Saturday 13 November 2021

Book Review: Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden (Literary Fiction)

Title: Mrs Death Misses Death
Author: Salena Godden
Publisher: Canongate Books
Publication Date: 28 January 2022
Pages: 176
Format: eBook - EPUB
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley

Mrs Death tells her intoxicating story in this life-affirming fire-starter of a novel.

Mrs Death has had enough. She is exhausted from spending eternity doing her job and now she seeks someone to unburden her conscience to. Wolf Willeford, a troubled young writer, is well acquainted with death, but until now hadn’t met Death in person – a black, working-class woman who shape-shifts and does her work unseen.

Enthralled by her stories, Wolf becomes Mrs Death’s scribe, and begins to write her memoirs. Using their desk as a vessel and conduit, Wolf travels across time and place with Mrs Death to witness deaths of past and present and discuss what the future holds for humanity. As the two reflect on the losses they have experienced – or, in the case of Mrs Death, facilitated – their friendship grows into a surprising affirmation of hope, resilience and love. All the while, despite her world-weariness, Death must continue to hold humans’ fates in her hands, appearing in our lives when we least expect her . . .


Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden is a book that both hits and misses the mark. On the plus side, it offers a fascinating premise and presents some thoughtful and thought-provoking ideas within its pages. However the book as a whole didn't quite come together for me. The fragmentary style of the storytelling, swapping back and forth from snippets of prose to poetry, didn't fully engage me, so while I lingered over some sections, I skimmed through others. It had several brilliant moments, but lacked cohesion. I am sure some people are going to love this, while others stumble over the form, like I did. It does also discuss some dark topics, which may not be suited to all readers. Overall, I am giving it three stars. It was certainly an interesting read and I am glad I had the opportunity to give it a try.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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