Dead Reign (T.A. Pratt)

Dead Reign is the third of the Marla Mason novels by T.A. Pratt.
Finished on 31.12.2016
[Here are my reviews of the other Marla Mason novels.]

Marla Mason should be worrying about the Founder’s Ball, the biggest social event for Felport that has to work or else risk the wrath of the founding fathers’ ghosts. But instead of working the social intricacies of the magical elite, Marla finds herself confronted by Death himself, in the newest incarnation. He was called by an aging necromancer and realized that Marla has a knife – that can cut through anything – that used to belong to one of the previous Deaths. And he wants it back. When Marla isn’t prepared to give it up, he banishes her from Felport and takes over the city. Now Marla has to find a way to get her city back. Fortunately, her right hand Rondeau is still there to help Marla out.

I really enjoy the Marla Mason books and Dead Reign was another strong entry in the series. I love the new spin on certain things Pratt manages, but mostly I just love Marla.

Death is quite the opponent to have. Which means two things for the storytelling: one, you have to make very clear why he doesn’t just kill Marla, as he could easily, and two, you have to have a good solution for beating Death that doesn’t include a sudden, inexplicable power surge on Marla’s part or absolute stupidity on Death’s part. On both counts, Pratt fares admirably and comes up with solutions that I would have never thought of, but that fit the story perfectly.

Marla continues to be a great character, but she is a little sidelined in this book as it focuses a little more on Rondeau. Since I like Rondeau, too, and he was in need of some character development, I didn’t mind that, though. To see him work together with Marla even without really communicating with her was pretty amazing and says a lot about their relationship.

Meanwhile Marla was joined by Pelham, who was a great, albeit tropey addition to her entourage. Foisted upon her by the Chamberlain (another awesome character I really wanted to learn more about), he becomes her manservant and then her friend. Although I do have my issues with the “but he really wants to serve so it’s okay” type of servant, I thought it was rather well-handled here.

Despite some issues here and there, there is really only one major complaint that I have: there are too few women in the book (and most of the series). Marla is almost exclusively surrounded by men and I want to see her interacting more with women. Especially since the women that do show up tend to be the most remarkable characters (have I mentioned how much I love the Bay Witch? No? Because I do).

But I guess that just means I have to continue reading the series to see if that happens. As long as Marla stays the bisexual, kick-ass, not-teenaged protagonist she is, that’s not much of a chore.

Summarizing: Extremely enjoyable.

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