Review: Masters of Death by Olivie Blake

by Cathy
Published: Last Updated on
Blog post image for a book review of Masters of Death by Olivie Blake. The book cover is shown on a purple background.

This book surprised me so much! I didn’t like one of the author’s other books but Masters of Death is one of my favourite books this year!

The Summary

Viola Marek is a struggling real estate agent, and a vampire. But her biggest problem currently is that the house she needs to sell is haunted. The ghost haunting the house has been murdered, and until he can solve the mystery of how he died, he refuses to move on.

Fox D’Mora is a medium, and though is also most-definitely a shameless fraud, he isn’t entirely without his uses—seeing as he’s actually the godson of Death.

When Viola seeks out Fox to help her with her ghost-infested mansion, he becomes inextricably involved in a quest that neither he nor Vi expects (or wants). But with the help of an unruly poltergeist, a demonic personal trainer, a sharp-voiced angel, a love-stricken reaper, and a few high-functioning creatures, Vi and Fox soon discover the difference between a mysterious lost love and an annoying dead body isn’t nearly as distinct as they thought.

My Review

This book really surprised me! I recently DNFed another of Olivie Blake’s books, The Atlas Six, after finding that it didn’t live up to the hype. I was pretty reluctant to start of Masters of Death, expecting the same sort of vibe as Blake’s other book. But I was blown away by the characters, the plot and the writing.

Masters of Death introduces us to Viola, a vampire-slash-real-estate-agent, who has taken over responsibility for selling a house that is being haunted by its most-recent occupant, Tom. Millionaire Tom is the latest in his family tree to be murdered but he doesn’t know who did it or why. Viola enlists Death’s godson, Fox, to help her de-haunt Tom’s house by figuring out what happened to Tom so that he can move on.

There are multiple plotlines running simultaneously throughout Masters of Death and one revolves around a game played by immortals.

There is a game that the immortals play. It is played around tables that open at dusk, and close at dawn. The stakes are impossibly high, and yet laughably low. There is only one secret: The more you have to lose, the harder it is to win. There is only one rule: Don’t lose.

The game is illuded to from the beginning of the book, a mysterious game that immortals play against Death with only one explicit rule: don’t lose. For me, a big part of the intrigue and allure of Masters of Death came from the game – a game that’s described, explained and played by the characters in the book but is never named or compared to any games that we might know. I enjoyed the interlude chapters where the game was mentioned – they gave you a little bit more information each time which felt like a nudge from the author in helping you figure out the game for yourself.

These chapters were the most lyrical and the most philosophical. Blake drops some interesting ideas into these chapters that make you think about morality and mortality. I thought these chapters were where Blake showed off her writing prowess – they give me dark academia vibes without the overdramaticness that sometimes appears in the genre. These chapters were a refreshing pause as interludes between the other more dramatic plotlines in the book.

Another plotline focuses on real-estate agent and vampire, Viola, and ghost, Tom. Tom was mysteriously murdered but doesn’t know who did it or why. Viola is brought in to help sell Tom’s mansion but is thwarted at every turn by Tom, who can’t move on. Viola and Isis – a demon she knows from her supernatural support group – enlist the help of Fox – Death’s godson – to figure out what happened to Tom.

I liked this storyline a lot because I liked the characters a lot. Tom, Viola, Isis, Fox and all the other characters involved had a dry sense of humour and there was plenty of back-and-forth quick-witted banter and sarcastic comments. I definitely chuckled to myself out loud while reading some of the interactions. These characters showed a depth and realness that I felt was lacking in The Atlas Six. I felt like I actually got to know each of the characters in Masters of Death, which then made me enjoy the book much more.

I particularly enjoyed Tom and Viola’s friendship-turned-quite-lovestory plotline. Getting to know the two characters as individuals early on in the book and seeing them interact so often made their story feel authentic and believable. It was a charming love story that wiggled its way into my heart. Tom and Viola were a great pair for Blake to show off her writing skills again – their witty banter and amusing interactions proved that Blake can write entertaining characters.

The third main storyline follows Fox’s love affair with Brandt (son of Odin) that spans centuries. The narrative moves between the present day and the beginning of their love affair two hundred years ago. Fox and Brandt’s love story is complicated, to say the least, and their happily ever after isn’t easily won. Blake wrote these two characters in such a sympathetic way that I was cheering for both of them throughout the story. The final chapters where Fox plays the game convinced me that Olivie Blake writes mature and multifaceted characters.

In Masters of Death, Blake really surprised me as an author and writer. This book gave her the change to flex her writing muscles and show readers what she can do. The level of wittiness, maturity and sensitvity that she wrote each of these characters and plotlines with was honestly such a surprise. I thoroughly enjoyed Masters of Death and will 100% be going back to re-read and see if I can figure out the questions I still had at the end of the book. Amazon Goodreads

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