Review of Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things by Martina McAtee

So I have been quiet with my reviews of late because I have been reading Children Shouldn’t play with Dead Things by Martina McAtee. Coming in around 500 pages (device depending) it’s not a light or quick read!  
We start by being introduced to 17 year old Ember, who has just lost her father.  She works in the local funeral home and spends more time with the dead than the living.  We are then introduced to Mace, sent to watch Ember but he has no idea why which irks him.  We then meet Kai and Tristin, Embers forgotten and estranged cousins.  All of them come together for an event that will change them forever, although for some it isn’t immediately clear to what degree.
Ember discovers that she is part of a family of Reapers, collectors of souls to help them cross to the other side.  She is brought to her cousin’s home, which she discovers is home to the Belladonna Wolf Pack, with the fiesty Isa as Alpha.  A home for strays of sorts from the human, Fae, reaper and shifter community.  They live and work together and for the most part all is well, until the gravity of Kai’s actions when he met Ember really come to fruition.  Strange things start happening, zombies are found roaming and everyone is keeping secrets from each other of varying magnitude.  Ember struggles to understand how she became so hidden from this world she finds herself in and everyone she meets has a different side of the tale to tell – none of them really ending particularly well.  One things for certain, Ember is powerful and her ability to control it comes from an unlikely source.
Whilst this is going on we have several relationships forming, again with varying degrees of success, but despite this being a YA PNR I didn’t find the romance aspect too much or out of context with the story.
So did I enjoy it?  I have mulled it over for a while and I have to say that I did, there were times that I really couldn’t put it down and I got completely immersed in the story but it took me some time to get there.  There are a lot of characters and chapters are from 4 different POV’s which took me some time to get my head round.  But I don’t mind multiple POV’s I think that they really help get every side of the story told, I just hate when there are so many characters that I can’t remember who everyone is from chapter to chapter.  I think that’s where my hesitance lies, I don’t like being pulled out of a story, which this did.
The story is full of twists and has clearly been well researched, the cover is beautiful and captivated me long before I had the time to read it and I love the little artistic flourish at the start of each chapter. The upside of such a long story is that you really feel invested in the characters, the slow burn romances, the heartbreak at lies that are told, the fear and emotion are all made more intense by the amount of time you spend getting to know them.

This is an amazing story, which is completely immersive, with fun and feisty characters who you can really identify with if you were ever the teenager who felt they were always on the outside looking in.  Not your typical High Schoolers for a not so typical world in an unexpectedly captivating read.

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