Book Review: Keturah and Lord Death

So, I have my other Southern Gothic to review.

But I finished this five minutes ago. So I’m writing this one first. Because I am overcome.

And let me preface with: I don’t like fairy tales.


Keturah and Lord Death

  • Author: Martine Leavitt
  • Publisher: Front Street
  • Year: 2006
  • Shelved in: Teen fantasy? Possibly romance.
  • Genre vibe: Fantasy/fairy tale romance.
  • At a glance: Young Keturah has a brush with Death — literally. She meets young Lord Death in the forest, and tells him a story. It is a story of the truest love that can be. But, she says, I won’t tell you the ending unless you let me live for one more day. Death says alright, but you will die tomorrow unless you find this true love you speak of for yourself. Things unfold from there, requiring Keturah to find her true love and continue spinning tales for Death.

The Good Stuff

I don’t like fairy tales. I don’t like things in the style of a tale, like this book, I don’t like retellings, I barely like the actual Snow-White-Cinderella-Little-Mermaid-et-cetera tales.

But this book.

Maggie Stiefvater (hero, author, human being) recommended books for the holidays. And so, well, I thought, I must read some of these. Beware the Wild and Fiendish were already, wonder of wonders, on my book stack. (Good job, self, you are connected with your inner channeling-your-favorite-author spirit.)

But then I saw this one.

And, okay, really though, who can resist a story about Death’s personifications? It’s one of Teen Lit’s favorite things, and it’s always one that’s for a purpose and done so, so well. A personification of Death is one of the most poetic and bookishly-aesthetically pleasing things ever to happen to books. And this one doesn’t disappoint.

Keturah as well has got to be one of my favorite characters ever, and I don’t have many. She’s beautiful, strong willed, even headed, completely set in her story. I fell in love with her as easily as everyone else did.

Even the writing! Remember, I don’t like fairy tales, I don’t like the feel of them. This is a fairy-tale-feeling book, just by nature. But it is so beautiful. You can tell that the protagonist is a storyteller, and that the author herself is a master one. Every bit of prose is incredible. It’s like reading poetry, without having to phrase the stanzas as you go along.

Character arcs are astonishing as well, and the thing is only two hundred pages long. There’s development everywhere, every page. The setting is beautiful. So many things happen, but I was not once confused.

And the pacing. And the characterization. And the general writing finesse that Leavitt presents. The question of Keturah finding her true love is about half the story goal (along with continuing to rescue her town from Death with her clever ways) but all along the way, it’s never…worried about. Keturah doesn’t say anything in so many words, though she does procure a charm in order to help her find her true love. There’s showing everywhere, and very very clear character motivations from Keturah, and just…everything you could want.

It was…beautiful. Just beautiful.

I don’t have anything negative to say about it, I really don’t.


  • Rating: 5/5 stars
  • Recommended to: Everyone, although I guess if you don’t like any kind of fantasy at all or really didn’t like romances I wouldn’t tell you to read it.
  • Lasting impression: Warm, strong arms and a sharp heartbeat and the smile of your one true love.

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