Title: The Book of Kindly Deaths
Author: Eldritch Black
Publishing Information: September 16th, 2014 by Spencer Hill Press
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal
Series Information: The first in a planned series* (*I believe)
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Source: Obtained an ARC from the publisher for review
Recommended For: Fans of the darker side of middle grade, fans of Neil Gaiman, and Claire Legrand.
When twelve-year-old Eliza Winter finds a secret room in her missing grandfather’s sprawling, Gothic house, her safe, sheltered life is blown apart. Inside, below a stained glass window where moonlight shines no matter the time of day, sits The Book of Kindly Deaths.
When the strange, crooked man from the book arrives on the doorstep claiming to be a rare-book collector and demanding entry into the house, Eliza’s world is turned upside down. To escape him, she must dive all the way into the spine-tingling world of The Book of Kindly Deaths to save her grandfather–and write an end to the nightmare she’s caught inside.
When my friend and fellow blogger Estelle reached out to ask me if I wanted to read and review The Book of Kindly Deaths by Eldritch Black I was a bit hesitant due to time and responsibilities and ya know, life. But when she told me that it was being geared toward fans of Neil Gaiman, my interest was immediately piqued. Then I read the synopsis and realized that the gal was right, the book was right up my alley. Many thanks to Estelle, Eldritch Black, and Spencer Hill Press for giving me a chance to read and review what turned out to be a rather perfect book for my tastes.
As you can see, this is a story about Eliza Winter and her adventures in a world unlike our own in order to save her grandfather, and others who have been affected by the monsters who frequent the streets of this parallel land. While reading, I was at first somewhat wary because The Book of Kindly Deaths read a bit like a compilation of short stories. In fact, it was very reminiscent of On The Day I Died: Stories From the Grave by Candace Fleming, which was entertaining, but not what I was looking for. Thankfully once I delved further into the story things started to come together and I really enjoyed the different tie ins from the stories within the Book of Kindly Deaths. There was one particularly interesting story filled with characters called “the wrong people.” That is, they were all together wrong. They were a group of “people” with greasy wiry hair, yellowed skin, and crooked teeth who eat mud pie filled with rotten vegetables. They lock up humans, and bring them out for show so that other residents of Grimwytch can see their abnormalities – that is, pale skin, white teeth and normal hands and toes. I loved Katherine’s story, and her escape from Grimwytch and the bittersweet ending to her story.
Our main character Eliza was a wonderful and refreshing voice, I especially enjoyed how her character was the perfect amount of strong and naive. I did not feel jarred out of the story as one sometimes does when reading narration from middle grade main characters. Eliza had spunk and strength, yet she (and we the readers) were often reminded that she is still just a kid in a vast land trying to survive. I also loved Shard, I was sad for him and loved his strength. I think that he and Eliza make an absolutely perfect team and I hope that the author plans on giving us more stories of these two and their adventures.
I can’t write this review without talking about Grim Shivers and his associates. You guys know how I love me a villain, well let me tell you, The Grims (though not technically the villains of the novel) in this book were fantastic. I bookmarked the page where they were first mentioned immediately after reading it because I couldn’t get enough and just want more stories and background from these characters. How does one become a Grim, Mr. Black? Do they all stand as overseers of different parts of Grimwytch, much like the witches in the Land of Oz? Tell me more!
There are so many things to love about The Book of Kindly Deaths, Eldritch Black is so descriptive that I couldn’t help but be delighted when picturing the hoardspikes, hackthins, and aranachiros that frequent the land of Grimwytch. The characters were layered and mysterious, and their stories left me wanting more. This is the perfect type of book to pick up if you are a fan of the darker side of middle grade novels. Fans of Claire Legrand and yes, even Neil Gaiman will be delighted to read about the monsters that frequent this land.
Shelf Talker: Overall I loved The Book of Kindly Deaths, it was gothic, and macabre, and all around right up my alley. The novel definitely ended on a note that makes one think that there will definitely be more from Eliza and Shard, and I am happy to say that I can’t wait to see what’s next.