Even after centuries of practice, it never grew less unsettling when it happened this way – sloppily. Gorily. Murder had never been his favorite method of disposal.
This is the story mortals tell about a man who was the godson of Death, who they say eventually learned my secrets and came to control me, and who still walks the earth today, eternally youthful, as he keeps Death close at his side, a golden lasso tied around my neck with which to prevent me, cunningly and valiantly, from taking ownership of his soul.
Before I get into the review proper, I can explain! My previously unexplained absence, that is. I just… needed a little break. A vacation, as it were. (Especially cuz I hadn’t really had one in the almost-year that I’ve been blogging.) But I’m back now, and with another book review at that!
Masters of Death was something that I was pretty excited for – it was even on my list of anticipated books coming out during the third part of 2023. So yeah, I was pretty excited for it.
But it kind of fell flat for me. Just a bit. I know the reason – it was a couple of different things, actually. As much as I enjoyed many things about this book, there were almost as many things that I didn’t much care for.
I really, really liked a lot of the characters. Fox D’Mora was a fun protagonist to follow, and his relationship with his adoptive father made him easy to root for. I liked his dialogue with the other characters, and how, throughout the novel, the mask that he displays to the world is slowly pulled off.
Death was probably my favorite character, however. Even though he didn’t get as much pagetime as I thought he should, whenever he was in a scene, he absolutely stole the show. His relationship and dialogue with Fox was extremely endearing (and entertaining), and I wish that there was more of it.
“Let me guess. This is her husband?”
“Fiancé,” Fox corrected in a blandly guiltless tone. “He passed just before they could be wed.”
“How fucking convenient,” Death remarked with a sensation he often experienced but had not felt prior to Fox’s guardianship. It was a mix of things. Not anger, exactly. More like disappointment.
“Papa,” Fox warned, arching a brow in expectation. “What did we say about the cursing?”
Death lifted a hand, dutifully snapping the rubber band he wore on his wrist for the reward (if such a thing could be said) of Fox’s indulgent smirk. “I still don’t see why this is necessary,”
Our leading lady was Viola Marek. I actually rather enjoyed her character, even though she was technically not like other vampires. Her arc was one I found incredibly relatable to follow, despite the fact that she was an ordinary woman with extraordinary circumstances. Or perhaps that was the reason.
I also really, really, really liked almost all of the other characters. There are too many to discuss here, though, so I’ll just talk about the two that will pertain to my review later on. I really enjoyed Tom, and his and Viola’s begrudging friendship with each other was fun. Brandt kind of sucked as a character, though. I didn’t really like him that much.
There is a game that the immortals play.
It is played around tables that open at dusk, and close at dawn.
The stakes are impossibly high, and yet laughably low.
There is only one secret: The more you have to lose, the harder it is to win.
There is only one rule: Don’t lose.
The plot was pretty interesting, but it was also one of the slowest that I’ve ever read. The summary is also written a certain way that implies the story to be a little different than it actually is. I get that they were trying to attract readers without giving too much of the plot away, but I feel slightly lied too.
I enjoyed the plot that we did get to see, to a degree. The buildup during the first half was great, and really pumped me up for the second part of the book. Only, the second half of the book fell somewhat flat. I didn’t find the immortals’ game to be all that interesting, until the very, very end of the novel, and it took up so much pagetime.
For me, the romance in Masters of Death was its weakest aspect. I just wasn’t really interested in any of the couples. Not to mention that there was at least one romantic relationship too many.
Scratch one thing, actually. There was one couple that I was pretty invested in – Viola and Tom. They were just super cute together, and they had the most natural romantic chemistry out of everyone. But I didn’t like any of the other couples.
I found Brandt, Fox’s love interest, to be annoying as a character, so I found them hard to root for as a couple. (I hated Brandt, actually.) And as for Cal and Mayra – they were just one couple too many, at that point. Yeah, they were really sweet together, but this book just wasn’t long enough to develop all of these relationships to the way they should’ve been.
I found Blake to have a rather dry wit (that I enjoyed), and her prose was very strong. She tells a story very well. And the humor is on point (did I mention that?).
A few parts of the book were too much for me. I thought the book was overly written at certain times, which is something that I never appreciate. It forced the story to move a bit slowly for my liking, which is one of the biggest reasons for my rating.
“Everything’s a game if you play it right,” the second figure said.
“But strictly speaking, this is no longer a game,” said the first figure. “Now it’s a war.”
And then everything went dark.
Masters of Death is a rather intricately woven urban fantasy by Olivie Blake. I personally found it to be a kind of mid, slow moving book, but it’s something that I think a lot of other people would like.
As always, thank you to everyone for reading. I hope that you all have a fabulous day/night!
See ya ~Mar