School of Deaths by Christopher Mannino (Audiobook Review + Author Interview)

School of Deaths: The Scythe Wielder's Secret - Christopher Mannino, Christopher Mannino, Joel Froomkin
A YA Contemporary Fantasy with an interesting twist on the "Magic School" tale and a likeable protagonist.

Thirteen-year-old Suzie Sarnio always believed the Grim Reaper was a fairy tale image of a skeleton with a scythe. Now, forced to enter the College of Deaths, she finds herself training to bring souls from the Living World to the Hereafter. The task is demanding enough, but as the only female in the all-male College, she quickly becomes a target. Attacked by both classmates and strangers, Suzie is alone in a world where even her teachers want her to fail.

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SERIES INFO: This is Book #1 of 2 (so far) in the “Scythe Wielder’s Secrets” trilogy. According to the author, “the audiobook for Sword of Deaths (book 2) should be available by the end of April, or at least the beginning of May.” Book #3, Daughter of Deaths is expected to be published some time in 2017.


Suzie: She was really fun to spend time with. She was quite level headed and has all the necessary heroine traits without being a Mary Sue.


The minor characters (such as Cronk & Athanasius) were really interesting; strangely more interesting than Suzie’s gang, who only started to really become individuals in my mind towards the end.



Right from the beginning, we were able to quickly grasp what was happening to Suzie and the impact it had had on her and her family. The explanations when she was taken to the world between were skillfully handled.


I have to give bonus points to a story that includes a library as a significant setting.  And it's nice that she chooses (and does well in) Art class.


None of the twists were real surprises, except one.  The book ends with significant changes, but leaves much still to be resolved.  I am looking forward to meeting the Dragons.

I am not sure why a male narrator was chosen for a book who’s main character is a middle grade girl. That said, he did a really good job. I felt that his reading matched the tone of the story. / I appreciate the way he handled things such as a “whiny voice” or stammer without making them irritable. / I listened on my usual 1.25 speed.


Joe - I wish there was more of him in the book (and I think cinnamon gum stinks too Suzie) / Suzie interrupting boskery try-outs / The two reaping scenes (especially Suzie’s compassion) / Suzie’s visit to the Doctor (for *gasp* female issues)


I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT: Occasional use of the Lord’s name in vain and other mild swearing


--Narration: ABOVE AVERAGE
--Enjoyment: ABOVE AVERAGE
--Re-readability: ABOVE AVERAGE

I received this book free in return for an honest review.

School of Deaths by Christopher Mannino; read by Joel Froomkin; produced independently in 2016 / Length: 8 hrs 1 min (Unabr) -- Buy Now




If you were to spend a day with your lead character, what would the two of you do?

This isn't mentioned in book one, but in book two, we're introduced to an event called a Reapery. It's sort of like an advanced test of reaping skills. I'd love to go against Susan in a Reapery, I think it'd be really fun.


Audiobook / eBook / Paperbooks? Which is your favorite and why?

To read, I definitely still prefer paper books. That said, I mostly read ebooks now, and do like the convenience of having many books on a single device. I really like audiobooks as well. I'd only listened to two audiobooks before School of Deaths, but I enjoy the experience. I only have a 10-minute commute, so I'm not necessarily listening while I drive to work, but I enjoyed having someone else's voice tell my story. I guess in the end, I like them all.


What is the hardest thing about writing? The easiest?

Honestly, I think writing is the easiest part. Everything that comes later, from finding a publisher, to editing, and of course marketing, is very tricky. Publishing is an overcrowded market, so it can be tough to stand out.


Learn more about me at:

GMB: I recommend checking out the link if only for the great picture; but you can also find additional interviews there as well.