Middle-Grade Review: Embassy of the Dead- Destiny Calling By Will Mabbitt

 

About This Book:

 

Jake Green and his friends have managed to save the world from the followers of Fenris twice now, which should be more than enough. But Jake, Cora, and Sab are suddenly given a new, secret mission. It seems one last would-be traitor is still hidden in the world of the Embassy, and it’s up to Jake and his friends to take care of him—permanently. All the signs point to Jake being the Chosen One for this dangerous task, especially since he’s armed with the ancient, Eternal Void–summoning tooth he found on his last trip to the Afterworld. But the more time the three friends spend on their dubious quest, the more Jake wonders if he’s better off making his own destiny. The latest adventure in this fast and funny series delivers plenty of chills, twists, and heart.

 

*Review Contributed By Mark Buxton, Staff Reviewer*

 

Choosing your own destiny

 

What worked:
Jake is the main character and he’s assisted by a ghost named Cora. Jake’s an Undoer and is tasked with helping the deceased move on to the Afterworld. Cora adds a bit of humor to the story as she attaches nicknames to Jake and his friend Sab along with an air of superiority. She thinks Jake can’t function without her around although she doesn’t have a physical presence among the living. Sab has only recently started seeing ghosts but his ability seems to be getting stronger. The Embassy of the Dead is finally taking notice of him which I assume means he’ll have an expanded role in the future.
The author creates tension in several ways to keep readers engaged. Jake and Sab are summoned to the Embassy of the Dead but they need to leave their bodies to get there. They each carry a ticket that counts down the time they have left before their bodies will die leaving them stranded in the Underworld forever. Their empty, immobile bodies are left in Jake’s kitchen where his mother might freak out if she discovers them. Also, demons and spirits have existed together in the Underworld for years but hostility against demons is growing. Jake’s concerns grow when he’s declared the Chosen One and tasked with killing the last follower of Fenris. Suspicions should be peaked since main characters rarely commit premeditated murder.
There’s more going on behind the events presented but readers will need to figure out what. As mentioned, having a main character go on a mission to murder someone is a stark contrast to Jake’s personality and defies the rules of middle-grade literature. The opening scene describes two sisters, one a ghost and one a human, sneaking into Jake’s house with the intent to kill him. At that point in the book, readers can only wonder why they want him dead. Jake first encounters his target and future victim when he arrives at the Embassy of the Dead. He can’t understand why he’s supposed to kill a boy who seems adored by everyone there. Nevertheless, the weapon Jake carries compels him to complete his mission.
What didn’t work as well:
I feel like it will be a big advantage to read the preceding books first, which I have not done. Jake and his friends live with the Embassy of the Dead culture and expectations and that can’t be fully grasped by reading this book alone. As I’ve said in the past, my concerns can easily be resolved by starting with the first book, surprisingly called Embassy of the Dead.
The Final Verdict:
The author blends interesting characters and a mysterious plot to create an entertaining story. It’s probably best to read the previous books but this one can still be enjoyed by itself. I recommend you give it a shot.

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