Saint Death's Daughter by CSE Cooney
Review - Saint Death's Daughter
Saint Death’s Daughter By C.S.E Cooney
Series: Saint Death’s Series
Date of Publishing: 12th April 2022
Nothing complicates life like Death.
Lanie Stones, the daughter of the Royal Assassin and Chief Executioner of Liriat, has never led a normal life. Born with a gift for necromancy and a literal allergy to violence, she was raised in isolation in the family’s crumbling mansion by her oldest friend, the ancient revenant Goody Graves.
When her parents are murdered, it falls on Lanie and her cheerfully psychotic sister Nita to settle their extensive debts or lose their ancestral home—and Goody with it. Appeals to Liriat’s ruler to protect them fall on indifferent ears… until she, too, is murdered, throwing the nation’s future into doubt.
Hunted by Liriat’s enemies, hounded by her family’s creditors and terrorised by the ghost of her great-grandfather, Lanie will need more than luck to get through the next few months—but when the goddess of Death is on your side, anything is possible.
Saint Death’s Daughter is one of those books that piqued my interest from the moment I heard about it. The story revolves around (soon to come into her necromantic powers) Miscellaneous, or Lanie, Stones.
When we meet Lanie Stones, she is a 15 year old teenager whose parents are quite dead. She comes from the fantastically (in)famous Stones family, whose family have held the postitions of Royal Executioner & Royal Assassin throughout the history of the country of Liriat. In addition to that she comes from a family who are famous Necromancers, and she is born to her gift and is purported to become the most powerful necromancer of her age. However, she suffers from a slight setback in that she is allergic to death. Not only death, but any form of mal intent, which is a major disability in a family that worships and lives for death.
We are introduced to the world of the Stones family in the form of a letter, when Lanie writes to her sister Amanita (Nita) Muscaria Stones informing her of her precarious position and the fact that their parents have left them virtually destitute and owing debts and that their creditor Sari Scratch is demanding that their debts be paid, or marry one of her three sons Scratten, Cracchen or Hatchet Scratch.
The story quickly moves on to Lanie’s sister Nita swooping in from her assigned task of finding a mate to produce a progeny to continue the Stones’s line. She arrives at the Stones manor with her man (who happens to be able to turn into a hawk and is enslaved by a magical gauntlet on Nita’s arm) and they subsequently try to offset the debts that are owed to Sari Scratch. Nita believes that she can a) use her magic to alter the original contract by using her charm magic or b) fill her parents shoes by becoming the Royal executioner and assassin. However, there are some political games being played and the plan does not come to fruition. As a result, the queen employs her for a special task of assassinating the Blackbird Bride and the parliament of Rooks in retaliation for killing her parents (whose father also happened to be the Queens bit on the side).
I don’t know what I was expecting with Saint Death’s Daughter, but what I got was a darkly madcap and macabre tale of assassins, undead, ghosts with a bit of romance thrown in. The prose is completely off the wall with lots of made up terminology and there are various footnotes explaining the history of the Stones family and it’s eccentric members of the clan throughout its history.
In all honesty, I found Saint Death’s Daughter utterly delightful. The prose meanders all over the place, and at times reminded me Jane Austin, with its play on manners and society, with the macabre sense of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast, chucked in for good measure. In addition to that it has that kind of gothic edge to it, which was also reminiscent of The Addams Family. Especially when Datu is introduced to the story, who is Lanie’s niece, and at the age of six is obsessed with killing and goes to bed with a toy trebuchet. And then there is Goody Graves, the revenant who is tied to the family and literally brought up Lanie. and happens to be a bit like Lurch.
I have to say that I don’t really know how to explain this book. It is wonderfully original and I must say that I have absolutely fallen for its bizarre charm, because it is such a charming book. I know that some people may not get along with it, but me? I just straight out and out loved it.