Cover Image: The Life of Death

The Life of Death

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Daringly original, The Life Of Death by Lucy Booth casts the bad guy as the protagonist. Everything on paper would suggest Death isn't at all likable. Her story not worth following. However, Booth writes her with rapt attention to minute details. Such is the true nature of Death revealed, allowing us to see the meticulous care with which she has executed her job, ushering departing souls warmly and safely into the black. 

Even more, it does not take long for the story to unleash the plot when Death falls in love. Exploring the capability that the protagonist can and does have armloads and armloads of affection and emotions further the reader's investment. As Death looks upon the infinity of her immortality, the idea no longer satiates her. She requests the attention of Him, the Devil, and in so doing, is thrust into a wicked game. 

For centuries past, she has done nothing but usher departing souls from the mortal coil, their demise already upon them. Now, under the cunning hand of the Devil, she must become the agent of their deaths. Five humans, all of the Devil's choice, and she can win her soul back from him and claim the life that was taken from her prematurely. 

Even as the story divulges each departure instigated at Death's hand, the loving care of honoring the life of the victim glows. Things progress from relatively mild to downright horrific. There are times when the otherwise poetic writing becomes tedious, and the pace of reading turns a tad slow. These moments are few but hinder the otherwise lyrical path this novel traverses. 

The Life Of Death is a startling story, breathtakingly written. It is a chilling love story that embraces a frightening subject. Death becomes approachable; it becomes beautiful. 

Perhaps the saddest part of this story is that the author, Lucy Booth, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. She passed away in 2016, with the wish for this novel to be published posthumously. Every word confronts the impending timeline Lucy was facing. It appears she met it with grace, and dared to imagine an afterlife without pain, filled with beauty and life.
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“I am the woman you most want to see in those final seconds you live on this earth. I have been wives, daughters, best friends. I have been a beloved nurse, a primary school teacher. Your first love. I am the ultimate mother.

I am Death.”

Death is not the hooded figure you’ve heard about in stories. Death does not lurk in the shadows with a sadistic twinkle in it’s hollow skull, awaiting bloodshed and cruelty. Death does not take a life out of selfishness or evil. Death is a woman, and she only comes when she is called. She comes to those who are reaching their life’s end, to be a guide into their afterlife, wherever that may be. And for the last 500 years, Lizzie has been Death. She has been a familiar and loving face to those who are nearing their end, and she takes pride in helping others. But when Lizzie comes across a man named Tom, she is stricken with a love she never thought she’d have. Desperate to end her time as Death and to be able to have a life with Tom, He agrees to release her from her contract on one condition: she must kill five people of His choosing.

“In 1590, I sold my soul to the Devil.”

After being accused of witchcraft, Elizabeth Murray is sentenced to be burnt at the stake. But as she awaits her impending doom in the dungeons, she is visited by Him – the Devil. He comes to her with an offer. He promises her, in exchange for her soul and complete ownership over her, she can “live” as Death. Naturally, she makes the deal. And so, for 500 years, Lizzie lives as Death. Constantly moving around the world, guiding souls across the veil between the living and the dead. She only comes when needed, as a means of comfort to the soul that is dying to ensure they go in peace and happiness. She does not take the lives she guides into Death, she only arrives as a servant in the circle of life.

“Lives are given to me – I never take them. Never.”

This depiction of Death always takes the form of a woman, but her face changes to match the wants of the person dying. Whether someone wants to see their mother, sister, daughter, or aunt, Death becomes them. She is given the memories of the woman she becomes, and speaks with the person as they begin to enter the afterlife. But what is really interesting, is that some people are able to actually see Death for who she is, and keep her at arms length. Of course when this happens, it is utterly depressing to witness because those people go into a totally hysteria and shock as they realize what is happening to them. But Death has a job to do, and she does it well. She is a woman of a billion faces.

“This is no place for a woman, I’ve heard it said.

I’ve never seen a place a woman was more needed.”

This is honestly one of the coolest and most unique stories I have ever come across. The outlook on death that this author possessed was truly special. She gave death a gentle and feminine quality that makes you feel comfortable with its presence. It is delicate and sweet, rather than a cold and fearful entity that we all seem to shrink away from. This author gives the reader an intimate introduction to an idea of death that almost brings peace and quiet. It is sensitive, caring, heart-achingly beautiful and truly one of a kind.

It is so seldom that a book can reach into my soul with such ferocity and gentleness.

But this book did that.

It crushed me.

This entire story feels like a poem written just for me. Like the author knew I would need this, and I am confident that I am not the only person who will feel this. The Life of Death is a love song, a sonnet. A message in a bottle that has traveled through storms of anger and eerie calm, only to wash up at the feet of its desired recipient. The writing is so descriptive and perfect. I was lost in this story, feeling waves upon waves of emotions for Lizzie and these fleeting characters.

It’s breathtaking.

But as soon as I began to see that this story was one of beauty and acceptance of death, the author drove a knife into my heart and cut the ties on the dam that was holding my tears in. DEVASTATION. Unending, literal, soul-crushing, weep-worthy devastation. And all I can say is, why? WHY?! Why did you fill me up with so much love and assurance, and then just cut me at the knees and leave me in a pool of my own despair?? Couldn’t we just let this be a story of happiness and good fortune?

Of course we couldn’t, this is the story of Death, after all. And in all reality, this isn’t the bright and happy story that I am making it out to be. It is a dark and gritty tale once Lizzie begins killing the people that He decides upon. Because each of these people are innocents. They aren’t supposed to die, but they must in order for Lizzie to be released from her contract with the Devil. And the worst part? Lizzie has to use other people to do the killings. So not only is she taking the lives that the Devil tells her to take, but she is also forever altering the lives of those she takes control of to do the deed.

This isn’t a fluffy tale.

It’s a tale about Death.

But even so, I can’t help but hold it close to my heart as a book that I will forever think fondly of. It’s just beautiful, in all of its depressing and dark glory. I highly recommend it to any reader that is looking for something truly different from the normal stories currently out there. It will give you a whole new outlook on death, and honestly, its for the best.

“Fade to black.”
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Thanks NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. The opinions expressed are my own.

The story kept my attention and had some twists and turns. Wasn't overly dark and twisted but enough to keep me intrigued. I'll look for this author's work again.
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I really enjoyed this book, the characters were well developed.  It had an interesting plot. I would be interested in reading more
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''I am there when you are born. When you cross the road. When the live wire frays in a Bakelite plug. I am there in the hospital canteen, by the frozen pond, in the carbon monoxide fug of a terraced living room. I am waiting, with open arms and solace. I am Death.''

Scotland, 1567. People have gathered in the market square to watch the witches burn. Young Elizabeth is waiting for her turn, chained in the dungeon when a strange visitor arrives with promises of a painless death and a rebirth in the form of a rather formidable figure. Death. Lizzy becomes Little D, passing through the ages, leading souls to their final journey. Until her heart starts beating and she strikes a deal with the Devil. But how can anyone win in the macabre chess game with humans as pawns?

‘’I have lived the lives of more souls than I can count.’’

The Devil and Death, the two ‘’Ds’’ that fascinate and terrify us all (and the ones who claim otherwise are idiots and liars....) become one. Lizzy becomes the guardian of the final journey, a presence to be feared, an entity that brings peace through agony. But the Devil needs souls that are unstained, innocent. Parents, youths. Children. Five people are needed. Five deaths in order for Lizzy to be free to live and love. Does one mad whim, a passing fancy, justify five deaths? Mothers, fathers, daughters and sons? Surely not. Booth brilliantly depicts the selfishness that is deeply rooted in our souls. Immortal or not.

Booth creates a story the like of which I’ve never seen before. With elements that may remind us ofThe Master & Margarita and Melmoth, we are invited to the dark journey of a soul that wants to live. Following an astonishing Introduction, Booth takes us to the witch trials. I have read a plethora of pyre scenes. Few were as harrowing as the ones included in this novel. She presents an interesting version of how the Devil chooses certain people to do his bidding.

‘’Fade to black.’’

Lizzy is a sympathetic, complex character. Her ordeal will move your heart but for me, the magnetism of the novel lies in the character of the Devil. He is a fascinating figure. I don’t know what words to use to avoid sounding weirder than usual but he is the perfect, alluring villain and extremely realistic. I could readily believe that this was the Devil speaking and this is what makes the novel truly unique. There is a striking scene where the Devil is standing at the foot of a stone cross in the centre of the town. If you read the novel, this image will not leave you anytime soon. There is also a haunting description of D-Day and the moments before each death are terrifying and deeply moving.

The language is quite lyrical, almost theatrical to the point where it seems exaggerated. However, it is definitely appropriate given the premise. The narration is embellished with elegant humor and accurate observations throughout. I dare say the Devil definitely knows what he’s talking about. People are full of stupid desicions, really. What mother would let a seven-year-old girl alone, wandering in the shops? I mean, are you serious? You should be charged and put to trial and the child should be taken from you immediately! This is the definition of a bad mother. Booth demonstrates that our foolishness has dire consequences.

Be warned, though. It goes without saying that certain parts of the novel require a strong stomach. With such themes, it couldn’t have been otherwise. The last 30 pages are excruciating. I can’t find the proper adjectives to describe them.

 I grieve for Lucy Booth. Death took a young woman and a brilliant writer that could have given us treasures. Death stroke an awful deal...

‘’When you’re alive, when all this has finished, the only certainty in your life will be death.’’

Many thanks to Unbound Digital and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Elizabeth Murray has been condemned to burn at the stake. As she waits to die, she is visited by a strange man who offers her a deal that will save her life: she must give up her soul but will live forever. But in that life, Elizabeth will become Death, visiting the dying at their point of passing and encouraging them to cross the threshold between the worlds, Fir five hundred years, Elizabeth undertakes these duties until the unthinkable happens and she, Death, falls in love. 

Determined to escape the role she has promised to fulfil for eternity, Elizabeth appeals to the stranger who saved her, and he agrees to release her from her duties on one condition: Elizabeth must give him five lives which she must take herself. And each will be more difficult and painful than the last...

I found this book well written and very moving, particularly in how Elizabeth chose to appear at each deathbed embodying the person that the dying loved most. It's also thought provoking, and stirs many questions. What would you do for love? And in a deal with the devil, can anybody win?

NOTE: I was provided with a free ARC copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.
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Enjoyed this book. Kept me interested all the way through. Would recommend to a fellow reader.  Love the cover.
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A good supernatural book that makes you think about death, life, and what each is worth to you, I really loved the plot but wish some of the characters were more developed
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An interesting storyline but a bit difficult to engage with the main protagonist. I found the jump in time of 400 years didn't give the reader enough time to buy into the desire she felt to become human again. That said, it was an enjoyable read.

Thanks for allowing me to review this book
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I saw the ending to this one coming, but it didn't make it suck any less. (I mean the ending, not the book itself. It was rather good). 

Our main character, Lizzie, trades her soul to the Devil to keep from dying when she is burned at the stake for a witch. In exchange for his help, she works with Him to ease peoples' transitions into death. To do this, she essentially turns into the person they love most, and comforts them until they cross over. The problem is that Lizzie falls in love and wants to return to Earth to be with him. In order to do this she makes a deal with the Devil. 

Of course, being the Devil, there's a twist to his game. I won't go into any more detail than that because it would ruin the book, but it made me mad. I knew it was going to happen that way, but I didn't like it. I was also icked out by the kidnapping/near murder of a child. I have been listening to way too many true crime podcasts lately, and it bothered me a lot. I almost didn't finish the book because I just couldn't handle that. I understand why it was written, because each of the deaths that Lizzie has to accomplish get harder and more thought provoking than the last, but it was tough. 

While reading this I was reminded a bit of my English classes in college when we were reading literature from the first half of American history. Between the imagery of the Devil, and Death, along with the whole "be careful what you wish for" lesson that the book gives, it had a ton of old school English vibes, which I actually enjoyed. 

All in all this was a quick read that made me think about things I might not necessarily have wanted to. It begs the question, how far would you go to get what you wanted?
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This book was one that I read a second time. I could not find a way to put it down. Even the second time and even though I knew what was going to happen, I still wanted to read it it all over again. The author does a great job with writing so eloquently and to the point. Nothing is kept out and you, the reader, will feel as though you are a part of this novel and time period. I love this book and hope that I have done it justice without giving the story away. The blurb will tell you what it is about, and I will tell you it is worth reading and that you will want to read it again and again.

Thank you netgalley and to the publisher/author for allowing me to read this novel in exchange for my honest review.
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One of my new favorite books! This author has such a way with words the pages flew by in no time! I can’t wait to see the next work by this author! This was such a joy to read!
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Realy well written! 
Big shock and twist! Had me hooked and wanting to find out more! 
Thoroughly enjoyed and will be recommending!!
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I was not a big fan of this novel.. From the description I thought it would be a more thrilling/ horror themed. But it turned out to be more of odd romantic book. The main character Lizzy or Lil D personifies death as she helps people dying pass happily into the after life. This is the deal she made with the devil but after 400 something odd years she grows tired of doing this and tries to free herself from the deal in order to be a normal person and find love. In the order Lil D does not win because how could you ever when making a deal with the devil. Overall, the storyline was not very amusing to me, it didn't have anything that peaked my interest to keep me reading.
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I came in without knowing much about she book. What caught my eye was the title and premise. Definitely ended up enjoying the book very much. 

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review*.
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I didn't know what to expect from this book but I highly enjoyed it and loved Lucy as a character, one I will certainly recommend to others.
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Booth’s posthumous novel The Life of Death is really a treasure to behold.  It is poetic in nature and reminds me of one of my favourite books ‘ The Book Thief’.

The story opens up in the 1400’s with a woman accused of being a witch and the pack she makes for eternal life which brings us to the meat of the story.  We then follow ‘D’ with her new mission in life or death that she is to help people pass to the next when coming to death.  She then falls in love and wants to go back to being mortal but this comes at a price.

The story moves at a very well pace within its philosophical narrative and is told with such emotions that it is hard not to be touched by the story and the exploits of “D” as she tries to accomplish the task at hand.  There is some thought provoking passages that makes one think of death differently and have to say that this is a treat and is definitely a recommended read.

Overall, this is a strong book with a strong narrative, and I have been truly touched by the novel.  Although the end is probably predictable for a few long-term readers, this does not take over the overall feeling of a great novel.  This is strongly recommended and although I want to write more, I really think this is one of those books that needs to be experienced first hand without much in the way of spoilers.  One of the best books I have read in a long time.  Emotional, touching, thought provoking and sadly the last book from this truly inspirational author that sadly were taking much too soon.
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What a fantastic book. Loved the concept, had no idea where it was going to take me, and when it did, woah. I was not expecting that.
Very clever. Really well written, and I’ll definitely recommend.
Thank you for letting me read and review.
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Wow, wow, wow. From beginning to end, Lucy Booth takes the reader on one of the most gut wrenching, raw, and emotional looks at life and death that will come out of literature in the 21st century. Writing from the perspective of Death is such a hit or miss, but Booth absolutely hit it full on and didn’t once back down. It’s easy to get swept up in Elizabeth’s world as she navigates the journey from mortal to immortal to wanting to be mortal again, and I was with her from the get go. This novel isn’t for the faint of heart, so keep that in mind. If you’re squeamish or don’t like the thought of death, then this is definitely not a book that will be up your alley. But if you’re a fellow deathling looking for answers for your own mortality, this novel is perfect and just for you. Highly recommend. One of the best new releases I’ve read this year.
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Great read. The author wrote a story that was interesting and moved at a pace that kept me engaged. The characters were easy to invest in.
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