – I might have secretly ‘shipped her and Jennice…

As with the other books in the series, I struggled with the first two or so chapters, particularly because of the side stories with random recently deceased people. As the book progresses, however, these stories actually give us a lot of insight into what is happening in the Afterlife which I found was a great idea. I particularly enjoyed the resolute grandmother Bernadette, although the number of her scenes are limited.

As for the ending, some readers might lament the death of Daniel. I don’t. For one, I’ve never been a big fan of his to begin with. I am also glad that Benson resisted the urge (if she had it) to write a stereotypical Harry-Potter-style “wedding-and-then-children-on-the-lawn” ending. Given the bloodshed of the volume and the overall dark tone of the series (despite the many jokes), I thought it was more apt to end on a sad note. Still, it makes me wonder what will now happen to Callie. Will she become the miserable mourning Death leaving work to her potential successors? Since the “golden age of death” is supposed to start with her that wouldn’t make much sense… Unfortunately, Benson does not further explain what characterizes the “golden age”, so I guess we’re left to wonder.

Conclusion: Like the books that came before it, this one was a great read. I’m really looking forward to Benson’s next book, no matter what the subject (although I hope she will stay with fantasy). Okay, she’s probably going to direct a movie or act in another before that – and I’m equally looking forward to that (did I mention I’m an old Buffy fangirl? *cough*).

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