Book Review: The Secrets of Life and Death


ashley | Witches and Angels and Demons, oh my! You’ve heard the term borrowed time? The Secrets of Life and Death by Rebecca Alexander makes that literal, using magic that takes someone on the brink of death back a few paces and freezes them in a functional purgatory state between life and death, where they will live as long as they stay within a sacred circle of sigils. I thought this was a really interesting concept and something I haven’t come across too often before, which mades me even more of a fan of the premise.

It took me a while to get into this, though, it just didn’t grab me right from the start and I figured I was in for another who done it, with a bit of the DA Vinci Code attached. The more I pressed on, as things became clearer, the story became more interesting but there was just something holding me back from really enjoying this book.

I thought the characters were strong and well rounded, but none of them really stood out for me. I feel like Jackdaw had a lot of potential to be a kind of Lisbeth Salander like character, but that never fully developed. It makes sense that there was a romantic interest between the professor and Jackdaw, but I didn’t really feel like there was much depth to the budding romance. I thought this was well written, but nothing that made me completely lose myself in the words. I liked how much information was given on the past, but I didn’t overly enjoy the chapters that were from their perspective, nor did I really enjoy that one of them took on the first person narrative.

What I didn’t know at the start, which might have helped with my level of interest, is that the historical characters mentioned in the story were based on actual thinkers and people of that time. Sadly, my historical knowledge is lacking and I didn’t recognize countess Elizabeth Bathory as an infamous serial killer who was known for her vampire-like tortures of young girls to restore her youth. If I had known that going in, perhaps it would have made me feel more connected to the book.

The Secrets of Life and Death was a good read, but not great. I’d still recommend checking it out, there were some really good parts to it, but for a book about magic, I guess it was missing that magical spark.


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October 7, 2014

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