Buffy fans will go wild!
SHE WAS TARA ON BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.
Now she’s the author of Ace’s hottest new series— killer novels featuring Calliope Reaper-Jones, who doesn’t want to be daddy’s little girl anymore...
View our feature on Amber Benson’s Death's Daughter.Calliope Reaper-Jones so just wanted a normal life: buying designer shoes on sale, dating guys from Craig’s List, web-surfing for organic dim-sum for her boss...
But when her father—who happens to be Death himself—is kidnapped, and the Devil’s Protege embarks on a hostile takeover of the family business, Death, Inc., Callie returns home to assume the CEO mantle— only to discover she must complete three nearly impossible tasks in the realm of the afterlife first.
About the Author
AMBER BENSON co-created, co-wrote, and directed the animated supernatural web-series Ghosts of Albion with Christopher Golden, followed by a series of novels including Witchery and Accursed, and the novella Astray. Benson and Golden also co-authored the novella The Seven Whistlers. As an actress, she has appeared in dozens of roles in feature films, TV movies, and television series, including the fan favorite role of Tara Maclay on three seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Benson wrote, produced, and directed the feature films Chance and Lovers, Liars, and Lunatics.
Read an Excerpt
Table of Contents
NICE DOGGIE . . .
Cerberus turned its Snarly head, and the giant, jaundiced eye unblinkingly trained itself on my frozen form. The dog’s eye narrowed, and I knew without anyone saying anything out loud that I was only one slo-mo minute from getting digested.
The other two heads stopped their obsessive licking and raised themselves in line with Snarly head. They didn’t look nearly as mean as Snarly, but as I watched, something much worse began to register in their eyes: excitement. The big hellhound’s tail started thumping more quickly against the gate.
Then, without warning, Snarly head swooped forward, teeth bared, giant eyeball trained in one direction . . . mine. Frozen in shock, I could do nothing but stare as Cerberus, the guardian of the North Gate to Hell, prepared to make me its lunch . . .
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
An Ace Book / published by arrangement with Benson Entertainment, Inc.
PRINTING HISTORY Ace mass-market edition / March 2009
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eISBN : 978-1-101-01451-6
ACE Ace Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
For the two special men in my life:
There are three people integral to the creation of this book: my awesome literary manager, Brendan Deneen; my equally fantastic editor, Ginjer Buchanan; and the man who started it all, my frequent collaborator and good friend Christopher Golden. Without their encouragement and support, Calliope Reaper-Jones would never have seen the light of day. I also want to send a shout-out to the singersongwriter Angela Correa, whose album Correatown furnished the sound track for the writing of this book.
My name is Calliope Reaper-Jones, and I think I’m losing my mind.
Okay, maybe I was being a touch melodramatic. I wasn’t completely losing my mind, but things were definitely getting a little screwy in my neck of the woods.
It was like the universe couldn’t help itself. It had to mess with you every once in a while—you know, just to make sure you were paying attention. I guess it reasoned that since we were all so busy being anal little worker ants, its job was to step in occasionally and shatter whatever carefully constructed illusions of normalcy we had created for ourselves.
Just to shake things up a little . . . for our sakes, of course.
Because, unlike us, the universe knew that illusions were just that: illusionary—and they could be destroyed with one well-placed roundhouse kick.
my kick in the pants came last Saturday: the day of my most recent blind date.
My next-door neighbor, Patience, had decided she was sick and tired of my sad ass feeling all sorry for itself—her words, not mine, but the sentiment was definitely correct. I mean, I hadn’t had a real date in, well . . . It was so pathetic an expanse of time that I didn’t even want to talk about it.
You see, my not-so “dream job” job had totally precluded me from having any kind of social life. Period. I spent all week working my butt off, so that when Saturday finally did roll around, I was too dead to the world to enjoy it. Plus which, my few pathetic attempts to “hook up” through craigslist were just that—pathetic.
I usually ended up in zombie mode until Sunday when—somehow mildly recharged—I’d get up, do my laundry, run a few necessary errands, then meet some girlfriends at whatever new “happening” breakfast place they’d decided we were going to have brunch at that weekend. They never bothered asking for my foodie opinion, just e-mailed me the address—for reference only, since I wouldn’t know a “happening” place if it hit me over the head with a shovel and whispered into my ear: “I’m a hot spot!”
Anyway, that’s enough about my pathetic excuse for a social life. Let’s go back to the blind date, and the day everything in my life went to hell in a handbasket.
Said blind-date guy was one of Patience’s office mates at Brown, Stimple, and Brown, Esquire, a big law firm uptown. I wasn’t exactly sure what she did there, but she had a really big television hanging on her wall, so it must’ve been something very important and unbelievably exciting—not. The legal world was nothing if not nail-bitingly . . . tedious.
Anyway, the guy she’d decided was my soul mate worked in a different department, but since they had mutual friends, she said it would be as “easy as pie”—her words again—to get him to take me out on the town one Saturday night in the near future, ending my fantastically long dating dry spell—hurrah!
Well, it turns out the “near future” was only two days after she’d told me about the idea in the first place. There wasn’t even enough time to get freaked-out about the whole thing. All I could do was take my Friday lunch break at Saks, and pray there was something on the designer sale rack that fit.
Unfortunately, the one dress I fell in love with at first sight, a beautiful DKNY silk number that was marked down to a ridiculous forty-three bucks, was way too big. No matter how I tried to cinch the waist, it looked like I was wearing a mumu. Empty-handed, I went back to work feeling—for the first time in my life—slightly perturbed that I wasn’t twenty pounds heavier.
That night, I was stuck in the office until eight thirty collating four copies of my boss’s son’s book report, by which time all the stores were closed, or getting ready to close. I knew right then and there it was gonna be Saturday afternoon or nothing.
When I got home, I set my alarm for nine thirty, determined to get up, brush my teeth, and go find something slinky, sultry, and cheap to wear on the blind date. I had decided that even if the guy was a total dog—which he probably would be, with my luck—I was gonna look hot, and take somebody yummy home, even if it only turned out to be my old standby: Ben and Jerry.
That night, all tucked up in my little Battery Park City bedroom, I fell asleep with visions of department stores in my head, more excited about a Saturday than I’d been in a long, long time.
Had I known what the next day was going to have in store for me, I don’t think I would’ve slept a wink. Needless to say, I was completely clueless, so I slept like a baby . . . on Ambien.
the day did not even start well.
First, my alarm decided to not go off.
I’d set that sucker, checked it twice—I can be a bit OCD when I feel like it—and even made sure the alarm was set to buzzer rather than radio. I knew it was going to have to be one of those screaming “alarm only” mornings if I was going to make myself crawl out of bed at a quasireasonable hour, so I took, like, extra, extra precaution.
So, of course, no alarm meant no wakey-wakey on time. Which in plain English meant that when I finally did get up, it was one (!) in the afternoon.
The next thing I discovered was that all the water from every tap in my apartment was boiling hot. The scalding water made it almost impossible to brush my teeth, let alone take a shower or wash my hair, so now I was stuck stinking my way into what was supposed to be a brilliant Barney’s shopping-excursion day.
Weird, but not unheard of.
In fact, only six months earlier the entire building had been without water for two days, in which time I learned the true meaning of the term “Irish bath.” Take it from me, not the best way to make friends on the subway.
In retrospect, I guess I should have seen all the above weirdness as a sign. But at the time—and you have to believe me here—it did not seem like a big deal, definitely not strange enough to warrant an exorcism of the old homestead.
It wasn’t until I got to the front hall of my building that I realized I might very shortly be in the market for the phone number of the local Catholic church.
The monster was blocking the whole length of the entranceway to my building. His back was to me, his front facing the window-paneled door. (I guess so he could watch the traffic?) I say it was a he, but that was only a hypothesis. I just could not imagine any self-respecting female—monster or not—ever getting as pudgy as this thing was.
Strangely, I wasn’t frightened of the big guy, not even as I was getting my first glance of its tremendous bulk. I don’t know how to explain that other than to say that there was something about the creature that was . . . soothing.
At the time, I had no idea what kind of monster the thing was, but if I really think back on it, I’d have to guess it was probably, at least, part dragon. I mean, it had a long, scaly brown tail, huge brown haunches, and a row of blue triangular-shaped flaps of skin that ran the length of its back. So, it was either a medium-sized dragon, or a smallish dinosaur. Take your pick.
Luckily, it didn’t appear to notice my arrival—which I took as a good thing—but I played it safe by standing still as a statue on the bottom step of the stairwell, trying not even to breathe if I could help it. I was a lot of things, but super idiot wasn’t one of them. If the dragon/ monster thing wanted to sit in my front hall and watch the traffic go by out the window, like a dog, I wasn’t gonna be the dum-dum who disturbed it.
As quietly as I could, I backed my way up the front stairs until I hit the second-floor landing. Then I hightailed it up the next four flights until I was back in the relative safety of my own apartment.
After taking a moment to catch my breath, and have a shot of the Bailey’s I’d had in the back of my fridge since Christmas, I sat down on my couch and made my plans: I was gonna go next door, get a witness, and then go back downstairs. Patience would see the dragon/ monster and freak out, verifying the fact that I was not losing my mind.
There was just one slight hitch in my plans: She wasn’t home.
I thought about knocking on some random person’s door and trying to get them to go see the dragon/monster with me, but I was too scared it might have gotten bored in the interim and left—which would’ve made me look like a real nut job—so I put an ix-nay on that one.
After taking another calming sip of Bailey’s, I did the only rational thing a person could do in my situation: I called Animal Control.
“I’m making this complaint anonymously,” I said tersely. “There’s a big monster dog in my front entranceway, and I need you to send someone out to get it!”
The woman on the other end of the line kept asking me for my name, but I wasn’t stupid. If I gave it to her, then everyone would know I was the weirdo caller, and I might actually end up in Bellevue before my blind date could save me.
Finally, sick of her wheedling for more information, I blurted out the address and hung up. Then, I raced to my bathroom, which was home to the only window in my whole apartment that looked out onto the street in front of the building, and rolled up the shade, ready to watch and wait for the man with a big net to come and catch my monster.
I waited a long time. I called again. I ate some peanut butter out of the jar, returned to the bathroom, and waited some more.
At six thirty my buzzer sounded. I was sitting hunched over the lip of the bathtub, furiously filing my nails with a weather-beaten emery board. I quickly sat up straighter, so I had a better view out the window, and craned my neck to see who was at the front door.
I could just make out a man-sized shape on the stoop, and my heart began to beat inside my chest like a nasty little ball-peen hammer.
Damn, had Animal Control traced my phone number to my apartment?
It was only when I peered closer that I saw that the Animal Control guy was carrying a bouquet of . . . flowers?
Crap! It wasn’t Animal Control . . . it was my blind date! I had totally forgotten about him!
I had always thought of myself as a normal kinda gal, and normal gals—even if they saw a giant dragon/ monster in their front hall—did not let said monster interfere with a possible encounter with Mr. Right. I was gonna have to pull it together, stop being a wuss, and answer the door.
I ran to the living room and pushed the button on the intercom.
“Shit! I mean, hello . . . ?”
“Uhm, is this Calliope?” a dreamy voice said, sounding uncertain.
Maybe this date won’t be such a dud after all. The guy is definitely in possession of one helluva sexy voice.
I nodded, pleased with Patience, then realized that the guy wasn’t standing in front of me and probably thought I hadn’t heard him.
“Definitely! This is, uh, definitely Calliope Reaper-Jones!” I said in an overloud voice.
There was silence as the blind date digested what I’d said.
I couldn’t believe what an idiot I sounded like. He must’ve thought I was one of Patience’s slow friends. I don’t know what it is with the opposite sex, but I just can’t seem to keep an intelligent thought in my head when there’s an attractive man in my vicinity.
“I’m Brian. I work with your friend Patience,” he finally replied.
“That’s my neighbor,” I burbled back at him like a ninny.
Once again, radio silence from Brian, the blind date.
“Okay, yeah, your neighbor.” He cleared his throat. “Uhm, I don’t mean to be rude, but can I come up?”
“Come up?” I asked smartly.
“Yeah, uh, come up to your apartment?”
“I don’t know if you want to do that,” I said. “There’s a big, fat dragon/monster thing in the front hall.”
I clapped my hand over my mouth, almost jarring my front teeth loose in the process.
“Just kidding! Just kidding!” I screeched through my fingers. “Come on up!”
I buzzed him in immediately so I wouldn’t have to hear the sound of his shoes hitting the pavement at a terrified run.
“Crap!” I said out loud.
Then I caught sight of myself in the mirror that hung above the living room couch.
“Crap!” I said again, this time in reference to the fact that I looked like a homeless woman.
I couldn’t believe what a rat’s nest my hair was. I had on absolutely no makeup, and I was wearing an old, comfortable pair of Juicy sweats. Good for an intense shopping expedition. Not so good for a blind date.
Not knowing which mess to address first, I nearly sat down on the couch and gave up, but instead, my brain thankfully switched into autopilot and sent my body on a fact-finding mission to the bedroom.
Figuring, with the five flights of stairs Brian, the blind date, would have to traverse to get to my door, I’d have seven minutes to get myself together, or forever hold my peace.
Tripping my way across my messy bedroom floor, I threw open the closet door and grabbed the first thing that caught my eye: an adorable little jumpsuit I’d gotten on sale at Saks. It was made of organic white linen and felt just like butter on my skin.
Even though it had been kinda scrunched in the corner of the closet floor when I picked it up, it didn’t look that wrinkled in hand, so I gave it the sniff test, which it passed with flying colors—yea! I yanked off my sweats and slipped on the jumpsuit, zipping it up so quickly I caught a little piece of my boob in the zip’s teeth.
“Ahhhhh!” I screamed, trying not to rip skin, as I yanked the zipper back down. There was a huge red welt on my left breast, but I ignored it, this time being a little more careful with the zip as I reworked it back up into position.
Digging my way through the messy pile of dirty clothing that surrounded my bed, I found my favorite pair of cream kitten heels under a crumpled skirt and slipped them on, silently cursing myself for not having gotten a pedicure recently. The bright purple nail polish I’d loved when I’d had the girl put it on three weeks ago looked like toe fungus now, all old and chipped.
There was nothing I could do about the would-be fungus, so I ignored it, making a run for the bathroom to slap on as much makeup as I could in the space of sixty seconds. Makeup done, I grabbed an elastic band from one of the crappy cultured-marble vanity drawers and scraped my rat’s nest into what I hoped was some semblance of a ponytail, praying Brian, the blind-date guy, wouldn’t notice a few errant pieces of hair sticking out here and there.
The doorbell rang just as I was putting on the finishing touch, something I used only for special occasions: a spritz of Chanel No. 5.
And voilà! I was ready to rumble . . . or at least have dinner. As unbelievable as it seemed, I had gotten ready for an important date in less than seven minutes. A bloody miracle.
I threw open the door, hoping against hope that Brian, the blind date, looked like Clive Owen. I knew in my soul that with a voice like that, the body had to match.
“Is Brian here yet?”
Patience stood in my doorway, holding a thick manila folder in her hand. She looked amazing, as always, her thick blond hair hanging loose and curly around her angelic little face. She was like a miniature version of that doe-eyed French actress Julie Delpy. If she weren’t so nice, I would’ve totally hated her.
I mean, the little bitch was wearing a tank top and bicycle shorts—and her butt looked good in them. So not fair!
“Hello . . . ? Earth to Callie? Is your date here yet?”
“Not yet,” I stuttered.
“Did he stand you up?!” she said incredulously, ready to go beat him up for me, bicycle shorts and all.
I shook my head, trying to reconnect to reality.
“No, I mean, he’s not here yet because I just buzzed him in, and you know, there are five flights of stairs, so . . .” I trailed off.
Patience raised an eyebrow at me, then rolled her eyes.
“Here,” she said, thrusting the manila folder into my hands. “Make sure you give him this.”
I nodded vigorously.
“It’s important, Callie. For work.”
It was like she didn’t trust me to give the guy a stupid manila folder. Jeez, I wasn’t a total screwup . . . was I? The look on her face gave me pause, but I brushed it away. Of course Patience didn’t think I was a screwup. You didn’t introduce screwup friends to hot guys from work. It just wasn’t done.
“I will give him this manila folder if it’s the last thing I do,” I said.
“Make it the first thing you do, and I’ll be happy,” she called over her shoulder as she walked to her door and let herself in, leaving me alone in the hall.
Something niggled at the back of my mind. I tried to ignore it, push it to the nether regions of memory where the bogeyman and the My Little Pony Universe still resided from childhood, but suddenly the thought would not be laid to rest.
“Oh, Jesus!” I choked out, making a desperate run for the stairs.
What was I thinking!! I let the blind-date guy come right into the building, even though the big, scary monster might still be in the lobby! And all because I wanted to look hot! I am a screwup, after all!
I took the stairs two at a time, my kitten heels double clacking so loudly behind me that it sounded like the Easy Spirit basketball team was overrunning the stairwell.
“Shit,” I said under my breath as I almost went down the third flight headfirst.
I reached the bottom of the last set of stairs after what seemed like an eternity. My hair was in my face, and my cheeks were red from exertion, but I had made it. I was almost in the lobby, and I was gonna save my blind date if it killed me.
“Get away, foul beastie!” I screamed, brandishing the folder Patience had given me as I leapt off the last step, my velocity pushing me toward the front doors. I felt a sudden lurch, and I was falling face forward, the cool, green marble tile of the front lobby coming toward my unprotected face at amazing speed.
I felt two strong hands grab me from behind, and instead of hitting the floor face-first like I had predicted, I was suddenly on my feet, kitten heels making one loud, final clack as I caught my balance.
“Thank you,” I said as I looked up into the face of my savior. My blind date . . . Brian.
“You’re welcome,” he said, smiling. “That was almost a bloodbath.”
He was shorter than me. That was the first thing I noticed. Shorter and fatter than me, with a large head, and small round John Lennon glasses perched low on his long nose. If he had been maybe seven inches taller, I might have been thanking Patience, instead of cursing her heartily in my head.
“You’re . . . Brian?” I said weakly. He nodded happily.
Oh, God, I thought to myself.
“This is for you,” I said, thrusting the folder into his chubby hands. He took it, flipping through it before smiling back up at me. It was obvious that he was smitten. I was probably the most attractive female he’d ever touched.
“You didn’t see that big dinosaur-looking monster I mentioned down here when you first came in, did you?”
I looked around the lobby. Nothing. And then it hit me—if there had been something here, it would have eaten Patience when she came home. I couldn’t believe I had spent the entire afternoon hidden in the bathroom waiting for Animal Control because I was losing my mind, seeing things that were obviously not real.
Brian gave me a quizzical look, but shook his head.
“Sorry, no dinosaurs. But I did see a cowboy in his underwear playing a guitar in Times Square.”
since brian had saved me from certain facial disfigurement, I went to dinner with him. He was a nice guy. Short, but nice.
I was gonna kill Patience . . . right before I checked into Bellevue.
If I had any doubts about my sanity, they were not assuaged during the rest of the weekend. I spent all of Sunday hiding in my apartment, afraid to so much as turn on my television for fear of seeing more freaky things that would confirm my diagnosis of insanity. Feeling a little bit better when I crawled into bed that night, I said a quick thank-you in my head and closed my eyes, hoping Monday morning would put the weekend craziness into perspective.
I woke up late. So, instead of walking to work—which is the only exercise I get these days—I decided to take the subway. Now, I love the trains, but taking them in the mornings, and after work, is like willingly cramming yourself into a tin can of sardines—and smelly sardines at that.
Not something I enjoyed doing even on mornings when I was running late. Still, I really didn’t have a choice—the only other option was to take a cab, which would cost a small fortune, and probably make me even later.
So, that was how I found myself standing in a rickety subway car, holding on to a sweaty pole and praying someone would get off at the next stop so I could finally grab a seat.
I was totally minding my own business—trying to find my iPod headphones that somehow always ended up at the bottom of my purse wrapped around a tampon—when, suddenly, a homeless man was standing in front of me, staring at me with dark, hollow eyes.
Now, normally, I would just throw some change a few feet in the other direction, causing a homeless person free-for-all, but this guy didn’t even blink when I tossed a handful of quarters at the heavyset Hispanic lady who was taking up the whole row of handicap seats behind me. I felt a little bad about sending Mr. Homeless in her direction, but then I figured she was taking up all the handicap seats so she was fair game.
But instead of freeing myself from the Homeless Man’s eye-embrace, something strange happened. Something I had never experienced in my two years of Manhattan living—living that had exposed to me to lots of unseemly things which were rather scarring to my delicate countenance.
Instead of chasing the coins I’d thrown, the homeless man dropped to his knees—in a crowded subway car no less—and, looking up from his position of supplication on the dirty subway car floor, he wiggled his greasy eyebrows seductively at me, his eyes full of awe, and blew me a kiss.
That was not the bad part.
Here’s the bad part: As the car came to the next stop . . . Mr. Homeless leaned forward, and tried to kiss my feet through my Marc Jacob sandals!
The only way I could get the dude to cease and desist was to throw myself out the subway car doors right before they slid shut. Needless to say, I ended up engulfed in morning-rush-hour commuter traffic. I was lucky a gaggle of Wall Street number crunchers didn’t trample me and my knock-off Kate Spade bag right there on the subway platform.
All of this alone was heart-attack-inducing enough, but the worst part was yet to come. As I was free-falling out the subway doors, I actually thought I heard Mr. Homeless say:
“You’re next in line, Mistress Calliope.”
How the hell did Homeless Man know my name! I mean, I understand the guy intuitively sensing that I was a lovely thing of exquisite beauty that needed her feet kissed every once in a while, but c’mon, this was no idle beauty worship hit. This guy had some kind of agenda, and it probably included stalking me all day, then following me home to my sixth-floor walk-up and putting all my underwear on his head before murdering me in my bed.
So much for good, old Monday-morning perspective, I thought miserably.
when i got to work, immediately all my own worries were forgotten in favor of my boss’s needs.
I started the morning in what was turning out to be a fruitless search of the Internet for a restaurant that did organic dim sum. Easier said than done. I mean, have you ever eaten organic dim sum? Well, I hadn’t, but my boss, Hyacinth Stewart, had.
She had gone to some hoity-toity party on the Upper East Side the night before, and the hostess had bragged for hours about the organic dim sum she had served, and how Jennifer Aniston only ordered from the place whenever she was in town.
Excerpted from "Death's Daughter"
Copyright © 2009 Amber Benson.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I was really hoping to like this but I didn't. I really admire Amber Benson. She is a talented actress and seems to be a great a person. (I know people who have seen her at various conventions and they say she is very friendly to fans.) I have not read her comic books or other writhing but this series doesn't make me want to. First the character is one we have seen a lot of in the past few years. I blame "Sex and the City" for that. Second the story kind of wanders around and doesn't really hang together. Not that this is a bad book -- it is a quick read and I would suggest it for a beach or vacation to pass the time. I just wouldn't put it in my library or expect I would want to read it over again.
I confess, I only picked up this book because of the author and her Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame. Hey, not much monetarily to try a new author right? Boy was I surprised. This book was so well written, so hilarious and so enjoyable I have already reccommended it to several other people. My roommate is on the couch right now reading it and I keep hearing bursts of hysterical laughter drifting back to me. It was nice that so many Gods and Goddesses from various religions were mentioned but not harped upon. It was left open for possible sequels and I am definately keeping my fingers crossed that Ms. Benson decides to continue this character as a series. Not since Stephanie Plum (Janet Evanovich series) or Betsy Taylor-Sinclair (Mary Janice Davidson series) have I enjoyed a character based humor/human adventure story so much!
The most refreshing thing about this heroine is that she isn't the Tough Independent Chick of almost every other Urban Fantasy book on the shelves. Calliope (aside from having one of the coolest names ever) is definitely whiny, irritating, co-dependent, and oddly sympathetic. Truly someone thrust in over their heads as her father - The Grim Reaper - is kidnapped and finds out she alone is the sole inheritor of his position. The catch is if she doesn't take it then someone else does, and her family becomes mortal. Which is exactly what Calliope wouldn't mind happening and exactly what everyone else doesn't want. Add in the Devil's protege, a good dose of Indian myth (Kali is an excellent character here), and one of Cerebus' pups and there's a good set of people who are more competent (and possibly determined) than Calliope herself. As Calliope attempts to complete the tasks put forth before her to gain her father's mantle, in order to keep her family in the Death Business and hopefully save him in the bargain, she is helped and hindered by a colorful cast. By the end it's hard to decide if I want to slap the girl, or cheer her on. The downside is the that it takes nearly half the book for things to really pick up and grab the reader. The first half plods along, I found myself following less with a sense of wonder and more with a sense of wondering how Calliope is going to screw up next or what she'll find to whine about this time. By the second half the book finally grabbed me by the collar and dragged me in a headlong rush to the conclusion. Overall, it's worth the wait to get to, and I do so like our protagonist by the end.
She works in a dead end job because her boss relies on her so much she refuses to promote Calliope Reaper-Jones. She lives in New York, which is in her blood as a fashionista, but has not had a real date in months. One day on her way to work, Calliope sees a dinosaur-dragon who guards her building¿s door. At work, she goes to the bathroom where she meets a faun who breaks the forget-me spell leading to Calliope realizing who she is and what her family heritage is.
She is her daddy¿s daughter so handles well the news from her father¿s assistant the faun Jarvis that her sire, her sister Thalia and the rest of Death, Inc has been kidnapped. At her mother¿s request, Calliope returns home to see Sea Verge. She learns her family will be evicted from their home if Callie fails to become the Grim Reaper. To make the conversion to CEO, she must perform three tasks to determine her worthiness. First she must capture one of Cerberus¿ pups. Second she must find the Sea Foam from Indra a Hindu God who wants to kill the demon Vrita and find the Cup of Lamshid. Challenging her is Daniel who wants to be the next Death and Detective Davenport of the Psychic Bureau of Investigation who believes she was part of the kidnapping plot of her dad. If she succeeds and becomes Death, Callie knows this does not guarantee she will be able to rescue her father.
Leaving Buffy behind, Amber Benson writes an amusing action-packed chick lit urban fantasy loaded with more twists and curves than a twist-a-whirl. The heroine does not want to be the next Death as that might interfere with her nails and what she seeks on Craig¿s List, but knows her choices are limited to either death or Death. Filled with humor and wit, this is a refreshing original thriller as double, triple, and nth crossings are the norm.
I really wanted to like this one, but I just couldn't. I didn't like the main character Calliope Reaper-Jones. I didn't like how she treated her family, her attitude toward the current crisis, her apparent lust over every male character, her persistent use of the word "like" and the constant wining. I also found her complete lack of knowledge regarding the pantheon of gods to be unrealistic. She grew up in Death's house, around other supernaturals. Even with a disinterest in her heritage, she would have absorbed some knowledge. It's sad, because the plot itself was pretty well thought out, with unexpected twists. The main character just ruined it for me. I will not be reading the next one. **Originally posted on goodreads
I think the book amazing I love how I can't put it down and when I look at the clock its like 12 then all of sudden it 4 . now that a great book .. and I'm one that don't like reading .but amber Benson books are so amazing and she makes it easy in a way to read them they way she puts it in first and third person view I just feels like she there with you tell you the story thanks amber
Thoroughly enjoyed Death's Daughter. I loved getting to know the characters and look forward to seeing what happens in the next installment.
Three years ago Calliope Reaper-Jones put herself under a nice and comforting forgetting spell. Gone were the days of dealing with the craziness of the family business, Death, Inc. All Callie had to worry about now was finding the perfect man on Craig's List and finding organic dim sum for her boss. One bite of an organic cupcake later and Callie is right back in the middle of the family drama. Her father's right hand man, Jarvis, has come to notify Callie that her father and older sister have been kidnapped. Callie being next in line must assume the role of Death or her family losses their immortality. But it's not as simple as being the second oldest, Callie has to complete three tasks in order to take the reins and she has a competitor for the job... the devil's incredibly "hot" and irresistible protégé. I got a total kick out of this book. It's very different from the usual fantasy/paranormal story lines and it was funny to boot. Among the characters Callie had to face off against were, a psychical detective, an evil sea monster, a bitter Goddess and the devil himself. This was the first of a new series featuring Callie. It was a faced paced read and I look forward to many more books in this series. Highly recommended for urban fantasy or supernatural fiction lovers.
I have been reading alot of series and while waiting this looked interesting..starts off good-drags a little and too many characters but I will read the next if it is written..not too explicent but for those of us that like heavy books (think Black Dagger Brotherhood) this is very lite reading
I really need to remember that if I wouldn't want to hang around with the main character, I'm not going to enjoy the book. The girl is an idiot I would ditch in less time than it would take her to update her Facebook status. I'm assuming this thing was ghostwritten, as is normal for most books released by actors. I hate seeing an actor whose work I enjoy associated with something so puerile. I hope she gets some honest acting work again soon!
This fits firmly into the realm of chicklit meets paranormal, the main character is your average chicklit character and her twist is that while you meet her as a fashion obsessed, ditz, she's actually Death's Daughter, under a forgetting charm, and now she has to come home and save the day before someone else takes the job and her family loses their immortality. She didn't really feel as old as she's pitched, more teenage than anything but then again, with immortality how long would the teenage and early twenties mentality last?It's not a bad read but somehow I didn't really care enough about the characters or what was happening to them. It was engaging without really catching my full attention.
The main character has an annoying inner voice. In my opinion, she obsesses about fashion way too much, and has the story happen to her. I feel that she grows over the course of the book, but not quite enough to make being stuck in her head completely enjoyable. I still had fun though, it was great between homework sessions. No brain strain at all.
It was ok. Not great. The main character seemed pretty immature for someone over the age of 16. There were situations where she'd spout off some cheezy dialogue that might have sounded ok on Buffy but seemed pretty dumb coming out of an adult's mouth in a life-and-death situation (or say, talking to God... or the devil... or really anybody you just met). I think the author was trying for spunky but got inane instead... (also it sounded kind of like what a grown-up thinks an idiot teenager would say... so rang a bit false, especially since her thoughts were more believable than her words). But if you just ignore what comes out of her mouth and skim through it's a pretty easy read. Didn't hurt my brain one bit, but not a keeper.
Not a bad book. It took a little bit to get into it, since there is a little bit of a 'chick lit' feel or flavor to it, and I'm not the biggest fan of chick lit (I seemed to have totally skipped over it during my teen years, went right from Hardy Boys to the gooey gory-ness of Kathy Reichs and Beverly Conner etc.)But, back to the book. Once the book gets flowing it's a well written and well plotted (very tightly plotted I think, or at least that's how it seemed, since at the end I was thinking about the clues that were in the first part of the story that by the end were revealed as foreshadowing).Most of the characters are well flushed out and written so as to provoke some sort of response from the reader from annoyance (Really, Callie's sooo out there in her own world that she doesn't know who Cerberus is? Ookkkay), or like with Jarvis, who I wound out wanting to both punch and hug at the same time on occasion, or Daniel, I'm still not sure I like Daniel's character, but it was a well written one and it'd be interesting to learn more of his story.Anyway, I liked it. It's not a long or short read, it's not pretentious, and even though the main character seems to know nothing of the world the author does.There was only one thing that totally and utterly freaked me out every time I picked up the book and looked at the cover. My book edition had the blueish cover with the title in white and yellow author name, and literally every time I picked it up what went through my mind was, 'why is Elizabeth Vargas on the cover of this book'
An interesting concept, but not very well executed. The premise is promising: Calliope Reaper-Jones is the daughter of Death and wants nothing to do with the family business. But she has to leave her life of attempting to break into the New York fashion industry when her father is kidnapped. She must complete three tasks to become Death so it'll stay in the family and solve the mystery of who abducted her father. I don't mind books that have informal narration, but this one took it to the point where it discredits the author. Calliope would often make an observation in the narration to the reader and then say the exact same thing in her dialogue. There were too many "like"s and "totally"s for me as well. Good try, but not the best.
When a Forgetting Charm is needed to have a normal life, obviously Calliope should know better than to believe "normal" would last forever. Family always keep track of their own - and when Death gets kidnapped and you happen to be the daughter of Death, be sure that the higher beings will come to fetch Calliope to take over the business until her dad is found. But taking over is no easy matter - Calliope must complete three tasks to prove her worth, or else forfeit to the Devil's protégé who may not have Death's best interest.I enjoyed death's daughter, but I didn't totally fall in love with it. I could not quite grasp Callie as a person - what made her tick, why she insisted on a "normal" life, what motivates her to exist, anything beyond the here and now of her predicament. That said, I loved the world that Amber Benson built for Calliope to discover. There is a richness that leads to many possibilities and quirks that I cannot wait to see what is in store for Calliope! The quest-like nature of death's daughter sometimes feels slow, but it does pull every random thread together into one big finale where all the wolves in sheeps' clothing finally get unmasked.
When I heard Amber Benson of Buffy fame (she played Tara) was also a writer, curiosity got the better of me and I had to pick up the first book in her series about Penelope Reaper-Jones, yes, you guessed it, Death's Daughter.Well, picked up is not quite accurate, unless you call downloading it to my ipod and then picking up my ipod "picking it up". Still.So. The book. Liked the concept. But that was about all. At the beginning of the book we find Penelope trying to make her way in New York's coveted fashion world but stuck in a dead end job at a Home and Garden publication. She has put a forgetting charm on herself so that she could leave all the Death stuff behind, but it is broken by her father's satyr assistant, a fashion-conscious Englishman/goat with a snarky sense of humour. It turns out that her father and all the board of directors at Death, inc. have been kidnapped and if Penelope doesn't step up to the plate to replace her dad, her family will lose their immortality.But to be death, she has to complete three tasks, assigned to her by a board of Gods. And she isn't the only one after the job. Enter death's minion Daniel, who has been promised the job by Satan.It read a little bit like an adult, pantheistic version of Percy Jackson and the lightning thief, but with way more running commentary and product placement. Penelope's soliloquizing got a little bit much (especially since Benson had no problem actually using that verb to describe her musing, along with philosophizing - for example: Benson could have used a better editor, I philosophized). But the story was fast-paced and funny in parts. Sort of a chicklit is the grim reaper book. You've got your Prada shoes and your monsters and your heroine who is worrying about said Prada shoes when she is in the middle of a desert in hell.
When I saw that Amber Benson was writing novels, I knew I had to check them out. I loved her foray into writing comics, after all. I was lucky enough to pick up this book at a bookstore that was going out of business and it only cost me 90 cents.I'm glad I didn't pay more.This is chick-lit disguised as fantasy, which I am totally all right with. What I'm not all right with is the gamut of plot holes. And the over-writing. There were a lot of passages that went something like this:I could use a hotdog, I thought to myself."I could use a hot dog," I said out loud.[Note: not an actual passage from the book.]I kept wanting to hurl the book away because it happened so often.The premise is this: Calliope wanted a normal life and out of the family business, so she put a forgetting charm on herself so she wouldn't ever have to deal with her past again. But when her dad is kidnapped, it's up to Callie to go through some video-game-esque challenges to get him back. Oh, and her dad is the Grim Reaper.The plot had spark, or it could've been really engaging. I don't know why it just seemed to fall apart. I've read a lot of complaints about Callie's character, saying she's whiny and shallow. Well, wouldn't you be whiny if put into some of the situations she's been in? And I think her shallowness is needed for the story - there wouldn't be one without it. I was fine with Callie as a character, I just cringed at some of the writing, and rolled my eyes at the rest of the story.I only read this because Amber Benson wrote it. The reviews would've scared me away otherwise (and with good reason) and never would've touched it otherwise. I also picked up the sequel [book: Cat's Claw] and I feel like I made a commitment to read them both when I had her sign them for me a few months ago at Midtown Comics. I still believe in Amber, because she has many talents, I just hope her writing gets better.
It took me a couple of tries to complete this book. I think it might have worked better geared to a YA audience because the main character is in her early 20s, very immature, with speech that sounds like a teenager, "I am SO going to be unhappy if you do that--NOT." The transistions between scenes are often times a little abrupt, but at other times the main character spends a lot of time thinking over things that she and the audience should already know. That said, I gave it a star because there were some creative and amusing moments like the scene with the Bollywood dancer assassins.
From the start of this book, I felt the author was not connected to her characters. I felt as though I was a observer, and that the story was lacking the punch of a great story. I did not finish the second half of this book.
Three years ago Calliope Reaper-Jones put herself under a nice and comforting forgetting spell. Gone were the days of dealing with the craziness of the family business, Death, Inc. All Callie had to worry about now was finding the perfect man on Craig¿s List and finding organic dim sum for her boss.One bite of an organic cupcake later and Callie is right back in the middle of the family drama. Her father¿s right hand man, Jarvis, has come to notify Callie that her father and older sister have been kidnapped. Callie being next in line must assume the role of Death or her family losses their immortality. But it¿s not as simple as being the second oldest, Callie has to complete three tasks in order to take the reins and she has a competitor for the job¿ the devil¿s incredibly ¿hot¿ and irresistible protégé.I got a total kick out of this book. It¿s very different from the usual fantasy/paranormal story lines and it was funny to boot. Among the characters Callie had to face off against where, a psychical detective, an evil sea monster, a bitter Goddess and the devil himself.This was the first of a new series featuring Callie. It was a faced paced read and I look forward to many more books in this series. Highly recommended for urban fantasy or supernatural fiction lovers.
This book was a read for a RL SFF book group. It is an urban fantasy book that takes fantasy/horror elements and makes them true and places them in the modern day real world. It is also written by a celebrity, from the Buffy TV series. It is her first book alone. She really shouldn't have bothered, its awful.Let me say that the mechanics of the writing are good. The story is a quick read, that flows well. It is understandable, if only the story it was telling was enjoyable, and the characters were believable. The writing was why I rated it 2 stars instead of lower.I read urban fantasy, so I don't object to the book because of the sub-genre. The big problems are the main character and the back story of the magic element, and the actual story itself.The main character, Death's Daughter, Calliope, is a twenty something dingbat who acts like she is a brain damaged 15 year old. She is stupid, shallow, and self-absorbed, and very boring to read about. She whines all the time, about everything. One of the standards in this type of book is about difficulties in life and personal relationships the main character has, the problem is that if this isn't handled well, it is not humorous, cynical asides that further characterization, but annoying, selfish, whining that makes you want the character to die, horribly.She is also an emotional basket case: she wants to left alone, wants to be allowed to make decisions, wants help, and then resents it when it is offered. She is obsessed with fashion and brand names, so that the book reads like a product placement script, and she is only concerned about how she looks and the nearest hot guy. She can't see a male her age without having the hots for him, wanting to have sex right there and then, and simultaneously hating him.This may be a realistic portrayal of some type of teen girl, but they are not characteristics that make for interesting reading for an adult. This book is not marketed to YA or teens, but to adults in the SFF section.The back story is not even introduced until well in, when you are already asking how this all works. When you are thinking about how it all hangs together, you are not focusing on the story. Not good. The problem is that Death is a modern tennis playing man with a 30 year old wife and 3 daughters, 2 of whom are in their 20s and one is still in high school. Did I mention they are all immortal ? Okay, so how are they so young and recent? Death is as old as life, so how are they not as old, especially if they are immortal ? There is some mumbo-jumbo about god and the devil agreeing on a committee to confirm Death the person - huh ? In the offspring of the current Death there is one that has the birthright to be the next Death - but if they are immortal, why do they need more than one ? Her father has renounced her birthright for her (when she was a child) to protect her from those who want to be Death for the power and immortality. If someone else can renounce it for you, what does it matter if you have this magical birthright or not ? If you are immortal as she is (as one of Death's family), how can someone hurt her ? Why would he raise her magic-free so she is clueless about even simple things like getting around in the magical realm ? AND AGAIN, IF DEATH IS IMMORTAL, WHY DO THEY NEED A SUCCESSOR ?None of it makes sense.The actual story is supposed to be a mystery, of who kidnapped Death and all his minions, including her older sister ? Calliope has one short interview with a magical cop and he decides she is the perp, even though she had been away from her family living under a forgetting spell. There is no attempt to set up or solve the mystery realistically. Other characters are shallow and stereotypical. Her mother, younger sister, and family lawyer automatically believe that she is the guilty party, that she conspired with the devil, after treating her as inept and brainless.It is all set up to stage colorful fantasy scenes and bat
Was looking for Among The Ghosts and found this. Happy accident. Calliope Reaper-Jones, struggling New York assistant, would love to be a runway model. Romance would be nice as well. She is startled out of her peaceful life by a series of events that reveal she has been under a forgetting spell. She is actually the middle daughter of Death. She goes back home to find her father and older sister who are missing. In the meantime, the position of head reaper can't be empty. Calliope must prove she's worthy of filling the position and has to successfully perform 3 tasks or else her family's position and their immortality is at stake. Looking forward to reading Amber's follow-up, Cat's Claw.
Calliope "Calli" Reaper-Jones has had a Forgotten Charm put on herself so she can lead a normal mortal's life in New York City, trying to break into the world of fashion. The Forgotten Charm has made Calli forget about her family and her past. But Jarvis, a faun and her dad's assistant, shows up one day, breaks the charm's spell, makes her remember everything and tells her that her father, who is also know as Death, has been kidnapped.A reluctant and unhappy Calli heads to home to fill her father's shoes but finds that she has to complete three seemingly improbable tasks before she can become the head of the family business, Death, Inc. While Calli tries blundering her way through these tasks, she runs into competition for the job with Daniel, who happens to be the Devil's Protege and super model sexy.For the most part I enjoyed reading Death's Daughter, especially since it had a bit of a Buffy feel to it. There were plenty of fun characters, a lot of snarky and funny dialogue, overall entertaining. I like how Hell and Death, Inc. were run like corporations including a board of executives, definitely not my usual idea of either. Calli was sarcastic and hilariously funny at times, and her speak-before-thinking personality gets her into plenty of jams while trying to complete her three tasks for the job of Death. The downside of this book was as times I found Calli too long winded in her self-dialogues with herself and she had a few misplaced tantrums, especially when the book was a pivoting point. All in all, I like Death's Daughter well enough to read the next book. I just hope some the rambling is toned down and I find a little more grown up Callie in Cat's Claw.
Calliope (Callie) Reaper-Jones has been hiding from herself. No, really, she had a forgetful spell put on her so she would forget her family. But one magic cupcake later, she is back to herself and in the middle of a family drama. Her father, the Grim Reaper himself, and the entire board of Death, Inc. have been kidnapped. Now it is up to Callie, (and a few other supernatural creatures) to claim the title of Death and save her father and the rest of the board. OK, reviewers, lighten up. First this is chick lit. Callie is a wonderful chick lit heroine. She is supposed to be obsessed with clothes and stuff. Mostly I found Callie a fun character. And of course, the hell hound puppy is irresistable. I also found her family interesting. The world is a bit confusing but I hope that the next in the series will help clear up some things.