ARC Review: "Molly Molloy and the Angel of Death" by Maria Vale

Molly Molloy and the Angel of Death by Maria Vale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Summary from GoodReads

Death needs a do-over.

Azrael---grim reaper and devourer of worlds--has messed up. Instead of taking Molly Molloy's soul, he patted her on the back and saved her from choking on an atomic chicken wing.

Now she can see him. Talk to him. Touch him. Say ‘no’ to him. And make him question the assumptions he has held for an eternity.

Molly is sick of Death capsizing her life. He'd taken her parents, then her grandparents, then her first great love.

Now, just as she was on the verge of getting her life together with a job that paid enough and a NYC apartment that didn't cost too much, Death interferes again in ways she could never have imagined.

The Powers that Be want Azrael to fix his mistake but before he can, Death makes one more.

He falls in love.



I received an e-ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

It is no secret that I loved Maria Vale's books. Her series Legends of all Wolves is a must-read that brings together our love for the paranormal but with the sensitivity and deep love for nature as also romance.

This book gave me great vibes of "Meet Joe Black" and "The Ghost".
Molly Molloy and the Angel of Death was quite the wild ride. I knew that I just wanted to read it, despite the premise which always makes me cry because anything metaphysical always hits that spot in my heart that knows....that we don't know anything about the after.

Death is...not exactly an angel but a being beyond time and creation itself who has been demoted into gathering the souls of mortals...which he so drily pulls from the bodies he calls Rags, and sends them...Upstairs. I loved the sarcastic way he does the job? Like a public sector worker who just does the routine and finds no satisfaction in anything anymore.

And then when he goes to pull the soul of a Molloy, he realizes that he can be seen and that the woman whom he should he taken the soul is still alive.
Molly Molloy lives her life, without actually living, filled with grief and a dry sense of humor which was born of circumstances of pain and loss. When she realizes who and what Death is, a strange companionship will bloom between them, one that will defy the powers of...Upstairs.

There is a lot of emotion to unpack here. From the way, Molly slowly and surely integrates Death into human life to Death's understanding of how precious life is, despite being short for humans. It's almost comely how often he acts like a child or a teenager with his behavior and Molly is the one being the adult in the relationship. Additionally, I found the description of how Upstairs looks like quite hilarious, the combination of Latin for their rules and the idea that souls are connected to the human body through the omphalos (greek word for bellybutton-also an ancient mythological belief-) was a nice touch.

The ending had me crying but as Death adjusts to change, you slowly realize that his story never ends, and love can come and find him again through endless time.

This was one of the best books of 2023 for me and I totally recommend it.


About the author:

Maria Vale is a journalist who has worked for Publishers Weekly, Glamour, Redbook and the Philadelphia Inquirer. She's a double-Rita finalist whose books have been listed by Amazon, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, ALA Booklist & Kirkus among their Best Books of the Year. Trained as a medievalist, she persists in trying to shoehorn the language of Beowulf into things that don't really need it.