Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Review: The Death Catchers

This is the review of an uncorrected advance copy. Changes may have been made in the final book. 

Title: The Death Catchers
Author: Jennifer Anne Kogler
Release Date: August 16, 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Cover Designer: 
Age Audience: YA
Genre: Paranormal 
Summary: On her fourteenth Halloween, Lizzy Mortimer sees her first death-specter. 
Confused at first, Lizzy soon learns from her grandmother Bizzy that as Death Catchers, they must prevent fate from taking its course when an unjust death is planned-a mission that has been passed down from their ancestor, Morgan le Fay. Only, Lizzy doesn't expect one of her first cases to land her in the middle of a feud older than time between Morgan le Fay and her sister Vivienne le Mort. Vivienne hopes to hasten the end of the world by preventing Lizzy from saving King Arthur's last descendant-humanity's greatest hope for survival. It's up to Lizzy, as Morgan's earthly advocate, to outwit fate before it's too late.

My Review:
The first good thing I have to say about this book concerns the setting. Small towns are nearly a cliche in paranormal YA, but I think Crabapple stood out. Sitting on the edge of the gloomy Pacific, it was an eeire and quaint little town, almost a little European in some ways.

Even though Lizzy, the protagonist, admits that she's "not reading's biggest fan", there's a literary building block discussed at the beginning of each chapter, since the book is a letter Lizzy wrote to her English teacher explaining why she didn't turn in her paper. As a writer myself, I enjoyed this aspect of the book.

But, there were weaknesses too. The one that bothered me the most was in the mythology. It strayed so far from the Arthurian lore everyone knows. You could argue that there's no such thing as THE version of King Arthur's story because there has never been one accurate source, but I still felt like the author just used a few concepts to make up her own mythology that was only loosely based on Arthurian lore.

Another weak point was the lack of physical description. When it came to describing the town and other characters, it was good for the most part. But not in Lizzy's case. What color was her hair? Her eyes? Was she tall or short? Did she wear glasses? We never find out what she even looked like. I also thought it was unusual how close Lizzy was to her seventy-something grandmother. Of course it's normal for someone to talk to and spend time with their grandmother, but being with her more often than you did with your best friend? I didn't buy it. I have another criticism, but it's spoilery so I'll leave it out.

The romance was an upside—it was very realistic. Of course there was tension and kissing and things like that, but it was all more of a side element. Even after Lizzy starts "officially dating", she tells her best friend that "We're not in love." They were just two people trying to see if a romantic relationship would work for them.

To me, The Death Catchers had an equal amount of good and bad, but others who wouldn't be bothered by the things I mentioned might like it better. In any case, it gets bonus points for being a stand-alone and for not having the face of an angsty-looking teenage girl on the cover.


  1. This sounds really interesting and I love the lack of over the top romance. such a shame tho that the arthurian legends were a bit butchered.

    The Cait Files

  2. The pure fact that it's a stand alone story has already got me interested, too many books are spread too thin over numerous installments and I get so annoyed when the quality falls with each new book. But I do love the Arthurian tales so maybe this'll be an eventual library book for me.
    Thanks for the review!


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