Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Book Review: The Death Catchers, by Jennifer Anne Kogler (2011, Walker Books for Young Readers)

Recommended for ages 13+

Lizzy Mortimer learns about her special gift on her fourteenth Halloween. As she reads the newspaper, the letters on the page rearrange themselves into an obituary for her best friend, Jodi, who isn’t dead – yet. After Lizzy and her grandmother, Bizzy (short for Beatrice) save Jodi from the path of an oncoming car;, Bizzy reveals to Lizzy that she is a Hand of Fate, descended from a long line of women hailing from Morgan le Fay of King Arthur fame. They have a gift that allows them to foresee when someone close to them is due to die before their time, and they have some time to try and stop it; the name of the person at risk also burns itself into the Hand of Fate’s arm until the person is no longer in danger. When Lizzy’s next “death specter” appears – the school crush, Drake Westfall – things get even complicated; Drake is the Last Descendant of King Arthur and Vivienne le Mort, one of Morgan le Fay’s sisters, wants him dead.
Written as a school essay for Lizzy’s teacher,The Death Catchers is written in the first person from Lizzy’s point of view. The chapter heads are named after different literary devices such as Foreshadowing, Aphorisms, and Proofreading; each chapter leads in with Lizzy’s explanation to her teacher that links the chapter head with the story; how Lizzy learned in her class what each device means, and then proceeds with her story. The characters are fairly well-written and the storyline is interesting, with the skeleton of Arthurian legend built in and fleshed out with a more modern perspective that will appeal to younger readers (and hopefully, get them interested in the tales of King Arthur). There is not a lot linking Drake to his role as Arthur’s Last Descendant – perhaps that will come in time, if Death Catchers becomes a series; for this book’s purpose, he is merely the plot device and provides a romantic interest that should keep girls reading.
Jennifer Kogler is a YA/Teen author primarily writing fantasy. Her author website allows readers to e-mail her and offers links to her blog, more information about her books, and readers guides for The Death Catchers and her other book, The Otherworldlies.

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