Saint Death's Daughter (2022, Rebellion) 4 stars

Fun, froofy and glorious: a coming-of-age story in a new trilogy from World Fantasy Award-winning …

Saint Death's Daughter

4 stars

This is a fantasy tome that follows Laney Stones, a necromancer who is allergic to violence. So allergic that she gets echo injuries of anything she sees, and breaks out in hives if people discuss violence that has (or is intended) to happen. The book starts off with both of her parents dead and Laney writing to her overbearing sister to come back and help with debt on the house.

I love that the book is long enough for Laney to grow up through many different roles; I think my favorite bits were her becoming (more or less) a parent to her niece, and also learning to be a waitress (and have friends) after a childhood of solitude.

The tone of this book really carries it. The entire Stones family has fabulous names. The protagonist is Laney Stones (short for Miscellaneous Immiscible Stones), daughter of Unnatural "Natty" Stones and Abandon Hope Stones. It's got whimsical footnotes, often for unnecessary humorous detail about historical people and places. Here's one footnote example from p. 210 to give you a taste, although I could have picked any of a dozen:

Extramundane Stones, much to Irradiant's dismay, had taken his name all too literally. The only Stones to voluntarily leave Liriat upon attaining his majority, Mundy had shortened his forename and changed his surname to suggest ironically the one by which his august father most often addressed him. He had then moved to Leech and married a goose girl. Mundy thereafter lived out a prosperous four score and three years growing prize vegetables. His wife, Mistress Mudclopper, having been briefed on Mundy's family history, elected not to have children. Both Mudcloppers died content. The Stoneses never spoke of them.

I hesitate to pin this book's narrative style down on a map, but I would say that this book lies in a neighboring country to both Terry Pratchett and T. Kingfisher's fantasy books. Even if there are many funny parts and wry narrative asides to this book, the world itself takes itself seriously (and does not seem to be a disc on elephants). Even though there's a few different fantasy countries here with politics and history and views on magic, I feel like it's still largely a character-driven novel with a small cast.

There's some good potential setup here for the next book, and I'm excited to see where that goes.