We’re going to start off today with a review of the grim dark/macabre/dark fantasy story Dagger and Scythe by Emilie Knight. The story was difficult to classify genre wise for me, because I am really not very good at classifying genre. However, this definitely follows along the lines of the dark fantasy and macabre genres. Given that, though, readers must note that this also contains a decent amount of romance. I would say the romance definitely qualifies as a subplot in this story, though it is possible to classify this as a romantic grim dark/macabre/dark fantasy story given that the romance actually is bigger than a subplot. What you get when you put all of this together is a fascinating story that is probably more adventure then otherwise with characters that are absolutely entertaining.
Let’s start with a bit of a summary. In the words of the author, “an undead couple takes over the underworld.” Yeah. It’s exactly like that. And it’s wonderful. It starts off with Dagger and Scythe being called to the office of their boss, the god of the underworld, Maniodes because they… made a mistake. They were both causing a bit too much in the way of chaos, and death and violence, and needed to be chastised. Maniodes decides that the best way to do this is by marrying them, forcing them to live and work together — without killing each other — and still doing their job. Things go from there.
So the story is basically Dagger and Scythe trying to figure out how to live with each other as a married couple and also perform their duties as a reaper without causing unnecessary chaos. Oh, and by the way, they’re not allowed to kill anybody without permission.
I would say that this story is definitely a charming one, which is a little ironic given the fact that Dagger and Scythe and their compatriots are quite violent and take great pleasure in death and destruction and chaos. There is a lot of interesting development that goes into the building of this world and exploring these characters. The story features a set of gods that are based off of a Greek pantheon, skeleton centuries who are sentient and absolutely entertaining, decor by human entrails (don’t worry they were already dead), and much more.
This story has a very good amount of depth in the development of the characters. At first, I was incredibly confused by Dagger and Scythe because: a) what was their purpose in life, and b) why was it such a problem that they were married? But as the story went on, I learned a good deal about their back stories and everything made sense. Scythe is the epitome of tragic and bitter, and her past definitely impacts who she is at present. And Dagger has an equally tragic back story, but is basically a giant puppy dog. With knives. You see a lot of interesting change in developments over the course of the story as we get to know the characters more and as we get to explore the world more. Even characters who are not seeing all that frequently, such as the fellow members of Dagger and Scythe’s order and the god of the underworld, have a very impressive amount of depth to them. The only exception to that, in my opinion, would be Axe, who is a little flat. But we don’t see him all that often, so I think it works out all right.
I think this story does very good job of exploring the line between reality and something that you think is there but isn’t. Dagger and Scythe have a hard time trying to figure out their purpose in the world, why they’re so violent, and their relationship with each other and their boss. However, this story also does a good job of not taking itself too seriously. There is a decent amount of humor, even given the fact that the majority of the story involves bloodshed, torture, etc.
And then there is the ending… As a reader, you know sort of exactly what is coming at the end, because it is talked about by the characters for a good portion of the story, but it isn’t at all what I would’ve expected. It was rather much more dramatic than anticipated. And I liked it. A lot. I can say no more than that for fear of spoilers, but but I shall say that if you read this book the ending is very lovely. And yes, I note the irony, given that this is a dark fantasy.
Overall, I would say that this book is a very good one and I would highly recommend it. I think that the characters are well-developed and well-rounded. I think that the world is well-developed and there is a lot of interesting culture there. I would have liked a map, but I am directionally challenged and can hardly keep track of my own neighbourhood. If you are interested in a grim dark/macabre/dark fantasy/romantic story, give this one a read. Oh, and by the way, it’s perfect for Halloween. (Decor by human entrails and all that.)