Son of Death

Andrew McDonald

Son of Death
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Son of Death

Andrew McDonald

Sod’s parents have been keeping something from him. Just a minor thing, really, about what they do. The thing is, they are grim reapers. Oh yes, and Sod’s a grim reaper, too. Grim reaping is the family business, and Sod’s name stands for Son of DEATH. But other than that, his family is completely normal.

Forget everything you know about grim reapers. These days they aren’t dark, hooded figures with scythes. Grim reapers are just like you and me. They hold down normal jobs, they could live next door to you, and their scythes look just like mobile phones. When Sod fails to reap properly one day, things go terribly awry, with deadly serious consequences. It’s up to Sod and his new goth friend, Graveyard Girl, to work out how to put things right again.


This novel for tweens and up strikes me as clever in several ways. First of all, it openly tells us what it’s about – death – because as all good children’s authors know there’s no pulling the wool over the eyes of their readership, so why bother trying? Children of this age often seek out morbid topics in fiction and well-handled novels like this can be cathartic.

That said, death is not its sole pre-occupation. The story, about a young teen who discovers that he is descended from grim reapers and bound by blood to be one himself, involves identity (individual vs. family), friendship, morality, and the first hint of romance. Yet it does all of this with a great deal of comic-book humour, which offsets the grim subject matter perfectly but never restricts the story from its more thoughtful, philosophical roots. Most importantly, the plot is fun and full of twists – some you might see coming, others you probably won’t – and Sod (Son of Death) is a very likeable companion for the duration.

Highly recommended for 10-13-year-olds who like zombies, laughs and a mystery to solve.

Emily Gale is the Online Children’s Specialist, and a Children’s & YA author the rest of the time.

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