The story is told from the perspective of Miscellaneous ‘Lanie’ Stones, daughter of an Executioner and an Assassin, and one of many interestingly named members of the Stones family, which includes Quick Fantastic Stones, Abandon Hope Stones, Delirious Stones, Unnatural “Natty” Stones and Irradiant “Grandpa Rad” Stones to name but a few…
Lanie is a fifteen year old necromancer in the first part of the book, learning her trade from the ghost of her grandfather who resides in the padlock of a sarcophagus. She also learns cooking from the family housekeeper, Goody Graves an extremely long dead and enormous revenant, who acts as a kind of replacement mother for her, since she never had very much to do with her actual mother. Lanie is allergic to violence and her sister Nita is extremely violent so she spends a lot of time hiding from her, or experiencing nosebleeds and copycat wounds.
The book is filled with amusing side notes of how people died, snippets of family history and is very detailed - which leads to it being a long and sometimes difficult book to tackle. The world of necromancy and the various religions and intertwining family politics are built with great care and detail and this strange family and the world in which they live becomes fully fleshed out the further we read.
One of my favourite episodes in the story was a scene where Lanie reanimates nine mouse skeletons and develops a macabre yet very cute relationship with them. They adore Lanie who brought them back to life with panthaumic energy during her High Fire Feast Day surge:
“As Lanie cradled those scampering handfuls to her breast, the mice curled their bony bodies against her, sweethearting love and devotion from out their very ribcages and tailbones, from every slender socket and delicate articulation, from each curve and knob and needle-like protuberance.”
Indeed she experiences more warmth and love from these undead mice during their short existence than she ever did from her family members.
Part 2 takes place 7 years later and Lanie's sister Nita has had a child with her kidnapped shapeshifting peregrine falcon/human guard who she has kept under her thrall. Raising the child has become Lanie’s responsibility and she takes her role seriously, trying to protect her from the expected retaliation from the Parliament of Rooks who Nita has been picking off one by one as decreed by her employer, Erralierra, The Blood Royal.
As I stated earlier, this book is like nothing I have read before - making it highly original and amazingly imaginative. If you like things that are a little off the wall I would recommend you give Saint Death's Daughter a try - you will not be disappointed!