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Mrs Death Misses Death

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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 shap 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 . . .


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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 shap 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 . . .

30 review for Mrs Death Misses Death

  1. 5 out of 5

    Louise Wilson

    ***TRIGGER WRNINGS*** There's stories of massacre, racial attacks, suicide, terrorism, child death, animal death, car crash, in fact, anything that you can die from. Mre death has had enough. She's 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. Wolf becomes ***TRIGGER WRNINGS*** There's stories of massacre, racial attacks, suicide, terrorism, child death, animal death, car crash, in fact, anything that you can die from. Mre death has had enough. She's 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. Wolf becomes Mrs Death's scribe, and begins to write her memoirs. The story is written in part prose and th othe part poetry. There is some similarities to the Grenfall Tower fire as Wolf's family died in a tower block fire. The entire book tells us stories and conversations about death. It also covers many topics including: sexual abuse, domestic abuse and police brutality. There's also a fair amount of foul language. This is a thought provoking read but it won't b for wveryone due to some of it's content. would like to thank #NetGalley, #Canongate and the author #SalenaGodden for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Twitter | Goodreads | Blog | Instagram | A poetic read. I thought I’d give this a go based on some really good recommendations. It’s a superbly written piece of work which I devoured BUT and a big but, by the middle of it I need to be honest here, I felt quite depressed and miserable. I don’t think I knew what to expect. Yes it’s got the word “death” in it so I was expecting some grief. Listening to this being read by the author on audio took on an entire meaning as it’s read harrowingly. The voice Twitter | Goodreads | Blog | Instagram | A poetic read. I thought I’d give this a go based on some really good recommendations. It’s a superbly written piece of work which I devoured BUT and a big but, by the middle of it I need to be honest here, I felt quite depressed and miserable. I don’t think I knew what to expect. Yes it’s got the word “death” in it so I was expecting some grief. Listening to this being read by the author on audio took on an entire meaning as it’s read harrowingly. The voice is somber and I just don’t think (looking back) I should have chosen to read/listen to it. Not with all the deaths with the pandemic etc.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    (I read this in 2020 but somehow forgot to post my review - it's published today). This is extraordinary! Brimming with originality, imagination, power and heart, this ranges widely through literary form (prose, poetry, play-script), and through time though it has its political eye firmly on our present from the intimated Grenfell Fire to Sarah Reed ('Mrs Death in Holloway Prison: Say Her Name: For Sarah Reed, Black Lives Matter'). Through the acquisition of a 'magic' desk, Wolf (whose mother per (I read this in 2020 but somehow forgot to post my review - it's published today). This is extraordinary! Brimming with originality, imagination, power and heart, this ranges widely through literary form (prose, poetry, play-script), and through time though it has its political eye firmly on our present from the intimated Grenfell Fire to Sarah Reed ('Mrs Death in Holloway Prison: Say Her Name: For Sarah Reed, Black Lives Matter'). Through the acquisition of a 'magic' desk, Wolf (whose mother perished in the tower block fire) learns to hear the voice of Mrs Death whose silenced profile and invisibility make her, of course!, an old, Black woman. A struggling writer, Wolf has found his subject. It's hard to convey the genius of this book: it's such easy reading in the way it slips down effortlessly yet the subject matter can be hard at times. For me, the quality of the writing is part Dickens neo-Gothic, part up-to-the moment social commentary, part lyrical poetry - and the cool playfulness of the title (Mrs... misses) gives a taster of the writing. A thrilling piece of writing that deserves to win literary prizes. Many thanks to Canongate for an ARC via NetGalley

  4. 4 out of 5

    BookOfCinz

    Solid premise, shaky execution. Mrs. Death Misses Death is Salena Godden’s first prose publication. The book is told in poetry and prose and follows Mrs. Death who is a Black Woman tired of doing this “job” she’s been doing since the beginning of time. In a near death experience, Wolf is saved from a fire and years later he is a struggling writer who ends up being the one to write Mrs. Death memoir. Wolf, who is no stranger to death finds it thrilling to be the one to tell the story of Mrs. Deat Solid premise, shaky execution. Mrs. Death Misses Death is Salena Godden’s first prose publication. The book is told in poetry and prose and follows Mrs. Death who is a Black Woman tired of doing this “job” she’s been doing since the beginning of time. In a near death experience, Wolf is saved from a fire and years later he is a struggling writer who ends up being the one to write Mrs. Death memoir. Wolf, who is no stranger to death finds it thrilling to be the one to tell the story of Mrs. Death. She takes him back in time, to places and major events that shaped her career. They both get to look at life through the lens of death, for the future, one thing is certain- death. Let me start with the things I loved. The Title: I mean, who does not love a great title? This one was so fresh and such great play on words. The Premise: I can say I have never read a premise like this. Death herself gets someone to write a memoir about her life. INJECT THIS IN MY VEINS! I mean seriously, how utterly original is this premise. Death as a Black Woman Ok, so I know this was probably explored already somewhere but for me, personally, I have always pictured death as a man. I do not know why I thought death had to be a man. Also, even if I did picture death as a woman, I would not have picture her as Black or a Black married woman. I think for me, this was well executed by the author, dispelling the myth that death had to be a man. The greatest trick man played was making you believe I was man. They erased me and made you all believe that Death was a male in spirit- the Grim Reaper. For surely only she who bears it, she who gave you life, can be she who has the power to take it. And there is no human more invisible, more easily talked over, ignored, betrayed and easy to walk pass than a woman; than a poor old black woman. Yes, this entire paragraph had me shaking my head so much, my neck hurt. I loved that the author put forward this very solid premise to build on. Exploring death Let’s be real, we are all going to die, yet, this is something I don’t think we talk a lot about. Or if we do it is generally clouded in fear. Death is the only thing we have surety about yet, as the book says, we don’t call it by name when it happens. We say, “pass on, passed…” anything but death. Without death, there is no life, and I enjoyed how the author was able to position death as something we should think about, maybe not harp on but at least think about. I liked that it is a troubled young writer who had experiences with people dying that got to have a friendship with Death. That for me really gave the theme the depth it needed. The Writing It is clear Salena Godden can write. This is my first introduction to her work, and she writes solidly. I have never read any of her poetry so it was great seeing a bit of it included in this book. She writes convincingly so much so, I started feeling sorry for Mrs. Death. Historical Look In the book Mrs. Death refers some deaths that made international news, or deaths that are still unsolved or you may not know about. I think getting a little history lesson within the book worked so seamlessly. What I didn’t love Above I gushed about how strong a premise this book had. When I see a strong premise not strongly executed it makes me sad, maybe even a little mad because I know with tighter edits and stronger editor the book would have been great. I felt the first 25% of the book was phenomenal, the writing, introduction of characters, scenes and Mrs. Death narration was flawless. Then, it all started to wane. Death in itself is a very board topic, it’s been happening since the beginning of time- there are so many ways to explore the topic and I think that’s where the author (maybe even the editor) may have went wrong, she tried to do entirely too much instead of keeping it tighter and more focused. At one point I was like, “huh, how dis even drop in yasso?!!” that for me was a little infuriating. While I didn’t absolutely love it, I know there are others who may enjoy it. I think one thing that really stood out for me was Mrs. Death saying, I’ve often wondered how very different this living life would be if we were born with our expiry date stamped on our foreheads. I mean, if we knew exactly how long and little time we have left to love each other, maybe then we would be more kind and loving. Imagine if we knew our death date. How different we would live, maybe, and yes I know, maybe not. Of course I well be reading more of what Salena Godden comes with next. Thanks Cannongate for sending me this ARC.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    This is a moving and thought-provoking story about Mrs Death. She has spent eternity doing her job and she is fed up and now wants to find someone and unburden herself what with all the things she has done. So, she meets a young writer called Wolf. Who has some experience in death as she nearly died in a fire and half her family is dead? Mrs Death shows Wolf everything about death and what could have been done differently and how people lived years ago and about life. How to live life to the ful This is a moving and thought-provoking story about Mrs Death. She has spent eternity doing her job and she is fed up and now wants to find someone and unburden herself what with all the things she has done. So, she meets a young writer called Wolf. Who has some experience in death as she nearly died in a fire and half her family is dead? Mrs Death shows Wolf everything about death and what could have been done differently and how people lived years ago and about life. How to live life to the fullest. The story is not written in a normal sense. This story is part narrative, part poetry. Thank you NetGalley and Canongate for a copy of Mrs Death misses death by Salena Godden. When I requested this, I was expecting something completely different to what I just read in a good way. This is an unusual, but beautifully written story about death but also life. It is fast paced and an easy read. I couldn’t put this down. This is one of them books that will leave you with unanswered questions that will stay in your mind for a long time. It also a great start for a debut novel. 4 stars from me.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    (Nearly 4.5) Grief Is the Thing with Feathers meets Girl, Woman, Other would be my marketing shorthand for this one. Poet Salena Godden’s debut novel is a fresh and fizzing work, passionate about exposing injustice but also about celebrating simple joys, and in the end it’s wholly life-affirming despite a narrative stuffed full of deaths real and imagined. What if Death wasn’t the male Grim Reaper stereotype? What if, instead, she was a poor black woman – a bag lady on a bus, or a hospital cleane (Nearly 4.5) Grief Is the Thing with Feathers meets Girl, Woman, Other would be my marketing shorthand for this one. Poet Salena Godden’s debut novel is a fresh and fizzing work, passionate about exposing injustice but also about celebrating simple joys, and in the end it’s wholly life-affirming despite a narrative stuffed full of deaths real and imagined. What if Death wasn’t the male Grim Reaper stereotype? What if, instead, she was a poor black woman – a bag lady on a bus, or a hospital cleaner? In this playful and lilting story, we learn of Mrs Death’s work via her unwitting medium, Wolf Willeford, who one Christmas Eve goes walking in London’s Brick Lane area and buys an irresistible desk that reveals flashes of historical deaths. Once Mrs Death’s desk (and resentful at not being a piano), it now transmits her stories to Wolf, giving a whole new meaning to the term ghost writer. Wolf compiles and edits her memoirs, which take the form of diary entries, poems, and songs. It’s never been more stressful to be Death, what with civil war in Syria, school shootings in the USA, and refugees drowning off the coast of France. But although the book’s frame of reference is up to the minute, wrongful deaths are nothing new, so occasional vignettes dramatize untimely demises – especially of black women – across the centuries: from the days of slavery to Jack the Ripper to police custody a few years ago. There are so many ways to die: really nearly took that other plane on 9/11 had a coconut fall on your head saw your village being bombed slipped taking a selfie by the Grand Canyon had a fight with an alligator got stranded in a fierce and fast-moving bushfire Speaking of fire, and of the title, Wolf (biracial, nonbinary, and possibly bipolar) is here to narrate only because Mrs Death missed one. Their mum died in a house fire. Wolf should have died that day, too, but heard a voice saying “Wake up, Wolf … Can you smell smoke?” Were they spared deliberately, or did Mrs Death make a mistake? (After all, we learn that when a patient briefly wakes up on the operating table before dying for good, it’s because Mrs Death’s printer got jammed.) Where I think the novel really succeeds is in balancing its two levels: the cosmic, in which Life and Death are sisters and Time is Death’s lover in a sort of creation myth; and the personal, in which Wolf’s family tree, printed at the end, is an appalling litany of accidental deaths and executions. It’s easy to see why Wolf is so traumatized, but Mrs Death, ironically, reminds him that, despite all of the world’s fallen heroes and ongoing crises, there is still such beauty to be found in life. All the warmth and all the joy is boiled in a soup of memory, we stir the good stuff from the bottom of the pot and hold the ladle up, drink, we say, look at all the good chunks of goodness, take in your share of good times, good music, good books, good food, good laughter, good people, be grateful for the good stuff, life and death, we say, drink. There were a few spots where I thought the content repetitive and wondered if the miscellany format distracted from the narrative, but overall the book more than lives up to its fantastic cover, title, and premise. And with the pandemic’s global death toll rising daily, it could hardly be more relevant. Unusual, musical, and a real pleasure to read: this is the first entry on my Best of 2021 shelf. Originally published on my blog, Bookish Beck.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    3.5 The first 80 or so pages of this book was easily 5 star - I loved it! Such a refreshingly honest book about death that manages to be both very funny and of course very sad at times too. I just felt the style started to get too disjointed and the poetry became a bit tiresome and almost didn't really bring anything to the book for me. I felt like it was a really great idea that was executed perfectly to begin with and then got messy and lost its way. Still, some excellent writing and one I've m 3.5 The first 80 or so pages of this book was easily 5 star - I loved it! Such a refreshingly honest book about death that manages to be both very funny and of course very sad at times too. I just felt the style started to get too disjointed and the poetry became a bit tiresome and almost didn't really bring anything to the book for me. I felt like it was a really great idea that was executed perfectly to begin with and then got messy and lost its way. Still, some excellent writing and one I've marked a few passages in to keep and read again.

  8. 4 out of 5

    I'mogén

    Thank you to Netgalley for an e-copy. All opinions remain my own. To start with, we got hit with some very strange but true disclaimers. If anything, if perfectly set the tone for what was to come. It was so lyrical and beautiful, mixing traditional story telling with poetry and a strange but haunting lilt and flow to words that made it at times frenzied and urgent, but soft and sing-song, simultaneously and separately. I would say to definitely go into this book aware that it will probably trigger Thank you to Netgalley for an e-copy. All opinions remain my own. To start with, we got hit with some very strange but true disclaimers. If anything, if perfectly set the tone for what was to come. It was so lyrical and beautiful, mixing traditional story telling with poetry and a strange but haunting lilt and flow to words that made it at times frenzied and urgent, but soft and sing-song, simultaneously and separately. I would say to definitely go into this book aware that it will probably trigger your anxiety, it certainly did me a little bit, and that there are themes very similar in content to what happened with the Grenfall fires. I guess because it's recent and nothing has still been done, it instantly brought those thoughts up. This was such a unique piece of art. It was weird and wacky, harsh but true, bold but beautiful and stirred within me so many feelings... The main one being that of feeling understood! I really enjoyed that Godden took this concept of Death, usually portrayed as male, and wove into a different personification, using the most unseen person in this world: an old, black, woman. It was fantastic and what the author did with it was fascinating! I also liked the idea of death being a rabbit too! It kind of reminded me a little of Melmoth at times. I think it just vibed similarly. I feel like I have so much to say that I can't contain myself, but at the same time not knowing how to express my thoughts, so for fear of rambling on, I'll keep this one short. Pick it up, give it a go and enjoy! >(^_^)< Gén

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jherane Patmore

    The most mystical, brilliant, and otherworldly book about death I've read since... high school? Wow, this book speaks about blood memory, time, death and of course life in ways I haven't experienced before. I'll keep saying it, poets who crossover to novels don't play fair! I made so many notes in my Kindle about this book and now I'm struggling to put into words how much it means to me. I'm also scared to read the bad reviews so I'm going to get off this goodreads and save this book for when I The most mystical, brilliant, and otherworldly book about death I've read since... high school? Wow, this book speaks about blood memory, time, death and of course life in ways I haven't experienced before. I'll keep saying it, poets who crossover to novels don't play fair! I made so many notes in my Kindle about this book and now I'm struggling to put into words how much it means to me. I'm also scared to read the bad reviews so I'm going to get off this goodreads and save this book for when I can read it in book club or with my friends, because they have excellent taste.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    Fuck me. I'm not going to go into details but death is a topic I have thought about a lot this year, for a number of reasons. The latest of which is discovering the term anticipatory grief and having the weight of that press down with unrelenting power. And so what better time to... read a book that makes the topic of death unavoidable?? A big swing, personally, it was high risk. Basically: Mrs Death tells her story. In doing so, across poetry and prose, offloading her tales onto young writer Wol Fuck me. I'm not going to go into details but death is a topic I have thought about a lot this year, for a number of reasons. The latest of which is discovering the term anticipatory grief and having the weight of that press down with unrelenting power. And so what better time to... read a book that makes the topic of death unavoidable?? A big swing, personally, it was high risk. Basically: Mrs Death tells her story. In doing so, across poetry and prose, offloading her tales onto young writer Wolf, it becomes a time leaping reflection of loss and life and hope through the deaths and near misses of many throughout. Have I seen a lot of the ideas in this book on how you need death to truly appreciate life before? Yes. Have I seen it packaged in such an enjoyable way? No. Have I picked possibly the most fucked up time emotionally to take on a book like this? Also probably yes, but I feel like I needed a punch to remind me of the good and memory that counters the loss. And what a lyrical punch it was.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Faichney

    Salena Godden's previous published work has been poetry and memoir, making "Mrs Death Misses Death" her debut novel. I enjoyed the inclusion of a disclaimer at the beginning, which directly addresses the reader and sets our expectations. Death then takes us on a journey back to the beginning of time, then back through evolution. Contrary to common perception, Death in this case is represented by an old, working-class black woman. And as we all know, old women (especially black ones) are invisibl Salena Godden's previous published work has been poetry and memoir, making "Mrs Death Misses Death" her debut novel. I enjoyed the inclusion of a disclaimer at the beginning, which directly addresses the reader and sets our expectations. Death then takes us on a journey back to the beginning of time, then back through evolution. Contrary to common perception, Death in this case is represented by an old, working-class black woman. And as we all know, old women (especially black ones) are invisible. Mrs Death exudes wisdom and imparts some of this to Wolf Willeford, a writer whose mother died tragically in a fire - the details of which felt like a respectful, rageful nod to Grenfell. Wolf is non-binary and describes themself as "Biracial, Bisexual, Bigender and Bipolar". Their story made me reflect on those I've lost and all those last times, of which I was unaware until it was too late. Godden's prose has a poetic rhythm like a heartbeat which builds to a frenzy in places. There are many themes explored in the novel, including the lengths to which we will go in an attempt to prolong our lives; the mad diets and self-deprivation. Climate change, our obsession with screens, constant worry, our fight for survival, taking life for granted. "Mrs Death Misses Death" is also part love letter to London's rich history. There are myriad fringe characters (real and imagined) throughout the text my favourite of whom was Tilly Tuppence and her Ma. Godden also presents us with an interesting theory pertaining to Jack the Ripper. The book is made up of prose, verse and song and I loved all of the side stories. The jazz trumpeter broke my heart. I also learned some new names to research further, e. g. Sarah Reed, Inga Maria Hauser, Joanne Dennehy. Love (in its many forms) runs through the text like a thread, tying all the strands together. Godden also touches on the maiden/mother/crone archetype, the notion of heroes and the rise in popularity of performative grief. Through an exploration of time and history, she provokes reflection on issues such as how well can we ever really know one another? And what is real, and what is feelings? And what are feelings? I loved the sections pertaining to The Desk and the idea of the shape the world carves into you. I also found it funny and poignant that The Desk is deeply dismayed it didn't get to be A Piano! Overall the novel is life-affirming and empowering. It's also motivated me to start sorting through some of my crap (both metaphorical and physical) so that nobody else has to deal with it when Mrs Death visits me.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    Thank you to NetGalley and Canongate Books for the arc of Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden This follows Mrs Death who spends eternity doing her job and now in which she seeks someone to unburden her consequences... She meets Wolf who is a young writer who is troubled whom is also well acquainted with death itself, Interested and gripped by her wolf decides to say in which to write her memoirs he travels with Mrs death through time to witness deaths of past and future, and what does the fut Thank you to NetGalley and Canongate Books for the arc of Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden This follows Mrs Death who spends eternity doing her job and now in which she seeks someone to unburden her consequences... She meets Wolf who is a young writer who is troubled whom is also well acquainted with death itself, Interested and gripped by her wolf decides to say in which to write her memoirs he travels with Mrs death through time to witness deaths of past and future, and what does the future hold.....? This was a very gripping and interesting read something different to what I usually read ☺️☺️ but I thoroughly enjoy it❤️ 4 stars recommend ❤️

  13. 4 out of 5

    Fazila

    Check out the full review on my website. CLICK HERE SUBSCRIBE TO MY CHANNEL : YOUTUBE FOLLOW ME ON : TWITTER INSTAGRAM FR REVIEW : DISCLAIMER : Thank you, Netgalley, and Canongate Books for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am leaving this review voluntarily. Mrs. Death Misses Death by Salena Godden is prose and poetry mixed with narration style writing, and is more of a literary style of fiction than a straight-up fantasy, in my opinion. I requested this book after reading the fascinating syn Check out the full review on my website. CLICK HERE SUBSCRIBE TO MY CHANNEL : YOUTUBE FOLLOW ME ON : TWITTER INSTAGRAM FR REVIEW : DISCLAIMER : Thank you, Netgalley, and Canongate Books for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am leaving this review voluntarily. Mrs. Death Misses Death by Salena Godden is prose and poetry mixed with narration style writing, and is more of a literary style of fiction than a straight-up fantasy, in my opinion. I requested this book after reading the fascinating synopsis. The story is about Death, and how tired Death is of taking people's lives, and the insight we get into the psyche of Death itself. The book features death as a black woman who goes after people's lives when it is their time to die. After living the life and doing her job endlessly, she is tired and wishes to unburden her thoughts to a young, troubled writer Wolf. The book is written in part narration style and other parts in prose. The alternating perspectives help us understand Mrs. Death and Wolf and how their experiences shaped them. The themes and concepts were interesting to read, but at the same time, the writing style and the repetitions did trigger my anxiety. I finished 70 % of the book, and I needed to put it down several times. Initially, I started the book in November and had to stop reading it, because of the hike in my anxiety. Now after, picking it up again in hopes of finishing it, I find myself not wanting to continue on the path to destroying my mental state. I am sad to say, I had high hopes for this book, and if it wasn't for my mental health, I would have finished it by now. The stream of thoughts flowing without any rule kind of took out the appreciation for me. I guess the format is not very well suited for me. I can only say that if you love combos of different styles clubbed together bringing the readers a unique book, with essential questions, one needs to reflect upon, then this might be the book for you. Overall, the book is different and unconventional in every sense. I am giving the book 2 stars for the 70% I read. I DNFed it, and unfortunately, I won't be picking it up again. I would recommend trying it out and see for yourself if it is something you would like to read. This book comes out on 28th January 2021, if you are interested in this title, do keep an eye out.

  14. 4 out of 5

    rebecca

    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an arc in exchange for an honest review. elevator pitch: Wolf, a young, struggling writer and already familiar with grief, grows acquainted with Mrs Death. Through their shared desk, the two share their stories of love, loss and pain. review: This is abstract and esoteric, and because of this will be off-putting to some. But it is also lyrical and poignant. It's very compelling and I read it very quickly (the disclaimer didn't lie about being Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an arc in exchange for an honest review. elevator pitch: Wolf, a young, struggling writer and already familiar with grief, grows acquainted with Mrs Death. Through their shared desk, the two share their stories of love, loss and pain. review: This is abstract and esoteric, and because of this will be off-putting to some. But it is also lyrical and poignant. It's very compelling and I read it very quickly (the disclaimer didn't lie about being able to read it on a train from London to Liverpool!) - once I started reading there was no stopping until it was finished. The overall talk of death and grief is quite existentially heavy and anxiety-inducing, particularly in it's descriptions of a Grenfell like incident (I'm unsure if it was meant to literally be Grenfell or just something similar - either way it was upsetting but still Godden handled the topic well by really honing in on the grief of one individual. It brings the focus back to the humanity of those affected as opposed to news stories focused on politicians being absolved and forgetting the human cost.) It also drew me to reading up more on injustices I had never heard about (such as Sarah Reed and Inga Maria Hauser). This book focused on violence against the female body, particularly against black women and how overlooked they are in society. Again, it is a weighty topic but an important one and Godden did a great job of depicting. Mrs Death Misses Death is an odd and unique read, filled with incredibly imaginative writing. I don't know if it's a book I enjoyed, but it is one I savoured and am sure I will be thinking about for a long time.

  15. 4 out of 5

    AtomicBooks

    This book is to be appreciated rather than enjoyed after all it is about death. Having said that it is a book really about life and it’s scary in places. This book is in parts poetic, in part observations and in parts a story. This is the type of book that should be read by all ages and should be studied by the young. It is about the World, it is about Black Life’s Matter, it is about all life’s matter, it is about the silly things that people say and do around death, it’s about the mad and bad This book is to be appreciated rather than enjoyed after all it is about death. Having said that it is a book really about life and it’s scary in places. This book is in parts poetic, in part observations and in parts a story. This is the type of book that should be read by all ages and should be studied by the young. It is about the World, it is about Black Life’s Matter, it is about all life’s matter, it is about the silly things that people say and do around death, it’s about the mad and bad things people do in life, as Death says “unless the Humans change the way they are living, they cannot change the way they are dying.” It is actually about so many things. This book is quite profound and will win awards. I would definitely recommend this book, you might not enjoy it but you will definitely appreciate it and it’ll stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it. And I feel grateful to have been gifted an advanced copy.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Resh (The Book Satchel)

    Mrs Death misses death is a different kind of novel. It merges prose and poetry to tell the story of Death and a writer Wolf. The personification of death as a woman was interesting as a concept. Here Death is a black woman taking different forms/jobs and is seldom noticed by others. She tells her story—kind of like a memoir—to Wolf. Within the pages we visit deaths of past (as old as 1700s), present, deaths that hover between life and death. The whole book tells stories + conversations. We get Mrs Death misses death is a different kind of novel. It merges prose and poetry to tell the story of Death and a writer Wolf. The personification of death as a woman was interesting as a concept. Here Death is a black woman taking different forms/jobs and is seldom noticed by others. She tells her story—kind of like a memoir—to Wolf. Within the pages we visit deaths of past (as old as 1700s), present, deaths that hover between life and death. The whole book tells stories + conversations. We get to know Death and Wolf and the deaths in their lives. Some are better written than the others. There's the story of a woman who makes a young girl undress and asks men to pay a tuppence to have a peek. Soon the business flourishes and there are holes all over the walls and a higher priced hole over the roof where men can peek at her. Later she is asked to offer more to keep the men coming, maybe paint a nipple red. This was such an intriguing story and I enjoyed it. While the concept is certainly interesting, I wish it was specifically mentioned in the blurb that the book is a mix of prose and poetry. I was not expecting it (I almost thought if there was something wrong in the formatting). I found my interest sinusoidal—at times I was heavily invested in the particular story but read another one half heartedly. The book explores race and gender but at some portions, they don't work well—i don't know why whether due to the experimental structure or because we are suspended between Wolf's own story and Death's past.. That said, I am looking forward to see what Godden writes next. She has certainly got an imagination. Much thanks to Canongate for an e- copy of the book. All opinions are my own. Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Goldson

    This book is really a multi layered meditation on death. There are two main characters: Mrs Death, and Wolf Willeford, who is her scribe and writes down her thoughts and feelings and experiences, as well as Wolf’s own thoughts and feelings. The book springs around in time from 1868 for example, with a story of a murdered girl, to the present, with lists of famous people who have passed away in the last couple of years, and meditations on what that means to us. Other chapters are short poems about This book is really a multi layered meditation on death. There are two main characters: Mrs Death, and Wolf Willeford, who is her scribe and writes down her thoughts and feelings and experiences, as well as Wolf’s own thoughts and feelings. The book springs around in time from 1868 for example, with a story of a murdered girl, to the present, with lists of famous people who have passed away in the last couple of years, and meditations on what that means to us. Other chapters are short poems about famous deaths, or notorious deaths, or notorious killers. There’s mention of Bowie, Prince, Myra Hindley, Rose West, Diana, and many more. There are allusions to Grenfell, and the story of Jack the Ripper is covered, too. So be prepared for a book that will examine all the death that we are familiar with but somehow remains taboo in our modern society. Refugee boats in the middle of the sea, Syrian bombings, and mass murders are all lamented. The tone of the book is thoughtful and mournful, and it certainly made me think and reflect. I suppose we are familiar with the Grim Reaper and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, or even the Pardoner’s Tale in Chaucer. Well, with the character Mrs Death, Godden takes the idea of death straight into the 21st century. There is a chapter where she sits and talks to Doctor Delano about how she is feeling, which is pretty overwhelmed with all the deaths she is having to cope with. She’s exhausted, anxious, depressed. She marvels at humans and their ability to turn a blind eye to the destruction of the oceans with plastic. This is a book that travels across time and place to explore feelings about death. I found it positive and uplifting, which might sound strange, but it is part of the memento mori tradition, I think; it makes you think you must seize the day.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Vivienne

    “death is a rabbit darting in a distant field death is the stranger you feed at your door ...” - from ‘Mrs Death Misses Death’, 2021. This image of death as a rabbit was one of many poetic interludes within ‘Mrs Death Misses Death’ by Salena Godden. She is an established poet, essayist, broadcaster, and activist though this is her debut novel. It is quite an unusual novel both in its themes and structure. It is also highly engaging: a literary novel that is accessible rather than ‘challenging’. M “death is a rabbit darting in a distant field death is the stranger you feed at your door ...” - from ‘Mrs Death Misses Death’, 2021. This image of death as a rabbit was one of many poetic interludes within ‘Mrs Death Misses Death’ by Salena Godden. She is an established poet, essayist, broadcaster, and activist though this is her debut novel. It is quite an unusual novel both in its themes and structure. It is also highly engaging: a literary novel that is accessible rather than ‘challenging’. Mrs. Death is exhausted from doing her job. She encounters Wolf Willeford, a troubled young writer who is already acquainted with death. Until now he hadn’t met death in person and is surprised to find that Death is a black, working-class woman, who shape-shifts and undertakes her grim reaping unseen. “The greatest trick man played was making you believe I was a man. ...that Death was male in spirit - the Grim Reaper in a black hood with a scythe.” Wolf becomes Mrs Death’s scribe and begins to write her memoirs. He obtains an antique desk that serves as a conduit allowing Wolf to travel across time and space with Mrs Death to witness deaths of past and present and to discuss what the future holds for humanity. This was such a delight. It opens with a long disclaimer warning the reader about content. This did seem to be written with more than a touch of wry humour regarding the current tendency towards the inclusion of such warnings. This novel is light and dark, a tragedy and a comedy, a philosophical meditation on the nature of death and yet life affirming. Mrs Death also reminds us of how many deaths are preventable including the spate of deaths by selfie and poignant memories of the London Grenfell Tower fire. I found myself completely drawn into this wonderful novel. I had received an advance digital review copy via NetGalley from Canongate Books, though loving it so much I quickly purchased its hardback edition. I complemented my reading with its audiobook edition, read by the author. Salena Godden includes a bonus track setting ‘Fears’, one of the poetic sections, to music. This was amazing. I loved this novel so much and expect to not only widely recommend it but to reread to further appreciate its multiple layers. In my opinion it is a masterpiece that deserves wide recognition. Given its themes and Salena Godden’s exquisitely lyrical writing, I would expect that it will be a strong contender for this year’s U.K. literary prizes. On a side note the artwork for the cover designed by Gill Heely featuring a wolf and a rabbit in gold and black is very striking.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dee Dee (Dee Reads for Food)

    TW: discussion about/diagnosing with Bipolar Disorder At first glance, this book is weird and doesn't have an obvious point. Until you're well into it and suddenly Wolf and Mrs. Death's relationship is the most important thing in the world. You begin to relate to and care for them. You watch as they spiral and fixate on the story and each other, completely disregarding their needs. -- When I am writing with Wolf I feel seen and heard, actually listened to for once; for the first time ever I am no TW: discussion about/diagnosing with Bipolar Disorder At first glance, this book is weird and doesn't have an obvious point. Until you're well into it and suddenly Wolf and Mrs. Death's relationship is the most important thing in the world. You begin to relate to and care for them. You watch as they spiral and fixate on the story and each other, completely disregarding their needs. -- When I am writing with Wolf I feel seen and heard, actually listened to for once; for the first time ever I am not just an invisible cleaner, clearing the dead bodies. -- It's my fault for thinking that this would have been more fantastical than it was. However, I didn't feel like I missed out on anything for its lack of high fantasy elements. Death was deeply caring and only wanted the absolute best for humankind. Each suffering took a toll on her. I honestly don't know who I would recommend this for, who the target audience is. All I will say is that if this sounds like something you would read, then you should.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Satbo Reads Books

    Now with book I really didn't know what to expect. Mrs Death is exhausted from spending eternity doing her job and now she seeks someone to unburden her conscience to. Wolf Willeford, a troubled young writer, who meets Death in person – a black, working-class woman who shape-shifts and does her work unseen. Wolf becomes Mrs Death’s scribe, and begins to write her memoirs. Wolf travels across time and place with Mrs Death to witness deaths of past and present and discuss what the future holds for Now with book I really didn't know what to expect. Mrs Death is exhausted from spending eternity doing her job and now she seeks someone to unburden her conscience to. Wolf Willeford, a troubled young writer, who meets Death in person – a black, working-class woman who shape-shifts and does her work unseen. Wolf becomes Mrs Death’s scribe, and begins to write her memoirs. Wolf travels across time and place with Mrs Death to witness deaths of past and present and discuss what the future holds for humanity. The book obviously discusses death and its opposite, life. Wolf and Mrs Death's discussions on death are certainly eye opening and make you reflect on your own ideas on death. As morbid as it sounds, death is something we hate to think about but along with Wolf we get to confront our ideas on death. The book left me with things to ponder on and there are some great quotes. One of my favourites is "To die is to be have been alive, that is why you must live: live free, live wild, live true and live love alive." As much as it talks about death, you find yourself rethinking what it means to be alive. Living. Life. The story itself was a bit underwhelming for me but I did enjoy thinking about death more than I ever have. This book is very original so scores top marks for that! Content warnings though there are graphic descriptions of death in this book! TW: suicide 3/5 Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury UK for an ARC in exchange for a honest review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    A completely different kind of novel that serves as a meditation on life and death through the ages. I came to know Godden's work through her association with the Curfew Tower (she was there in April 0f 2018; I was there in August 2019) and was surprised and delighted to see the old tower make an appearance late in the book. A completely different kind of novel that serves as a meditation on life and death through the ages. I came to know Godden's work through her association with the Curfew Tower (she was there in April 0f 2018; I was there in August 2019) and was surprised and delighted to see the old tower make an appearance late in the book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Natalie ⋒

    Intelligent and exquisite, thought-provoking and soul-stirring. This book makes me want to write, it makes me want to read, and it makes me want to live. With a perfect blend of poetry, fiction and social commentary, I know this is, and will remain, one of my favourite reads of the year. Thank you Salena!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tutankhamun18

    //DNF at page 50.// Absolutely LOVE the premise. Really dislike the writing style. Did not like how the pages and pages just felt like lists. This and that and this and that. Things like having a milk expiration date marked on our foreheads, was just such a stupid idea- which I think is prompted upon only a shallow refelction of death. According to Goodreads reviews these two points continue through the book, so I just cannot be bothered to finish it. It included poetry was not to my taste.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lolly Shakirat

    Thanks Canongate for the eARC of this title! I requested this title because my first thought on seeing the title was "WOW what a fascinating title"! After reading that title I decided I needed it ASAP. My second thought, before reading the blurb was, Mrs Death misses death? She misses Mr/Mrs/Mx Death? Where have they gone? But then I was like, oh maybe she misses death, doesn't always quite get people the first time round... I wasn't sure at all to be quite honest. So my thoughts so far, are tha Thanks Canongate for the eARC of this title! I requested this title because my first thought on seeing the title was "WOW what a fascinating title"! After reading that title I decided I needed it ASAP. My second thought, before reading the blurb was, Mrs Death misses death? She misses Mr/Mrs/Mx Death? Where have they gone? But then I was like, oh maybe she misses death, doesn't always quite get people the first time round... I wasn't sure at all to be quite honest. So my thoughts so far, are that its a great book, but not an easy book? Its about death and death and Wolf are both interesting characters but I don't love them 🙈 Its a slow going book, my favourite bit so far is a story about Jack the Ripper, a book about Death and her adventures and it only feels like its picking up almost 50% of the way through.. Okay, back two days later after finishing this book and I think I get it a bit more. Death is personified as a working class black woman and Wolf our main character is a biracial individual who has seen his fair share of death, the aftermath of death has been, not a constant per se, but a presence on multiple occasions in his life. This is a good book, no doubt about it. But I don't know if I quite got it to begin with. I was a little confused, considering the subject matter I should not have expected this to be a super easy read. But I guess I was, I was kind of waiting to read about Mrs Death's adventures in death the interesting deaths she's facilitated, the adventures she has had. This was not that. This is a book about Wolf Willeford, a struggling writer, and his relationship with death, its been a constant and a focus in his life. And after an intense bender (which totally sounds like it could have killed him) Wolf sees a beautiful antique desk in an antiques shop and buys it. When it gets delivered Wolf starts talking to Mrs Death who talks back. Mrs Death tells Wolf of all the things she's seen in her existence, the way humans have evolved, her relationship with Life, the love she's had and the deaths she's facilitated. It was a really great read but I wasn't super satisfied with it. I think if I had known the author was a poet beforehand I would have known what to expect!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Adeel

    Having spent an eternity bringing death to people, Mrs Death, an old black woman, is now exhausted and has had enough of all this weight and death on her shoulders. Mrs Death meets Wolfe Willeford, a young writer who has a lot going on himself and has been through a lot in his life. Wolf has already met Mrs Death twice. He experienced death firsthand in a tower flat fire that killed his mother and a few other people. Somehow Mrs Death missed his death and let him get away. That is the first time Having spent an eternity bringing death to people, Mrs Death, an old black woman, is now exhausted and has had enough of all this weight and death on her shoulders. Mrs Death meets Wolfe Willeford, a young writer who has a lot going on himself and has been through a lot in his life. Wolf has already met Mrs Death twice. He experienced death firsthand in a tower flat fire that killed his mother and a few other people. Somehow Mrs Death missed his death and let him get away. That is the first time he meets Mrs Death. The second time he meets death is on Christmas Eve when he's taking a stroll and ends up buying an antique desk. The desk becomes the channel that connects the experiences of Death and Wolf. Through the desk all of Mrs Death’s work rushes through his mind as if he's travelling through time and space. "I will be nothing more than a servant to this desk. I am a poetry monk. I am a writing slave to The Desk. I will write everything The Desk tells me to write." Through Wolf, Mrs Death finds a place to unburden herself from all the death and shares her stories. Essentially, Wolfe ironically becomes the ghost writer of death writing through Death in the form of poems and memoirs. This was a fantastic story with some of the most unique styles of writing I've come across in a long time. The use of poetry and prose was so well combined and I loved the overall creativity. There were many times where I was speechless due to the wordplay and how it hits you to the core of your soul. Although the chapters were short each left a string of emotions going inside of you. When considering the character of Death itself, it was great seeing a fresh take on death. Many of us picture a man with a black robe i.e. grim reaper. When, in fact, in this story she is in the form of an old, lonely black woman who appears in the form of a cleaner. Through this Selena highlights that it is women who have constantly been put in the sidelines while the men take the spotlight. Death merely stays in the shadows doing her bidding. "It is exhausting how much space men want and how much credit and control man wants to take for mankind.” I, honest to God, felt so bad for the character of Wolf. The death of his mother impacted him so much. His mind had been left fragmented and traumatized. Wolf constantly questions why he didn't die and whether Mrs Death made a mistake. We later discover he may have bipolar disorder which is making him even more erratic. The decline of Wolf's mind can be seen through the superbly executed writing. Wolf and Mrs Death's relationship soon becomes a key factor for both of them. They end up becoming reliant on each other to make sense of everything that's happened in their lives and their experiences. It's left them very disorientated. Through Death and Wolfe's conversations, Salena Godden analyses issues such as racism, serial killings, accidents, and the increasing matter of climate change. When discussing death, Salena Godden also discusses her experiences in dealing with real life deaths such as the deaths of refugees in France, school shootings in American schools, and the ongoing civil war in Syria. "I believe it was you who threw people overboard on the Titanic to swim to lifeboats. I believe you hold dinghies filled with fleeing immigrants afloat on rough seas. I think you give as much as you take." Mrs Death also explores current race issues taking homage from the Black Lives Matter moment. I never knew about Sarah Reed who was beat up by a white police officer and left to die under suspicious circumstances in jail. The events Mrs Death talks about highlight slaves being thrown off slave ships for insurance payouts and Jack the Ripper murdering his first victim at the age of fifteen. Furthermore, Death explores the issue of climate change and the fact that humanity has, in simple terms, f***** itself sideways and is on the brink of being totally erased due to the damage being done to our environment. Essentially, throughout the book Death constantly reminds us that life and death are a constant and without death, life wouldn't exist. As hard as it is to say, our journey one day will inevitably come to an end and no matter how hard we try to prolong life, death is always waiting in the shadows. These momentswere particularly dark and gave me a jolt because of how deep things got. What I think, however, is that the novel really puts the spotlight on the interconnection between Life, Death, and Time. Death and Life are sisters, Death hates Life for giving life and being the favourite. Time is Death's soul mate."Time was my first love. Time felt reliable, solid, like a tree with strong roots that go all the way down to the centre of the heart of the earth and with arms that can go all around the universe. All that Time, it greases the cogs that make the earth spin on its axis.' At the end of the book Mrs Death reminds Wolf that there is so much shit and nonsense happening in the world and death is increasing at an alarming rate, but there is so much beauty in life and we should grasp every second, minute, hour, and day that we have in this world. "This is your life, your one precious life, it is your time to walk with Life" Overall, Mrs Death Misses Death was a superb read and I really hope it wins many literary awards this year. The writing put a spell on me and made me fall deep down into the rabbit hole. The mix of poems, memoirs, and songs was so refreshingly unique to me. Selena Godden highlights many key issues of today and yesterday. It's a book that will stay in my mind for such a long time and I've made sure to put sticky tabs on my favourite quotes. There are so many quotes that I kept reading again and again because of how impactful they were to me. It has left me reflecting on the life I have lived and how I should start seeing the beauty of what's in front of me. I'm left feeling a rollercoaster of emotions right now. Thank you very much to Canongate for gifting me a copy. So grateful to have been given the opportunity to review this book

  26. 5 out of 5

    Catalina

    2.5* I would have loved this book if it wasn't for a few false or partial false ideas being promoted (oh the irony of Mrs Death complaining that in the age of information people choose to promote fake news) in this book, that really, really grated on my nerves. But I will start with what I liked. The subject: my first thoughts upon requesting this novel was that the subject seems to be quite unusual and unique - and I love exploring anything that might be outside the box. The form: I've enjoyed t 2.5* I would have loved this book if it wasn't for a few false or partial false ideas being promoted (oh the irony of Mrs Death complaining that in the age of information people choose to promote fake news) in this book, that really, really grated on my nerves. But I will start with what I liked. The subject: my first thoughts upon requesting this novel was that the subject seems to be quite unusual and unique - and I love exploring anything that might be outside the box. The form: I've enjoyed the amalgamation of prose, poetry, spoken word, introspection, diary. It was like a bit of fresh air: especially when Wolf's introspection, which at times bored me, was cut off by bits of poetry. But also the final diary entries as verses - I really loved those. The play-on-word was another aspect that I really appreciated. I don't really know what you'd call this technique (I would have thought alliteration but google says it's epizeuxis or diacope?) of using the same word, at times with different meaning in the same phrase but I'll exemplify: I met Time sometime and next thing I know Time is all mine and Time is so beautiful and it is a beautiful time and when we were together time stopped and we were timeless. How time flies when you’re having fun.. This word play is being used various times, every time with gorgeous results. Oh and seen that I am here, where Death talks about Time, I also want to highlight another passage about the reality of living in the present that I found clever: If you stop and face Time, take a deep breath, you’ll find your own reflection in that eye. It is then you’ll see who you were and who you are and then you’ll see who you want to be. Often you’ll find that you were never moving forward or looking backward, but you were always just in one place, inside you and here, the place we call the present. I've been fascinated by Tilly Tuppence's story and the take on Jack the Ripper's identity - that was smart. Now the other side of the coin. The idea of Death as a woman is nothing new, please don't pat yourself on the back prematurely. Despite you thinking that Death is never a women because society doesn't want to give so much power to a women, the idea is false: Death has been represented as a women in mythology, art, literature etc. In fact in many Romance languages, where words have gender(as opposed to English), Death is feminine and you'll find Death portrayed as an old ugly woman, for example. Another good example is Hel, the goddess of death in Norse mythology. Now for Grim Reaper - it's more of a modern invention that has spread like fire in our collective imagination but it is suppose to be asexual. I do agree that many see it as a male. The reason behind that, in particular in the modern age, is not due to discrimination against women but in fact due to discrimination against men. We see Death as a negative thing(it takes people too early, takes people we love away from us etc) and we love to portray villeins as men. I agree with your dissatisfaction of not seeing females as villeins, I think women are as capable of inflicting tremendous damage just as men are. But once again we, as a society, are doing this because we discriminate against men and we are very apologetic versus women and very lenient when it comes to their wrongdoings. Same story with fertility and ability to bear children - I agree that it can be both a blessing and a burden, but bearing children is essential for humanity's continuity therefore we do celebrate those who have this ability and it is used many a time to discriminate against men: see family courts issues, for example. Societal conditioning and women victimhood - I abhorred this 2 ideas, wide spread between modern feminists and obviously not based in science. We are indeed shaped by all sort of factors including social norms and accepted behaviours but we are not tabula rasa and that has been demonstrated with the rise of genetics and neuroscience. The ever present idea of women as perpetual victims is beyond enraging. We are not all victims for goodness sake. We are not weak human beings that cannot change what is wrong around us or in us. We are perfectly able to think for ourselves and take matter into our own hands, the idea that feminist think otherwise is beyond diminishing and goes against what feminism is suppose to be about. To close a word a caution: it is commendable to try to speak for the voiceless but we should be careful in the process of doing it not to refuse the status of victim to certain people due to their skin colour, their status in society, their origin etc. I am thinking here in particular of the Grenfell Tower fire that's being repeatedly mentioned in association with words like "the poor". People from all walks of life lost their life in the fire, they are all victims regardless if they can be classed as poor(which is anyway arbitrary in this case, cause you can be poor even if you're not awarded social housing) or not! *Book from NetGalley with many thanks to the publisher.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ellie Kakoulli

    Wow. Honestly this book left me speechless. Mrs. Death Misses Death is a painfully honest and emotionally raw exploration of, well, death. Interweaving both prose and verse, Godden has crafted an incredibly poetic and poignant book that travels across various places, and time in an attempt to better understand our conflicting attitudes and emotions towards dying, grief and loss. Wolf Willeford is a ‘Biracial, Bisexual, Bigender and Bipolar’ character. They’re also a deeply tormented soul, haunted Wow. Honestly this book left me speechless. Mrs. Death Misses Death is a painfully honest and emotionally raw exploration of, well, death. Interweaving both prose and verse, Godden has crafted an incredibly poetic and poignant book that travels across various places, and time in an attempt to better understand our conflicting attitudes and emotions towards dying, grief and loss. Wolf Willeford is a ‘Biracial, Bisexual, Bigender and Bipolar’ character. They’re also a deeply tormented soul, haunted by their troubled past filled with death, disaster and loneliness. Death has always been constant lurking presence in their life, something they’ve always struggled to come to terms with. Enter Mrs. Death, a mysterious figure who one day decides she’s had enough. Like wolf Mrs. Death is also a fairly conflicted soul, desperately searching for someone to offload the immense burden that she carries. The two eventually begin to communicate with each other, thanks to the recent acquisition of an antique writing desk. Where Wolf begins to scribe the memoirs of Mrs. Death, in order for them both to make sense of everything that has happened and will happen in their lives. One of the MANY things I absolutely adored about this book, was how it focused on amplifying the voices of women. Particularly marginalised women, who are the ones most overlooked in society. Mrs. Death offers up a refreshing take on how we typically perceive the figure/voice of death, mainly being that of a man. “The greatest trick man played was making you believe I was man. They erased me and made you all believe that Death was a male in spirit- the Grim Reaper. For surely only she who bears it, she who gave you life, can be she who has the power to take it. And there is no human more invisible, more easily talked over, ignored, betrayed and easy to walk pass than a woman; than a poor old black woman.” GENIUS. Mental health is another key aspect that is integral to this book. The possibility of our narrator being bipolar is alluded to fairly early on, which does challenge the reliability of what’s being discussed between the two. Though I’d strongly challenge this notion. Yes, Wolf may be treading a fine line between madness and sanity, but aren't we all to some extent? With the unavoidable and relentless bombardment of news outlets and social media reporting on deaths around the world on an almost daily basis (especially now) is it any wonder Wolf is spiralling? Godden touchs not just on personal tragedies of Wolf’s own ‘run-ins’ with death, but also shines light on the many deaths that occur due to poverty, suicide, war and terrorism. As well as the abhorrent injustices and failings that come with living in an increasingly violent and discriminatory society -most notably touching on the easily avoidable deaths of Grenfell Tower and the Black Lives Matter movement. This is an extremely powerful and emotive book, but it’s also one that’s very unusual and therefore might not exactly be everyone’s cup of tea. Where the experimental structure works both for, and against itself. Personally I love the playfulness of weaving both prose and poetry, though at times I did find some stories and conversations were more gripping than others. There were a few passages in particular that felt disjointed and almost too repetitive in a way that I sometimes found myself drifting off a few times. Overall this is a book that is both dark and light, it’s as grim as it is hopeful. Godden reminds us that life and death go hand in hand. That without death, life wouldn't exist, and vice versa I guess. Though I think the true beauty of this book lies in its ending, no spoilers I promise! At the beginning wolf states: “this book does not mention every person that has ever died- if you wished this book to have mentioned another death, we can only apologise now in advance, for not knowing which death you wanted celebrated in this book...” However, with the last 6 pages left blank the author (wolf or Godden or Mrs.death herself?) allows you to rectify this. In an act of remembrance you are encouraged to write down the names of the ones you’ve personally loved and lost, in the hope that they will forever live on, and that when you pass, or if you allow others to borrow the book, they too could add their loved ones to this list of names -dead, but never ever forgotten. 4.5 stars

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    The premise of this book is in essence simple. Death is tired, battle weary and looking for rest. Death wants someone to listen to and tell their story. But Death is not who we might think they are. Death is not the skeletal, white male figure hanging around corners in a black hooded cloak. Death is a woman, a old black woman. Let that sink in. One of the most underrepresented, under estimated and discriminated against personas in history is responsible for ushering life out of this world. She po The premise of this book is in essence simple. Death is tired, battle weary and looking for rest. Death wants someone to listen to and tell their story. But Death is not who we might think they are. Death is not the skeletal, white male figure hanging around corners in a black hooded cloak. Death is a woman, a old black woman. Let that sink in. One of the most underrepresented, under estimated and discriminated against personas in history is responsible for ushering life out of this world. She possesses the ultimate power. And when we add in the fact that Mrs Death has a sister; a sister who holds the responsibility for birth and life, who takes control of the beginnings in the way her sister controls the endings, the sense of power grows, is all encompassing and overwhelming. These are two sisters in the ultimate symbiotic relationship, one bringing life into the world , one taking it away; making room for the next generation. And they are black. And they are female. And they are old. After years of carrying this responsibility Mrs Death needs a confidante, someone who she can unburden her own grief to. But who is equal to this unimaginable task? Who can take on the confessions, doubts and torments accumulated by years of ending lives? Chosen by Death herself is Wolf, at first glance an unlikely candidate. Wolf is a writer, struggling and troubled who has danced with Death before in a number of ways. But now the connection is cemented and as Wolf clings to life and sometimes sanity by the slimmest of margins, with Death’s own desk as the platform for their work, the two troubled souls begin a journey through the past, present and future. Through a work of complexity and richness, where we dance through a huge showcase of techniques and devices, each perfectly chosen, a whole range of subjects are explored. Here death itself is laid bare. Mrs Death is complex. She possesses compassion and humanity, alongside a finality and ruthlessness The text forces us into a simple confrontation of death. It forces us to consider how we reassess a life when death occurs, to understand the process of grief and the pain that accompanies it. And yet this work is more about more than Death. This is about life in all it’s glorious and terrible forms. This is a novel that challenges you to consider the wider human condition. To philosophise on the subjects of sex, gender, race. To look back in time at events we think we understand and see them with fresh eyes, to take a different perspective and challenge ourselves. To consider the endless cycle of life and death, of greed and consumption, of love and hate, of mental well-being and mental illness. To consider just how far we have come and have far we still have to go in all kinds of ways; in compassion, in kindness and in equality. As Wolf grapples with the huge questions and concepts that soar around and above us, that defy explanation and definition, we, as readers, grapple with them too. This book is the personification of writing as therapy. Through our potentially unreliable narrators we are taken on a complex, compelling and sometimes shifting journey. Filled with equal shares of humour and pathos this is a novel to be absorbed. A single reading will be delightful but not enough. This is a text for life, to be enjoyed but to be studied. To be embraced and then discussed. And never to be forgotten.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Philippa

    Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the writer for giving me this ARC of Mrs Death Misses Death. There is so much to admire in the novel – some of the language and the word play is beautiful and incredibly original. The character of Mrs Death is brilliant – why on earth has death not been characterised this way before? And the snippets of history are glorious. To say nothing of the spectacular title! The most special thing about this book though it the fact that it perfect captures the zeit Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the writer for giving me this ARC of Mrs Death Misses Death. There is so much to admire in the novel – some of the language and the word play is beautiful and incredibly original. The character of Mrs Death is brilliant – why on earth has death not been characterised this way before? And the snippets of history are glorious. To say nothing of the spectacular title! The most special thing about this book though it the fact that it perfect captures the zeitgeist of 2020 Great Britain and the world. This book is a dedication to the Black Lives Matter movement, and it is poignant and beautiful for that very reason. This novel explores the tragedy of both Grenfell and George Floyd – puts them front and centre and for that very reason this novel becomes vital. But you have to know about those epic failings of a dangerously discriminatory society to understand the references, making it subtle and (slightly) esoteric. The concept is simply brilliant: the idea of death being the most ignored of human beings, an old black woman rather than the man dressed in a black cloak with a scythe, and the fact that she ‘misses’ sometimes and allows people to live. The idea of a journalist interviewing the person who collects our souls is genius. And some of the ideas linked with this – the idea that Life and Death are sisters and that Time is their lover is rather lyrical, somehow almost mythical. Sometimes this feels like a myth retold, but because it is not there is even more charm. The problem is that concept over promises and then completely under delivers. I wonder what this book would have been like with a story! This is a novel that needs a plot and that is what it significantly misses. There is no ending, no resolution. Our suspension of disbelief is not destroyed but is severely disrupted by the end. Often there are elements of self-indulgence and in places, it almost reads as though it was written by a teenager. Another more serious issue that quite upset me was the use of real people: I don’t like the idea of murder victims and murderer’s actions being used for effect within fiction, I felt that was totally unnecessary as you could easily be inventive here but the use of real victims diminishes them. She alludes to Grenfell and George Floyd very successfully without mentioning them but fails to do so for others. There is much to admire here but somehow it falls a little short. I personally think it would be an excellent text for A level students to explore the language and how poetic effects are created and can see me using it in a classroom. It was certainly a book that interested me; I adored that it put BLM at the heart of the novel and that, in the end, is what makes it an important piece of work.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kate P

    Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for providing me an arc of this book for an honest review. This review DOES NOT contain any major spoilers, so if the review is vague at times, that is why. Before getting into this I think it’s important to explain that I don’t think I read this book at the right time as I wanted to read a less complex prose and poetry, meaning that my interest is was low. With that said that doesn’t take away from how beautifully written and composed this piece of work is. Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for providing me an arc of this book for an honest review. This review DOES NOT contain any major spoilers, so if the review is vague at times, that is why. Before getting into this I think it’s important to explain that I don’t think I read this book at the right time as I wanted to read a less complex prose and poetry, meaning that my interest is was low. With that said that doesn’t take away from how beautifully written and composed this piece of work is. For this reason I have two ratings: 2.5 stars for enjoyment 4.5 stars if I was to read and study this for university For this reason I am giving the book 3.5 stars (4 because I round up). What I liked: - Told with a mix of poetry and prose with interesting plot idea and the way it was told was different which I enjoyed. - The way this book got be to cherish those around me. After reading Wolfie’s first chapter I was nearly in tears. - Provoking - I liked the ‘on the nose commentary’ about global situations. One that kept appearing in my mind was Grenfell Tower and all the ways that that tragic incident could have been prevented. The novel also handles conversations surrounding race and gender very well and is very poignant. - My favourite chapter was “Mrs Dreath and The Doctor” (around 210pages in / 57%), I loved the way it was structured and that it was dialogue only, like a screenplay. What didn’t hit the mark for me: - I wasn’t griped / it couldn’t hold my attention. I think the changing between prose and poetry left me very confused at times as I didn’t understand what was happening. - I personally preferred the descriptive prose chapters compared to the others as they were more descriptive so I could see in my head what was going on. When there wasn’t any it really left me in the dark. On the whole an interested read as Godden explores race and gender in a fresh way! Godden’s imagination is top tier and they way the story is told is definitely niche! I’d recommend people reading it if they are looking for a new and fresh style, narrative, and ‘play’ on death!

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