10 Books with Death as a Character | TheReviewGeek Recommends

Death has long been a fascinating and complex character in literature, and several authors have explored the concept of Death as a protagonist. Here are 10 books with Death as a character, putting the personified concept at the forefront of their narratives.


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is a haunting and powerful story set during World War II. Narrated by Death, the book follows Liesel Meminger, a young German girl who steals books to escape the harsh realities of her life. Amidst the devastation of war, Liesel forms a bond with her foster parents, her best friend Rudy, and a Jewish man hidden in their basement.

Zusak’s beautiful writing and unique narrative perspective make for a moving exploration of the power of words, the resilience of the human spirit, and the importance of love and compassion in the face of darkness.


A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore

A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore is a hilariously dark and irreverent novel that follows the misadventures of Charlie Asher, a meek man who discovers he has become Death’s personal emissary. As Death’s new apprentice, Charlie must collect the souls of the dead and protect them from sinister forces that seek to exploit their power.

With a cast of eccentric characters, including a seven-foot-tall woman and a two-thousand-year-old squirrel, Moore delivers his trademark wit and absurdity. Through a clever blend of supernatural comedy and genuine emotional depth, A Dirty Job explores themes of mortality, love, and the importance of finding meaning in life.


Mort by Terry Pratchett

Mort by Terry Pratchett is a hilarious and imaginative fantasy novel set in the Discworld universe. It follows the story of Mort, a young man who is taken on as an apprentice by Death himself. As Mort learns the ropes of being a grim reaper, he becomes increasingly unwilling to go along with the consequences of Death’s work, leading to unforeseen complications.

Pratchett’s wit and clever world-building make for a delightful read, while his exploration of themes like the nature of humanity and the inevitability of death gives the story a surprising amount of depth. Mort is a true classic of the genre and a must-read for any fans of humorous fantasy.


First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones is an addictive and witty urban fantasy novel. The story follows Charley Davidson, a spunky private investigator who also happens to be a grim reaper. Able to communicate with the dead, Charley uses her unique abilities to solve mysteries and help lost souls find closure.

With a sassy and irreverent voice, Jones weaves a compelling tale filled with humour, romance, and supernatural intrigue. Charley’s sharp wit and complex relationships, including her steamy connection with a mysterious entity named Reyes, make for a captivating read. First Grave on the Right is a thrilling introduction to a fun and engaging series.


Goddess of Spring by P.C. Cast

Goddess of Spring by P.C. Cast is a charming and romantic retelling of the myth of Hades and Persephone, set in modern times. Lina, the titular goddess of spring, is tasked with bringing life to the world every year. When the handsome and enigmatic Hades seeks her out for help with a personal problem, Lina finds herself falling for him despite her reservations.

Cast’s lush descriptions and vivid imagery bring the world of Greek mythology to life, while her exploration of themes like duty, love, and the power of hope makes for a satisfying read. Goddess of Spring is a fun and engaging romance with plenty of heart.


Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman

Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman is a captivating and poetic retelling of the myth of Eros and Psyche. In this lush and enchanting tale, Whitman explores the themes of love, beauty, and sacrifice. The story follows Psyche, a mortal girl who is so beautiful that she is worshipped as a new goddess, attracting the ire of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. As Psyche embarks on a perilous journey to win back the love of Eros, the god of love, she faces trials and tribulations that test her strength and devotion. Whitman’s exquisite writing style and rich world-building make Radiant Darkness a truly magical and unforgettable read.


Hades: Lord of the Dead by George O’Connor

Hades: Lord of the Dead by George O’Connor is an enthralling and visually stunning graphic novel that delves into the mythological realm of Greek gods and the underworld. As the fourth instalment in the Olympians series, this book focuses on Hades, the oft-misunderstood god of the dead. O’Connor’s artwork is vivid and expressive, while his storytelling captures the complexities of Hades’ character and the power struggles among the gods. With a blend of action, drama, and insightful commentary on the human condition, Hades: Lord of the Dead offers a fresh and compelling perspective on this often-neglected figure from Greek mythology.


On a Pale Horse by Piers Anthony

On a Pale Horse by Piers Anthony is a captivating and imaginative novel that blends elements of fantasy, philosophy, and humour. The story follows Zane, a down-on-his-luck man who finds himself accidentally taking on the role of Death. As Zane navigates the challenges of his new position and grapples with the implications of his newfound powers, he begins to question the very nature of life and death. Anthony’s whimsical writing style and inventive world-building make for a fun and engaging read, while his exploration of heavy themes like mortality and free will gives the book a deeper philosophical significance. On a Pale Horse is a must-read for fans of fantasy and metaphysics alike.


Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt

Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt is a hauntingly beautiful and deeply poignant tale of love, fate, and mortality. Set in medieval times, the story follows Keturah, a young and fearless maiden who becomes lost in the forest and finds herself face to face with Lord Death. In a desperate bid to save her own life, Keturah tells Death a captivating story that keeps him at bay, offering to tell him the ending only if he gives her an extra day of life.

Leavitt’s writing style and evocative descriptions create a mesmerizing atmosphere, while the exploration of themes such as the transient nature of life and the power of storytelling make this novel truly unforgettable. Keturah and Lord Death is a compelling and thought-provoking read that raises profound questions about the human experience.


Existence by Abbi Glines

Existence by Abbi Glines is a gripping young adult novel that expertly weaves together themes of love, destiny, and the afterlife. The story centres around Pagan Moore, a young girl who can see and communicate with spirits. When she encounters the enigmatic and alluring Death, her world is turned upside down. As their connection deepens, Pagan is faced with the ultimate choice: embrace her connection to Death or fight for a chance at a mortal life and true love. Glines’ writing is addictive and emotionally charged, immersing readers in a captivating supernatural romance that will keep them turning the pages until the very end.


These books offer a range of perspectives on Death as the protagonist, showcasing the diverse ways in which authors have explored this intriguing concept. Whether you’re drawn to fantasy or philosophical musings, these stories provide a fresh and thought-provoking take on life’s most certain end. Do you have any favourite books with Death as a character? Let us know in the comments below.


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