"Saint Death's Daughter" review
Title: Saint Death’s Daughter
Author: C.S.E. Cooney
Subgenre: High fantasy
2022 Bingo squares: Initials, 2022 (HM), Mental health, Shapeshifters (HM), Ifs/Ands/Buts (HM), Family Matters (HM)
Recommended if: you thought the relationship between Vi and Jinx was the best/most compelling part of Arcane and want more of that
Not recommended if: you want high-action or lots of conflict
LGBTQ rep: it’s a queer-normative society and has same-sex relationships, poly relationships, and nonbinary characters, including a major character.
Saint Death’s Daughter is an elaborate family drama centered around the Stoneses, a line of royal assassins and necromancers. The current necromancer Stones is Miscellaneous Stones, known as Lanie, who grows up isolated from the rest of her family (to keep her safe from their influence, as she’s allergic to death and violence, including mentions and intentions of it) and tormented by her older sister Nita.
The Goodreads blurb for Saint Death’s Daughter makes it sound like this a book filled with intrigue, plots, scheming, action, mystery, etc, etc, and there is indeed a bit of that, but really that’s a misrepresentation. What you should expect is a beautiful story about relationships and duty, with mental health playing a strong part as well. Family, friends, lovers, culture, country, tradition, promises, revenge - all of these things play a part against a backdrop of a deeply fleshed-out world with a very cool magic system.
The prose in this novel is not always easy to get through, and you might need to use a dictionary on occasion; there are also a number of footnotes, which aren’t necessary to read, but you probably should, because they’re invariably excellent. It’s quite an experience - certainly not the kind of thing I would unconditionally recommend to everyone, but if you are into this sort of book, you will love it.