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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. Scythes hungry for souls, Deaths who enslave a race of mysterious magicians, and echoes of an ancient war with Dragons. Caught in the middle of a plot to overthrow the World of Deaths, Suzie must uncover the reason she's been brought there: the first female Death in five thousand years.

Book One of The Scythe Wielder's Secret

270 pages, Audiobook

First published May 2, 2014

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About the author

Christopher Mannino

6 books88 followers
Christopher Mannino holds a Master of Arts in Theatre Education from Catholic University, and has studied mythology and literature both in America and at Oxford University. His work with young people helped inspire him to write young adult fantasy, although it was his love of reading that truly brought his writing to life.

Mannino is currently working on an adult high fantasy series.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 176 reviews
Profile Image for Ben Alderson.
Author 21 books13.5k followers
October 14, 2016
I have read this book twice now and I can't get enough. Just the introduction to such a unqiue world! I am SO excited to get back into book three!
I have read book two twice now as well!
Profile Image for Melissa (Mel’s Bookshelf).
473 reviews287 followers
March 19, 2016
I really enjoyed this YA fantasy. It was different than I was expecting.

Suzie is thrust from her life with her family and friends in the mortal world, and is forced to become a student in the school of deaths, a school that trains 'grim reapers' to harvest souls to take to the after life. There hasn't been another female student in a million years, and Suzie is faced with sexism, ridicule and violence, and she is an outcast. Thankfully not everyone hates her, and with a few friends, Suzie must make her way through her first year to pass the end of year test so that she can return home...

The story was fun and interesting and even though it bore some resemblance to Harry Potter, it was still refreshingly original. I enjoyed Suzie's character. I thought the way she experienced sexism and isolation was quite well written. She has a lot of inner strength which is appealing for me as a fan of strong female characters.

I liked the other characters, her friends and teachers and the "mentals". There were a few good twists and turns throughout the book that I really enjoyed. And I appreciated the ending, leaving it ready for the next one.

It was easy to read and well written, and would absolutely appeal to a wide range of young readers. There were a few adult themes and some violence, I think the majority of YA fans will really enjoy it. I thought the romance was cute and lovely. Death itself is dealt with in an interesting way. I thought it was a really great concept having a school for deaths. And I really enjoyed Suzie learning her way through different aspects of her classes.

And YAY! No love triangles!!! WOOHOO!

Would I recommend School of Deaths?

Yes it was a fun, different yet familiar kind of YA read that I enjoyed. I am looking forward to reading the next one and seeing what is in store for Suzie!

Many thanks to author Christopher Mannino for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

For more reviews check out my blog
Profile Image for Sovanratana.
90 reviews8 followers
February 8, 2016
I have received this book in exchange for an honest review.


So we have main character, Suzie, who at the beginning of the story, is having symptoms of anorexia. She is losing weight and no one knows why or how to stop it. One day a mysterious man came and took her to the Land of the Dead, claiming she is a Death and cannot survive in the human world. Thing is, I she is the first female Death in a million years, the first female Death before her betrayed the Deaths to the enemies and there has never been another female until Suzie. So naturally, her sudden presence in their world scares the other Deaths. Everyday she gets bullied, she gets hate comments not only from her classmates but also her teachers. The only thing she wants is to go home, but she'll have to pass the Final Test to do that, and no one has ever passed. Many things happen and you get to go on a really amazing adventure with Suzie and her (very few) friends as they discover mysteries and solve them.

Ok my lame description probably made the book sound boring but I promise you, it is anything but. I completely flew through it and loved every single minute. There were some mysteries but the book was really fast paced and interesting happens every few pages and chapters.

The world building was absolutely wonderful. Everything from the sceneries, the history, was so beautifully written. There was even a sport in there, a bit kind of like Quidditch, but just as fun and good.

I loved the plot, it was really interesting and there were a few twists that were kind of predictable but I still really enjoyed the big reveal. The story had such an awesome ending that left me wanting more.

I think Suzie was a bit mature for a thirteen year old but that is alright. Sure it seems a bit unrealistic for someone her age to be so mature but I didn't mind. I wouldn't have wanted to deal with a whining, immature main character so I don't have a problem with that.

I also really like the other characters, Billy, Frank, and Jason. They are really great friends to Suzie and I'm totally team Fuzie. Hoping to see that in the next book. We do get a little background info on Billy and Frank but not Jason, and I would've loved to learn more about him.

Christopher Mannino is a really great writer and I'm hoping to get to more of his books soon. (Any ideas of how to get the second book? I live in Cambodia and no bookstores here have it. Also cannot order online :( )

I seriously recommend this book if you have not read it. It is now one of my favorite books, best I read this month, and one of the best I read this year.
Profile Image for Joan Curtis.
Author 11 books193 followers
July 15, 2014
This YA fantasy book was too good to put down. I devoured it in two days. I'm not typically a young adult reader (even though I loved the Book Thief). But this one caught my attention right away and kept it.

Many reviewers talked about it being reminiscent of Harry Potter.I felt it was more reminiscent to the Hunger Games without the children killing children. I can imagine the staging and special effects were it ever to become a movie.

The thirteen-year-old female protagonist captured my heart right away. She was determined and yet vulnerable. I trusted she'd make the right decisions in the many twists and turns she faced.

The author dealt with a number of young adult issues--self image, cliques, competition, test anxiety, loneliness, bullying and more. He uses his fertile creative mind to deal with these issues in most unusual and captivating ways.

Suzie lands in a new world--a world without other woman. She must cope and deal with the taunts and challenges of the others because she is special. The book is fraught with mystery. Just as you think one mystery is solved another crops up. That keeps the suspense going and the pages turning.

I do suspect we will see more of Suzie in future works by Mr. Mannino. Like with the Hunger Games, the School of Deaths is the beginning for a very likable female lead.

I will recommend this book for anyone looking for an entertaining summer read--young adult or otherwise!

Profile Image for Bethany.
Author 22 books94 followers
November 15, 2015
Christopher Mannino does an excellent job with his depiction of the Grim Reaper. He takes you into the world of Deaths, where Suzie finds herself to be the only girl. She is taken from her home, her family, and is roomed with Jason and Billy. The two boys quickly become her friends, which doesn't come easy. The World of the Dead is a man's world and Suzie faces challenges with bullies and arrogant teaches. Not to mention, tasks that lay before Suzie that only she can complete. Like changing the world and finding out who's trying to kill her. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It had action, romance, adventure, comedy. I've already eagerly started the second one, hungry for more. I would definitely recommend this book and am already 20% through the second one it's so good.
Profile Image for Ann Andrews.
Author 13 books432 followers
August 1, 2015
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Loved this book! Suzie is a wonderfully well written and in depth main character. I understood her struggle and appreciated her growth throughout the book. I enjoyed reading about grim reapers as it was a nice and refreshing take on the paranormal genre for me. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Hannah Cassie.
404 reviews143 followers
May 27, 2016
MORE? MORE! @ P.S. I love that book!

I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review! Also, magic, fantasy and school of deaths? What is that? Never heard of such a story before, exciting!

THE WORLD: So at first it seems all normal, our every day world. But then boom our main character gets kidnapped by a death and taken to the world of deaths. Here she has to complete a year of training in order to take the test that might let her go home. If not she is stuck in this world forever. Creepy. Now the World of Death is mainly a land where College stands and some forests surrounding it. Oh and there are also mountains where Dragons live but we don't see them in this book sadly. At least not yet.

CHARACTERS: The thing about the World of Deaths is that Suzie, our main character, is the only female. Yeah, a perfect world of men. Reminded me a lot of this movement going on about men rights lately. Weird and creepy. Tho also rather stereotypical because all men are showed as bullies basically. Almost all, but yeah you get the idea. Anyways, Suzie...well she is a female and she is only 13 which was a shock to me. I expected this book to be about older teenagers. The thing is her age really showed in the book, she was naive and supposedly strong but that felt fake considering she was kidnapped from her home and put into this world of bullies. I am not a big fan of her to be honest. Not saying she is a bad character, it just for me did not feel real. Next to Suzie we have a few friends: Billy, Frank and Jason. I really do not get the thing with names, they do not fit in this book at all. Suzie and Billy are somebody you either like or don't. Why? Simply because it felt too middle school and too much concern about kissing. For me personally, as a 20 something it felt all very childlike and therefore, I think the problem of this book was that it is targeted a little bit wrong. Jason as a matter of fact was my lest favorite. And also I had a huge problem following who is who for like 50 pages. Not sure why.

I think when it comes to characters it really feels like a first book in the series. Up till the action started I was a little bit bored. It might be just me not being a fan of middle grade books but it might be also a lack in character development. I am not sure. But if you are looking for some easy-no-internal-drama-save-the-world type of characters these are the ones you should go to. They at least do not make you angry and that is always a plus.

LOVE: This for me felt the weakest part of the book. Basically Suzie likes Frank but then Billy kisses her and suddenly she likes Billy. I somehow either missed or there was no relationship development in the first place. It just happened, like boom in thee middle of the chapter.

PLUS: I really liked the concept of Elementals. I wish we got to explore more of them. And also magic, magic is always amazing to read about.

MINUS: We did not get to read about Dragons!!! But other than that my main minus would be that even it is advertised as YA books it really was a middle grade with some swearing words. Also, what was that about? All the swears felt so out of place and so forced. I mean you can use swear words sure but these felt too forced. I think this could be handled better.

OVERALL: It was an okay read. Really picked up in the last pages so that I think gave an extra star to this book for me. But again, it is not a YA book.

MORE? MORE! @ P.S. I love that book!
Profile Image for Kate .
60 reviews13 followers
January 18, 2016
*I received a free copy of this book through NetGallery in exchange for an honest review.*

I really enjoyed this book. It was quite different than I thought it would be and it actually pleasantly surprised me.

Basically, the book is about this 13 year old girl Suzie, who turns out to be the first female death in a million years. After being forced to enter the Death's college she has to stay there for at least a year to learn how to reap, etc. However, since she is the only girl there, she faces a lot of difficulties and challenges.

The book got of to a bit of a slow start and I didn't think I'd like it much at first, but after a few chapters it got a lot better and more interesting. I feel a lot of first books in a series suffer from that, so I wouldn't hold it against this book.

One thing I really liked about it, was the world building. The World of the Hereafter was described beautifully and in a way that I was able to picture everything quite easily. The characters were also written well in my opinion and I especially liked the way the Elementals were described. The more I read, the more I liked the writer's style as well.

All in all I’ll give this book a 4 out of 5 stars. It was a great start to what hopefully will be a great series. I can really recommend this book to people who like fantasy and YA novels.

And even though it starts slow, it more than makes up for it in the end. I think I will read the second book as soon as I can get my hands on it. :)
Profile Image for C.J. Anaya.
Author 25 books517 followers
May 1, 2015
This is an interesting and well plotted young adult/middle grade novel about a girl being forced to enter a world and accept a life she never would have chosen for herself. Suzie is the first female death in a million years, but she has huge obstacles to face because of the strong hatred held for women at the School of Deaths. Her struggles to brave the bullying and continue forward are commendable, and I think addressing the issue of bullying at this early age is important to note. We feel the humiliation and embarrassment Suzie suffers due to unfair prejudices, open hostility and verbal abuse. I think it is important that teens understand how this behavior can hurt others. We're certainly able to place ourselves in Suzie's shoes.

The school and surrounding areas are described in rich detail, and the culture and customs were intriguing. I had a few Harry Potter moments during the book due to the similar dress codes, schooling experiences and the school sport described in the book. This is not a Harry Potter copy cat, mind you, and has absolutely nothing to do with the subject matter, but the feel of discovery and anticipation for something unique and exciting felt similar with a few detailed items shared.

I think Suzie is brave and adventurous. A loyal friend and likeable heroine. She has plenty of room for character growth and development which is good considering she is only thirteen. I loved that her house mates were so kind and supportive, a real team made up of two young boys attempting to come to terms with their own lives being turned upside down.

There is obviously more to this story than meets the eye with the introduction of a different species, the history of Suzie's ancestors and the tantalizing idea that Dragons were the original grim reapers and not the current deaths running the show. It will be interesting to see where this author takes the storyline and characters from here.

I enjoyed this novel right from the beginning, and would highly recommend it to fans of middle grade and young adult fantasy and paranormal genres. I'd even recommend it to all of the fanatic Harry Potter fans out there. That's right all of you Harry Potter nerds, present company included. You're welcome.
Profile Image for BookLoversLife.
1,803 reviews9 followers
March 15, 2016
This was such a unique and enjoyable take on the Grim Reaper. I ended up thoroughly enjoying it!!

13 yer old Suzie is rapidly losing weight and her parents are worried. Despite her reassuring them that there is nothing wrong with her, and she is eating, she is like a skeleton. Test after test comes back with the result that she is healthy, so why is he like this? Well that's answered one evening when a man dressed up like a reaper with a real scythe come knocking at her door. Nest thing she knows, Suzie is transported to a place she doesn't know. She is told that she has the choice of either staying at the school of deaths and becoming a grim reaper, or going straight back home and dying. Not much of a choice but the only thing is that if she stays a year in the school and passes her exams, she has another choice of continuing on to become a Grim or going back home after the year. Suzie decides to stay the year and then head home, but then she is informed that she is the first female death in a million years, and the last female one, turned bad! It's very much a male dominated world!

Suzie was awesome!!! She is dying in the real world and when given the choice, she chooses to stay the year and pass the test and then return home. Despite most of the school, and indeed, some of the teachers bullying and belittling her, Suzie keeps her head high and carries on. She is brave, kind, loyal to her friends and smart. With her small band of friends, Suzie thrives and tries to become the best grim she can be.

The plot of this was fast paced and engaging. I loved the world the author has created, with the Elementals, Grims, Living Scythe, Dragons and the lore behind everything. It was fascinating and entertaining. The author really brings it to life with the vivid details and rich detail! The author also deals with the bullying issues really well. Her friends rally behind her and help her through it.

Anyway, in all this is a fresh and unique take on an age old idea, that will grab you from the start and not let go. From it's captivating characters, to its gripping plot, School of Deaths is a must read. I, for one, can not wait for the next one!!

*I received a copy of this for review. This in no way affected my thoughts.*
Profile Image for Majanka.
Author 82 books409 followers
December 5, 2014
Book Review originally posted here: http://www.iheartreading.net/book-tou...

In School of Deaths, thirteen-year-old Suzie has been having some trouble as of late: she lost a lot of wait, and starts to look like a skeleton. When it turns out this transformation is due to her becoming a Grim Reaper, she’s less than pleased. She will go to the College of Deaths for a year, where she will learn everything there is to know about being a Death, and bringing souls to the Hereafter. She has one year to prepare for a test that’ll decide her destiny, a test almost everyone fails. On top of that, she happens to be the only girl in an all-male college, in fact the only female Death in centuries, making her a target for just about everyone.

This series is off to a promising start. Suzie is an entertaining, realistic character, who grows a lot as the book progresses, and finds her inner strength. She got a rough deal, but she manages to stay strong, no matter what. The world-building is vivid and original, and kind of reminded me of a darker version of Harry Potter. The plot is unique though, setting it apart from other books, and providing a solid start for a brand new series.

Recommended to everyone who likes young adult fantasy. I’m looking forward to the sequel.
Profile Image for Naturalbri (Bri Wignall).
1,005 reviews98 followers
January 17, 2016
This was a really great book. It had a really good plot, based round the life of the grimms.

The characters were created very well. They all worked well in their groups, and made the story very real. I liked that each of them interacted in the way you would expect from a group of school children, sometimes this leads to laughter and happiness, but others it leads to anger and sadness, especially for our main character.

I love that the book approaches so many of the problems and life points that's kids and adults alike have to deal with. We see them lived through and solved by those same kids. One of the biggest issues that has to be dealt with is our main character being the only female in the school. We read along as she works her way through the new world she has joined.

I enjoyed the pace of the book. It was swift enough to keep me moving forward in the read. I found it hard to put it down, and I actually found myself flying through the pages, and finishing the book in only a couple days. I did like that there were also slower points in the pace, to allow for me to really take in the world and what was taking place.

Overall, this is an excellent ya read.
Profile Image for Stefany Rattles.
Author 19 books30 followers
August 1, 2015
Excellent YA Paranormal Fantasy book!

Like many will say, this book will remind you of Harry Potter (it is not the same). It does have its own story that has a mix of Paranormal & Fantasy in it. The main character, Suzie is also young, just at thirteen when she is introduced to us. Part of this story hit a spot with me. The bullying made me cringe a little inside because I could relate to what Suzie was going through. That's all I'm going to say about that so I don't it for you readers.
Personally I liked the plot and how the main characters were well written, especially since they're young. Some authors fail to capture their age voice right but I think that Mr. Mannino did a good job here.
In the future I hope to see a sequel or maybe a spin off?
Profile Image for Mikayla Kennaugh .
48 reviews4 followers
August 8, 2015
I really enjoyed this book. Overall it had a great plot and awesome characters. I only though the characters should have maybe been a little bit older, mostly because there seems to be a romance brewing and the main character is only 13. So, I feel high school age might have been a little bit better. Though overall I could hardly put this book down and was dying to keep reading until the end. I loved the idea of the world of deaths. Also there was a plot twist in it that I totally did not see coming, which made it even better! I will definitely read this again and hopefully read the sequel in the future. I would suggest this to any fellow sci-fi lovers. One of the best books I have read recently.
Profile Image for aprilreads_andwanders.
119 reviews29 followers
June 28, 2016
I received a review copy of this title from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book.

This was a quick entertaining read with just enough mystery and intrigue to keep me vested, however, there were some things that fell a little flat for me.

The concept and the world was intriguing. You have the Living World, The In-Between- where the College of Deaths resides and Deaths train to reap souls, and the Hereafter-where the Deaths take the souls for their final resting place. I had a good grasp of the worlds and their function, and the author left them just underdeveloped enough to make me want to learn more about them in future installments.

There hasn’t been a female Death in a million years—not since Lovethar whose legacy is unpleasant….until Suzie. Needless to say Suzie has her work cut out for her. She is stuck in a male dominated world, that she didn’t ask or want to be a part of, and it is made abundantly clear that the overwhelming majority of male Deaths can’t stand her presence there. The only way for Suzie to get back home to the Living World and her family is to pass a test at the end of the year; a test that nobody seems to ever pass. I appreciated Suzie’s courage, tenacity, and perseverance. She kept her goal in sight, and worked toward it despite every obstacle.

There were several mysteries, questions, points of intrigue….and ultimately these are what kept me vested and turning the pages: I wanted to know the story behind Lovethar- was how she was portrayed actually what happened? How would Suzie cope in this world where she was the only female? Who would become her allies and who would become her enemies, and would they stay that way? How will Suzie do on her final test? What happens to the souls in the Hereafter?

Suzie’s time can be divided into two parts: the time Before, where Suzie lived in the Living World with her family, and After- the time after she was taken to the In-Between to become a Death. The summer before she was taken, Suzie was rapidly losing weight, to the point that her parents were concerned and she was seeing doctors. The author went through great pains to describe Before Suzie- “skeletal” was used often, the image of Suzie counting her twenty four ribs, or the nineteen bones in her hand, having “tightly stretched skin” was used multiple times, being labeled anorexic….this became redundant. Yes, there was a reason for it, yes, it was plot driven but it was overdone in my opinion.

Some specific word use didn’t sit well with me.

(Suzie looking down at her hands) “Each bone poked through her tightly stretched skin. She counted nineteen bones in each hand, not counting her wrists. Disgusting.”

(After being taken, Suzie looking in a mirror) “Her face was fleshy and her body hinted at curves. The skeletal girl was a distant memory. She was pretty again."

Yes, I know its fiction. Yes, I know there is a plot driven reason behind the ideas. However, I think that there needs to be caution when attaching words to body image, especially when those words are geared toward young readers. The word “disgusting” is attached to being super thin, and the idea that “she was pretty again” is attached to having some curves. Not every girls has curves. I have taught teenagers with failure to thrive..(or even without failure to thrive, some people are just thin. Period. And many are just as self- conscious as women who feel they are overweight) I think that they would very much identify with Suzie’s struggles before she was taken to the In-Between. It didn’t matter what or how much they ate (I taught someone who had to come to school with a feeding tube) their body would just not get the nutrients it needed and they could not gain weight. I wonder what they would think if they read those words. Would they take it as fiction, and a plot device, or would those words resonate with them? I get the idea, I just think it could have been executed better. For example, instead of “I am pretty again” Suzie could have said “I look like me again.”.

Other than Suzie, the characters felt a little flat and two- dimensional, however since there will be future installments there is time for them to be developed further. The writing lacked fluidity, and felt stilted at times, but all in all, this book has potential. It had some good aspects that I enjoyed, but some others that fell short.
Profile Image for The Book Breeze.
159 reviews3 followers
January 14, 2015
This YA fantasy has an unusual setting and a somewhat bizarre plot. At the beginning of the story, Suzie struggles to deal with an illness that mystifies doctors. No matter how much she eats, she continues to lose weight and nobody can tell her why. Then, a stranger arrives and tells her that she is a “Death” – she needs to travel with him to a new school and learn to deal with her powers or she’ll die in the mortal realm.

Suzie reluctantly begins this adventure only to find herself enmeshed in a world that doesn’t welcome or accept her. Everyone, students, teachers, and administrators tell her that the last female Death was a disgrace. Of course, they think Suzie will turn out to be just like her and this means she has more than one enemy. She also has a few allies. And of course, she wants to go home back to the family that loves her although she doesn’t want to die.

Not all of the characters in this story are likeable, but they are consistent. The ones who hate Suzie do their best to balk her search to discover the truth about why she is there. They aren’t afraid to attack her and she finds herself grateful for her new friends. They believe in her and trust that she has a plan even if she isn’t sure of what she wants, much less needs to do. It took a while to establish the rules of this world, but that made sense. How often does a person go to the School of Deaths?

While Suzie struggled with unsympathetic teachers, tough assignments and learning how to handle a scythe, characters such as Billy and Cronk helped make the story come alive. They not only felt like they needed to help her, they also had terrific motivation. Cronk felt guilty for finding her and bringing her to the school. Billy found himself falling in love with his new room-mate. On the one hand, he wanted to protect her – but on the other, he didn’t want to lose his status in the school.

With a well-developed setting, strong characters, a fairly fast moving plot, and snappy dialogue, this novel should keep readers engaged from the beginning to the end. The pace picks up in the middle – no sagging – and the resolution was totally unexpected. Since Suzie is only in her first year at the School of Deaths, it will be hard to wait for her to continue her education. She may be the first female “Death,” but hopefully she won’t be the last.

This review was provided by Shannon Kennedy for her column Shannon's Space for the Sept 2014 issue of The Book Breeze
Profile Image for Mike Siedschlag.
389 reviews16 followers
May 30, 2016
I received a print copy of School of Deaths from author Christopher Mannino for review.

School of Deaths is the first installment of The Scythe Wielder's Secret series, and a great first installment I might add.

This young adult novel is a well crafted story that will appeal to readers of all ages. Our heroine is a thirteen year old girl who has been snatched from the real world and taken to train to become a "Death". She is literally the only female in a male world (not a spoiler, it's on the back cover).

At the School of Deaths we have a coming of age story set in the land of the Grim Reapers (Yeah, there are more than one). We also have mystery, romance, violence and intrigue. We have mystical creatures, divided loyalties and a game that makes the game from Harry Potter look like Tiddly-Winks. A case could be made for drawing similarities to the H.P. books I suppose, but aside from a school and a vicious game, the similarities disappear.

Author Mannino does a good job of taking a setting that would by definition be very dark and creepy, and making it our new reality. We quickly accept the world of the Deaths to be real, and life there does go on more or less normally.

There are hints as to what is coming down the pipeline, The Scythe Wielder's Secret is a series after all. The local history includes dragons, so I am hoping they will make an appearance in future episodes. Mysteries are solved in this book, and there are mysteries that continue (I suppose that's why it's a series, can't get anything past me).

Some of the violence is graphic, but not exceptionally so. There are passages of terror and danger, and budding romance. School of Deaths is a good clean read with out being watered down. It treats the reader as if they are intelligent and sophisticated. It does not talk down or condescend (Yeah I know, same thing) to the reader. This is what makes it good for any age.

I would not have a problem letting any young reader who can understand the concept of "fantasy", read School of Deaths by Christopher Mannino. I, for one look forward to reading more of this series. Enjoy!

Profile Image for Laura.
48 reviews14 followers
August 31, 2014
This book was provided by the author and Paranormal Romance and Authors That Rock in exchange for a review.

Susan Sarnio is a typical 13 year old girl. Except she is slowly wasting away and no doctor can figure out what is wrong with her. Until the hooded figure she dreams of at night comes for her and takes her to another world where she will be trained for her true calling....to be a Death, a Grim Reaper. She is an anomaly - the first female Death in a million years. The only female at the College of Deaths, most of the people around her, students and teachers combined, do not want her there and do not feel that she belongs there. But she was brought there for a reason, and it is up to her to figure out who did it and why. And will she ever make it back home?

School of Deaths is the first book by author Christopher Mannino, and is a promising start should it be continued as a series. At first glance, it would be easy to compare this to Harry Potter or even Percy Jackson. But the idea of children being trained to be Deaths, and that they start reaping at such a young age, is a unique one. The author's vivid descriptions of the World Of Death and those who live there made it very easy to be drawn right in. Pairing that with well-written characters made the book hard to put down. For being a story that contains various types of people and creatures, the author does not overwhelm you with the number of characters - it was very easy to keep track of who was who and their place in the story, though I did lose track a little when more Elementals ('Mentals) were introduced. I did not find the story to be predictable at all, and there were some very interesting twists along the way. The book came to an appropriate conclusion, though it did leave enough open items for future books without there being a cliffhanger ending.

I look forward to more stories from the World of Death. I would recommend this book to fans of YA and Fantasy, and people who enjoy stories like those of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. I give School of Deaths four fangs.
Profile Image for Cristen.
5 reviews1 follower
August 6, 2015
I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was captivated from the beginning, having been sucked in by Suzie's bizarre illness and her refreshingly pragmatic attitude. She is such a strong, strong female protagonist. Her tenacity and grace in the face of ridicule and throughout extremely difficult situations were uplifting, and so missing in many leading females in fiction. I almost want to criticize her fleeting feelings of self-doubt, but it was believable and not overdone. I could sympathize with her, and I was inspired by her inner voice which gave her strength when she needed it.

The main characters in the book, a group of friends, work very well cohesively which I appreciated. I have read many series where the main characters make things harder on themselves by manifesting drama and withholding information from each other or from people who could help them, and it's so frustrating. It makes me disappointed, and I can't help but wonder what they could accomplish if they were more open and trusting of one another. It's hard to enjoy a book when you're constantly distracted by how much better it could be. I didn't have to worry about that with this book! One character has a pretty big reveal toward the end of the book, but it is so central to the story that it is a welcome secret.

I think the only thing that I will criticize is the bullying and the closed-mindedness by the men and boys in the school. The utilization of the human ability to change history in the retelling was great, but I hated how indoctrinated against women many of the students and teachers had become. They all came from earth, had mothers and presumably other females in their lives. I am sure after decades, one's experiences can be clouded, but I have a hard time believing that some of those boys would have been so brainwashed so early in their schooling.

It is rare for me to give a five-star review, and I have to be honest, I didn't expect to find this book worthy. Overall I am very pleased, and can't wait to read the next one!
Profile Image for Aoife.
1,334 reviews585 followers
December 9, 2016
I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Suzie Sarnio is the first female Death in a million years, and has to go to school in a whole other world to learn how to become one. Suzie faces hatred, misogny and a whole load of other travels as she attempts to learn how to become something she never wanted to be in the first place.

The premise of this is really good and I really enjoyed learning all about the college for Deaths, and the classes and how the students lived their lives. There was a small touch of Hogwarts about it which I enjoyed. I would have liked a bit more insight into the lessons rather than just the first day and then the scythe lessons. The story was well written and I enjoyed the writing, and I am intrigued enough to pick up the second book for sure.

I did have some problems with this book. The start of it was a tad repetitive at times, with Suzie constantly repeating how she was eating a lot and not anorexic when explaining her weight loss and that got a bit annoying. One of the main things that bothered me was the way Suzie was treated by her fellow students for being female. Suzie is only 13 years old in the book and the level of hatred directed at her by a group of angry men was troublesome. I understand the need to make Suzie be an outcast because she is different but I think it was very inappropriate and just not nice to have older guys constantly calling Suzie a bitch and slut.

I did love the fact this book included Suzie’s first period and her fear and problems being in a literal world full of men, and no access to sanitary pads or tampons. However, she had her period for one night and it was never spoken about again, and then several months passed so I would have liked an update to see how she was dealing with all that stuff.

Profile Image for SheReads.
665 reviews91 followers
January 22, 2016
Man, being the only girl in a school full of boys? Sounds like the dream, doesn't it? It does until you learn about the last female that walked those halls a million years ago - the one that was powerful and seen as the enemy to those same people within those halls. That's the world that young Suzie finds herself in when she is taken from her life in order to attend the school that will train her to be a "death" - the people that escort the freshly dead to the hereafter. She is met by suspicion, fear, and huge amount of ridicule from the very first moment she set foot in the school. Little did anyone know - she was not the one who deserved their fear. She was not the one working with the dragons in the mountains or plotting against her peers. Along with a few new and dedicated friends, Suzie must uncover the truth and discover who can be trusted.

This was such an intriguing book. I loved Suzie. I found her very real. She towed the line brilliantly between being brave and able to face whatever comes her way - and acting like a young teenage girl. There were a few places where I wished the pace would speed up a bit but that didn't really detract from my enjoyment. The only thing I had an issue with were certain teenage experience that were glossed over a bit too much. For example - a girl's first kiss or the day she becomes a woman. I strongly believe that those types of experiences either need to be dealt with on a deep level or not mentioned at all. I would have preferred the latter for one of those - so that it didn't feel like a random throw in.

In the end though, this was a really great book that kept me from getting anything else done until I finished reading it. Haha - I can't wait to see what happens next.
Profile Image for Star.
1,288 reviews63 followers
June 27, 2014
Suzie Sarnio from Damascus, Maryland is having a rough summer – no matter how much she eats, she’s skin and bones. Her family is worried and has even sent her to a counselor. However, she doesn’t have an eating disorder or any other psychological issues. She finds out she’s been chosen to be a Death. Leaving behind her friends and family, she travels to the World of Deaths only to find out she’s the first female Death in a million years. A majority of the other Deaths, including her teachers, hate and fear her and what she means to their world. Determined to find out the truth behind a plot to overthrow the current way of life in the World of Deaths, she must learn why she was chosen and what really happened to the most infamous female Death of all time.

Living in Maryland myself, I always get a little excited when a character is from Maryland or a book is set in Maryland. SCHOOL OF DEATHS features a main character from Maryland – Suzie Sarnio, who is the first female Death in a million years. This book features a unique premise set in a place with which we’re all familiar – school. The Death School is no different than any other as there are bullies, mean teachers, and difficult homework. SCHOOL OF DEATHS is a thought-provoking and enjoyable story. I enjoyed all the characters and following Suzie’s journey as she navigated a treacherous new world. I am definitely a fan of how we learned the truth along with Suzie and her friends instead of knowing before they did. SCHOOL OF DEATHS is a well-written YA novel with an intriguing premise and solid characters.
Profile Image for Amanda  B Gillespie.
512 reviews15 followers
October 25, 2015
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Suzie Sarnio is a 13-year-old girl starting 8th grade. She is literally skin and bones and no doctor can explain it. She is also having dreams of a robed man with a scythe. She is taken by this man as her mom watches and brought to the in between as the first female Death in a million years. She must spend a year learning how to be a Death and all that the job entails. Not only does she have to suffer the loss she feels from being uprooted from her family, she also has to struggle with the constant torment she receives at the hands of the entire male population of Deaths. The only ones that befriend her are her roommates Billy, Frank, and Jason. Soon she learns about the first female Death that was put to death for betraying the Deaths and allying with the Elemental's ('Mentals) to forge a war that would ultimately place the 'Mentals into slavery. Suzie must uncover the past and determine where she truly belongs and what role she must play to right the wrongs that occurred those many years ago. Will she be successful? Stay tuned to find out in book 2 Sword of Deaths (The Scythe Wielder's Secret Book 2) by Christopher Mannino
Profile Image for Patrick Hodges.
Author 49 books120 followers
November 13, 2015
Imagine that you're an awkward 13-year-old girl just trying to muddle her way through her awkward early-teen years when you discover that you're literally wasting away before your eyes.

Imagine then that you're transported to a strange new place, a school where you are to be trained as a Death, one of those black-hooded, scythe-wielding specters you've read about, responsible for transporting souls to the afterlife.

Now imagine that you're the first female death at this training academy in a MILLION years.

You face bullying from students, sexism from teachers, and want nothing more than to go home. But something else, something nefarious, is coinciding with your arrival...

Christopher Mannino has written an engaging, fun-to-read story about Susan Sarnio, a brave young girl with a stout heart and a streak of justice. Thrust into a world she wants nothing more than to escape from, she finds herself at the forefront of an oncoming war that threatens to erupt between Deaths and Elementals.

I love that Mannino didn't make Susan seem too old, nor too young. She's awkward and teenager, which is what you'd expect surrounded by boys all day, but she's also fearless and takes crap from NO ONE, which is how I like my heroines.

I look forward to the next book in the series!!
Profile Image for Amanda Shelley-Masters.
436 reviews21 followers
October 17, 2014
*This Book Was Given To Me By The Author In Exchange For An Honest Review*

Amazing Story! I found myself immersed in the story from the first page! Christopher Mannino is a fabulous author who really knows how to captivate his audience. The characters where captivating and the storyline adventurous, mysterious and fascinating.

the one girl in a all boys world was a genius idea, it not only leaves her vulnerable but helps her to find her strengths at the same time. Frank was my favourite character, not only for what we find out about him but because he never doubts Suzie throughout no matter what she faces.

I am a HUGE fan of reaper stories and this one is right at the top with my other favs as it was a blast to read! I really hope that there is more as I would like to see what happens next!

The villain in this one was great as well as they were stealthy and evil minded just as a good villain should be. I am really looking forward to seeing what he will be up to in the next book if there is one.

If you have a great love of reaping stories like I do then this is a story for you! TBR today!

***Review has been done in conjunction with Nerd Girl Official.
For more information regarding our reviews please visit our Fansite: www.facebook.com/NerdGirl.ng ***
Author 1 book16 followers
June 9, 2014
Occasionally, a book touches a person’s soul. It may simply be timing in a person’s life. For whatever reason, School of Deaths touched me. It brought tears to my eyes. I admit, I am a softy. I have a soft, compassionate heart.
Right from the beginning, I was hooked. An introduction to the heroine Susie. A normal teenager who is losing weight for no apparent reason. It isn’t the first time an illness, or so it would seem, stumps the medical world. The unthinkable happens and Suzie finds herself in a strange world filled with conflicts. This book has a bit of Harry Potter and more then a splash of a live theatre production I saw years ago.
Characters - All well thought out and described.
Plot - what a concept. Well done!
Overall - I loved this story. I'm looking forward to see the growth in this author. Ok, Mr. Mannino. You have a fan. Please tell me you are working on a sequel. I’m looking forward to reading it. 4 ½ stars.
Profile Image for Sue Brooks.
463 reviews6 followers
August 18, 2015
Christopher Mannino is a new author for me to read - and I have to say, that I am totally impressed with his writing skills!!!

School of Deaths is about thirteen-year-old Suzie. Suzie has been having a problem with loosing weight and looking like a skeleton. Her family and dr's all think that she has a serious medical problem, but can't figure out what it is. When the Grim Reaper comes and takes her away, Suzie doesn't know what to think. I don't write spoilers - so, if you want to know what happens next, you are going to have to read the book. And believe me ----you will NOT be disappointed. I found that this is a book that is hard to put down!!!

Christopher does a fantastic job with making you feel like you are taking part in the story. His detail to descriptions is AWESOME!!!

I'm looking forward to the next book in this series. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for AK Mama Reads.
453 reviews45 followers
April 29, 2015
I enjoyed the story of Suzie and her friends, but felt that there were a few things missing. For instance, a bit less explanation of why things are the way they are, and more explanation of how she reacts to this rather bizarre world would have given us more insight into Suzie's personality. At times I felt like I understood her naivety, but often I felt that she was unrealistically unaware of typical social expectations. On the plus side, the magical world had me rather intrigued so I picked this up and didn't want to stop reading until I was finished! Overall, this was a fun fantasy with engaging world building and amusing characters. With a bit of polishing this 3.5 star read could easily reach 5 star status! Recommended for readers of fantasy lore, and those who like a nice adventure!

***Free arc provided in exchange for a completely honest review.***
Profile Image for Kay.
4 reviews
July 2, 2015
Let's start with one simple statement:


This book, the characters and the world created by Mannino is absolutely spectacular.
Thirteen year old Susie steps into a world filled with what we call monsters and faces the challenges of being the only female death in a million years and being judged by the legacy that the only other female death left behind.

It's a thrilling story of a girl finding her place in a world meant for men, making friends, finding herself and facing challenges no other thirteen year old even dreams of, and I loved it. I could go nit picking if I wanted to but it's a gorgeous story in a brilliantly sculpted world filled with mysteries and challenges. It was easy to read and follow and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

If you enjoyed Harry potter you would probably love school of deaths and I for one can't wait for the next installment!
Profile Image for Antionette.
381 reviews
September 9, 2015
Susan is a young girl of 13 who has found herself very sickly over a summer. Her doctors are stumped, all her tests show nothing wrong but she's losing weight.. Very quickly. Skin and bones, sunken in cheeks. Her mom is constantly shoving food down her throat... No one can figure it out. One day there is a knock at the doors. And her whole world changes.... She discovers she has been chosen to be a death.... A grim reaper of souls. The adventure she goes on, is emotional and difficult. She discovers she is the only female Death. There's a whole lot more that happens. Rules to follow, a way to go back home..... I loved this story even though the characters are young, it was very well written and a great plot. Looking forward to the next book,

I was given this book for my honest opinion. And there you have it.
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