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The Kiss of Death

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Elizabeth Chauncey is a well-off young woman in 14th century London. Though she is considered nobility due to a distant relative, she refuses to think of herself as such. She is close to a childhood friend, Matthias de Bourgueville, with whom she spends much of her time. They have just returned from an outing at the theatre when her world is shaken up.

Suddenly the servants have taken sick, and soon everyone in London is becoming ill with a mysterious disease. People are dying rapidly and the physicians can do little to halt the spread of disease. Elizabeth and Matthias begin to lose family members, causing a rift in their relationship as love and religion come between them. For what kind of God would inflict such pain and cruelty?

Finally, when her home is bolted shut and she and her sick and dying family are trapped inside a Plague House with no escape, Elizabeth is faced with a choice: remain and die, or flee and take cover in the faith that God will protect her. But time is running out, and she is losing hope. To top things off, Matthias has professed his undying love for her and a proposal of marriage. But if they’re all to die anyway, what is the point of going on?

In short, this is a story of a young woman faced with the pain of loss and decision to stay strong in a world that’s destined to destroy her and everything she loves. It is the tale of looking death in the eye and turning the other cheek. But when faith is lost and death is omnipresent, will she refuse its kiss?

62 pages, Paperback

First published June 6, 2015

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About the author

Sarah Natale

1 book17 followers
Sarah Natale is the author of debut book, The Kiss of Death, which was actually an assignment in her senior creative writing class. She has always had a fascination for the tragedy that devastated 1/3 of Europe’s population and was excited to craft a story around the historical event. Far from the short story requirement, The Kiss of Death demonstrated writing skills akin to a professional author and launched her writing career. The Kiss of Death was awarded the 2014 Helen Wright Scholarship in creative writing.

Sarah has been called an L.A. Gal (Language Arts Girl) due to her passion for words ever since she could hold a pencil. An entire shelf of notebooks populates her bookshelf, spilling into the second shelf. She loves reading, writing, figure skating, and playing classical piano. She can be found surrounded by books, open notebook, pen in hand. Sarah Natale, literally translated, means the Princess of Christmas.

Sarah is pursuing a double major in Creative Writing and Public Relations at Drake University. She is from the suburbs of Chicago where she is at work on her next book.

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5 stars
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14 (25%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 48 reviews
Profile Image for Justine Domagall.
Author 2 books
September 28, 2018
I really liked The Kiss of Death. The story was intriguing and the book was very well-written. The author also obviously did a lot of research on the time frame that the story took place in to add extra detail.

My only critique is that I wish it had been longer. I think that the story definitely had the potential to be a full novel, and the characters were interesting enough that I would have liked to get to know them better. I think that a longer book with more time for character development would have allowed me to be more engaged with the story.
1 review
June 13, 2020
A Book Review
by: Billy K.

“The Kiss of Death”
Written by Sarah Natale

Let’s take a walk… shall we. A walk through Medieval London, 1348 to be exact.

So here we go. If you listen closely you can hear the sounds of people in the streets, their shoes echoing against the cobblestone, voices long forgotten – speaking of things not of our time. Beautiful images of old London: its theatres, store fronts, bridges, cathedrals and many other interesting structures.

Just around the corner and up the street lives Elizabeth Chauncey, 16 years old and the heroine of our story. Elizabeth lives with her family: mother, father, younger sister and younger brother. A cook and servant are also a part of their household. The family lives a comfortable life – not rich, not poor, just a bit above comfortable.

Elizabeth is in love with Matthias de Bourgueville: 19 years old, handsome, kind, courteous and respectable. Elizabeth’s family is very close with Matthias’s family; however, Elizabeth’s mother and father would never condone any marital relationship between Matthias and Elizabeth, something to do with being noble. Matthias is everything Elizabeth wants in a husband, but she does not know if Matthias feels the same about her. So what to do? It will take time… Something all Londoners will be short of in the very near future.

Meanwhile, back on the streets of London… Did I mention the plague? Well, the plague has just introduced itself to the people of medieval London.

That beautiful image of London I painted for you earlier is now becoming a twisted, surreal and evil playground of death…

The plague quickly spreads throughout London. The smell of death is everywhere. People lay dying or dead in the public square. Homes are condemned and boarded up. Doctors are at a loss, religious institutions closed, strange rituals are performed and birdlike masks are created and worn to prevent the disease from claiming another victim.

But what of Elizabeth and her desire to pursue a future with Matthias? The plague struck Elizabeth’s household just as hard and devastating as it had done to thousands of other London homes. In the midst of the plague, Elizabeth has a sensitive and more than memorable conversation with her mother. A scene that begs its re-reading. Nicely written, Sarah…

Elizabeth’s life is suddenly propelled into a mixture of terror, uncertainty and escape. Quickly changing events, the absolute horror of living life surrounded by the plague. Does the plague have legs? Will it, can it follow you no matter where you go? What about Matthias – will he survive? Will Elizabeth survive? Will they be married despite her family and the plague?

The author pauses to give the reader just enough time to digest what she just laid out in front of them. Then, with one quick stroke of the pen, she grabs the reader by the heart, looks them in the eye and reveals…

Note to the author:
Dear Sarah Natale, your characters have captured our hearts and imaginations. You have drawn us into a time and place like no other. If patience is said to be a virtue – then a sequel must be patient.
Profile Image for Kate.
10 reviews1 follower
April 15, 2019
Great story of how the black plague quickly affected everyday life in the 14th century. Cannot wait to see what happens with Elizabeth and Matthias stories.
1 review
October 9, 2019
The author did an amazing job with their verbiage and tying it into the time period. It was easy to read and I loved the character Elizabeth. What a strong woman character that young people today need to be inspired by!!!“
Profile Image for Stefanie.
2 reviews
April 23, 2020
With the current 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, The Kiss of Death has been a popular read for my 7th grade students. I am presenting them with access to Sarah Natale's debut novella via read aloud, and it's been very interesting to see students interact with the characters and (relatable) conflicts. We are studying Sarah Natale's craft as a writer by noticing the extensive research that she clearly conducted throughout the text, and it's a great read for anyone who is interested in comparing the 14th century plague to today's pandemic.

I was wary (at first) to share this book as a read aloud option during this challenging time (i.e. Coronavirus AND distance learning anxiety); however, it should be known that this book offers readers hope and reassurance that the pay off is rich when one maintains resilience and focused energy toward survival.

Another point worth mentioning is the fact that author Sarah Natale has shown genuine interest in my students' learning. She has been a guest reader for chapter 3 and has consistently participated in our book studies via Google Slides & Flipgrid. I highly suggest teachers consider using The Kiss of Death in their classrooms for many reasons (this just being a major bonus!).
December 5, 2021
I love this book! Sarah truly captures so much emotion in this time period of uncertainty, and the characters are so well developed throughout the story. I couldn't put it down and read it in one night!
Profile Image for Amanda.
1,519 reviews22 followers
May 23, 2018
I received a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

Considering that the author wrote this in high school, it's a highly impressive read. It has its flaws, and at some points the lack of experience shows, but that's hardly a bad thing at this point in a writer's career. There is a great deal of potential and I look forward to reading more from Sarah Natale.
1 review
May 31, 2020
In the context of our current world, this book should be a recommended read for the Junior High / High School age group. This is a relevant story of a young girl's survival during the 14th century Black Death pandemic. Her experiences provide an interesting historical contrast for today's young people living with the social restrains caused by COVID-19. A very good book written by a young author for a young audience.
July 21, 2020
I recently read "Kiss of Death" by Sarah Natale and loved it! She writes beautifully, simply and with great knowledge of the subject matter and time period, especially for someone so young (high school!). The story held my attention for the entire read and was very ironic (given the year it was written by Ms. Natale) considering the pandemic our World currently faces! This story seems to leave an opening for a sequel (I hope there will be one!) and I hope to read many more books by this author!
I highly recommend to anyone especially one who enjoys history and romance and a strong heroine; a short, easy book to read but one that will "hold your attention" from start to finish!
1 review
August 25, 2019
The storyline is captivating and unpredictable.
The author did not skimp on her research.
Looking forward for her next Goodread
1 review
June 10, 2020
Loved this book! The characters were so relatable. Great Historical Fiction! Short, quick read which is refreshing. But don’t let that fool you- the story is full of valuable information and shows great writing. With all that our students are going through with the Covid-19 Pandemic, there were many correlation and connections that one could make. Who would have thought we’d be able to connect so personally to the story. Nicely written!
Profile Image for Kathy.
7 reviews1 follower
February 26, 2019
I absolutely loved, "The Kiss of Death." It was suspenseful, charming and played on my heartstrings. The story pulled me in and I really felt for the characters. It is a perfect book to read aloud to our sixth graders when they are studying the period of the Black Plague. Beautifully written.
1 review
May 20, 2019
While reading her novel to my class, students were engaged in the story and couldn't wait to hear what would happen next with Elizabeth. It kept them analyzing and critically thinking about the story in a way that tied in History perfectly. The ending left everyone with questions and had students wanting more! They are anticipating what could happen next!
Profile Image for Cheyanne Murray.
Author 1 book14 followers
June 15, 2016
Sarah Natale sent me her book for free in exchange for an honest review, so I can completely promise you what you are about to read is my honest thoughts.

The Kiss of Death is a 48 page educational book which follows a well off girl in the time of the bubonic plague. Through Elizabeth, readers will learn about what it was like living through the plague, and also what it was like living in these times before it.

As the plague gets worse, Elizabeth is locked up in a plague house with her family. She knows she must do what she can to escape in order to survive, and to get back to the boy she loves.

I rated this 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, because although I though this would be a great read for schools, I personally though it could use some more emotional descriptions. There was a lot of telling, but not enough showing. I would have liked to feel more in depth what Elizabeth was feeling; particularly with certain deaths. It was still a good book, though, which is why I only left out that one star.

There is religious mention in this book, but in all honesty, it is necessary. The church played a massive part in the lives of people in medieval times. the church even told people what food they could eat and when they could eat it; so I really don't think you can teach about medieval times without mentioning the church. Even so, I think Sarah Natale was able to weave it into the story in a way that non religious or people of a different religion should be able to read without feeling uncomfortable. I personally am not religious, and found it fine.

Anyways, I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about both the plague and medieval times. I particularly recommend this as a potential read to teachers or homeschooling parents. There are even brainstorming questions at the back.

Before I go, I just have to say Sarah Natale is young, this was her debut book, and it was surprisingly good. Sarah is for sure an author to keep an eye on because she might just end up as the next big author.
2 reviews1 follower
December 28, 2020
Sarah Natale tells a compelling and interesting story set in a period of human history where we seldom see character driven plots. I look forward to seeing what happens next, and would recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction or romance.
Profile Image for Diana.
211 reviews16 followers
January 12, 2017
A well researched novella full of pain, suffering and love. Well done!
1 review
September 20, 2020
What a delight to read The Kiss of Death. I couldn’t put it down until I finished it. After running across several sentences that touched me strongly, I wish I would have made note of them but I wanted to just concentrate on the storyline. I was affected emotionally by Sara’s literary words, thoughts, and expressions in this book. I focus on those three things while reading. I felt they were beyond her years. Amazed considering her age at the time and being her first book also. Applause, applause! I appreciated the knowledge from Sara’s research from an era I wasn’t familiar with; the bubonic plague pandemic. Very well written and easy to read. Hoping she will have a follow up on this book; The Kiss of Death. Looking forward to a novel sequence. Great job, Sara.

1 review
April 5, 2020
The story was captivating. I found myself transfixed into the medieval era, anxiously awaiting what would come next. My heart felt for Elizabeth who upon devastating circumstances pursued her desires with divine strength. I was so sad at the story’s end and wanted the book to last longer. I can’t wait to see what happens in the sequel. Hurry and tell us. Your fans are waiting to hear!

The portrayal of Elizabeth’s gifts of persistence, strength and faith gave the reader hope to go on in the face of tragedy all around. I found the scene so intense and heartbreaking when she left her family, especially her mom and dad, with utmost courage to take her little sister and flee her boarded up plague house. I cannot imagine the pain she felt, deserting her family and knowing their presumed fate. She was profoundly transformed by her determination to listen to her mother and heed her advice. This shows the unconditional love, the bond and protectiveness of a mother and her children, to keep them safe and to love them forever in the midst of incredible odds. To give of yourself and to endure whatever you may be going through is the promise of a better tomorrow. This is something we can all learn from especially in this day and age.

This real life story shows you how important it is to get back to basics, the simplicity to be real, love those you care about endlessly and always be the one to forgive. Life is a gift, treasure it!
10 reviews
September 1, 2019
This book isn't just about death. It's about Elizabeth overcoming the struggles of a rapid growing illness that is ravishing London. She wants to find her love, Matthias, but overall she wants to help those in need. She's very lucky in her travels and through every Black Plague victim she comes a crossed, it makes me love her more and more. Elizabeth is determined to beat out the Plague. But now it's your turn to find out. Will she find Matthias and live happily ever after? Or will she succumb to this illness that has ravished her home?

*Possible Spoilers*
I read this book a long time ago in high school when it was first created by my good friend. Sarah and I took a creative writing class together and one of the assignments was to write a historical fiction. Sarah, obviously, chose the Black Plague. I read the draft when my family and I were driving up to Michigan. I was hooked from the very beginning. I loved Elizabeth's story so much and didn't think there would be a twist ending. Oh boy was I wrong. I wanted to throw the pages out the window because I was caught by surprise, but I still loved it.

I couldn't recommend this book anymore then I already am. Read it. You won't be sorry. It may be short, but it has so much depth that it doesn't feel like only 62 pages.
Profile Image for Carol.
22 reviews
November 13, 2019
Considering this book was written as part of a high school English assignment, it's an amazing result. The author did her research, staying faithful to the history but also creating a compelling character whose feelings and human bonds are ones we can fully relate to. What I admire most is the ending. I was supposed to see it coming, I guess (given the title) but it caught me off guard...and sort of swept me off my feet. I don't want to completely spoil the ending, but I was very much in the moment in the best way. A lovely, haunting scene. I actually used the book in my college-level course about "the writing life," because I wanted my students to see that getting published is an attainable goal. I hear there's a sequel to this novella. I look forward to it!
1 review1 follower
December 5, 2021
I thoroughly enjoyed Sarah Natale's book, "The Kiss of Death". Not being an avid student of history my preferred approach to consume the subject is to read books that are fiction based on fact. James A. Michener is one of my favorites because his character development and the depth of stories holds the reader's interest so well.

In her unique fashion, Ms. Natale has told a story that really holds the reader's attention while providing fascinating facts about the 14th century plague. And, the theme just so happens to be all the more poignant given our current struggles with the SARS-COV-2 pandemic. I recommend this book to anyone interested in history, romance and mankind's ability to ultimately triumph over extraordinary challenges on a global scale.
1 review
November 7, 2020
Short, but packs a big punch of both history and emotion. Especially in the midst of our own modern pandemic, it is really interesting to read the struggles and perspectives of young people experiencing the Black Death. While the story is set much different time period than now (thank goodness), the author does a good job of making the characters understandable and relatable. It is amazing how deeply I was moved by the fates of the main characters in such a small number of pages. I would definitely be interested in reading a sequel (or sequels) to this novella, as well as other books by Natale!
1 review
December 14, 2021
The Kiss of Death had its genesis in my Creative Writing class when Sarah was my student several years ago. The best thing I could do for Sarah was to get out of her way; she is a brilliant writer and a dedicated researcher!
When she told me of her idea for the story, I encouraged her to go for it. She conducted meticulous research and crafted a story that far surpassed efforts by her peers. In fact, she had no peers in her class. I strongly encourage all readers to experience the richness of Sarah's writing and her scholarly application of the history.

Jerald Thiel - Teacher of English (Retired)
1 review
August 6, 2019
This book is a period piece taking place in the 14th century, as seen through the eyes of a young woman of stature. The daily norms are much different from our current norms; the tragic jolt of one's faith and a love so sweet and unique as to cause us to wonder about time, existence and our struggle in life. The author leaves us questioning what really happened to Elizabeth and was Mathias able to reach his love and start a new life together. This ending leaves the reader wanting more - which I hope the author will be giving us.
- reader: P. George
July 21, 2020
I recently read "Kiss of Death" by Sarah Natale and loved it! The Author writes beautifully, simply and with great knowledge of the subject matter, especially for someone so young. The story held my attention for the entire read and was very ironic (in the year written by Sarah Natale) considering the pandemic our World currently faces! This story is historical and loving, frightening in many ways and thought provoking as well. The story also seems to leave an opening for a sequel (I hope to see one) and I hope to read many more books by this young author.
1 review
November 28, 2020
This book was so interesting & enjoyable on many levels.
The fictional story which took place in the actual time period in history of the black plague.

The Author's research of the black plague served as a underlying non-fictional landscape
for the beautiful fictional story brought to the forefront of this book.

The story was so captavating that the reader will want to finish the book in one sitting!

1 review
February 5, 2021
Santa brought this book for me and I read it the next day. The irony, that I would choose this read in 2020...
I liked this book and yes, you can tell Sarah did her research! I, too, would have loved a longer story, including more history between the two lovebirds. That really is the only "negative" I have, here.

I look forward to reading more from Sarah Natale in the future!
January 1, 2022
I was introduced to this book by a friend, and enjoyed it so thoroughly that I was compelled to write a review. The author's command of the genre and historical time frame is exceptional. I was engaged with the characters from the very beginning and pulled into the story throughout the book. It's amazing this is the first book from this author, and I can't wait to see what they do next!!
18 reviews
December 8, 2022
This is such a good book. The author clearly did research to make sure the time period was accurate. I would have loved for it to be longer, but for a first book this was so well written and beautiful.
August 16, 2019
Beautifully written love story. But the open ending, like did she die? Did she somehow survive? Who knows?! But it’s sooo dramatic!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 48 reviews

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