DiscoverUrban Fantasy

Death by Miracle


Must read 🏆

Queer representation, expertly-researched myth and history, and a compelling, morally complex plot driven and populated by badass women!

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness. It's been a while since a book completely swallowed me up, and a LONG time since I've been so giddily, happily in love with a setting, plot and set of characters. Death by Miracle's biggest flaw is that the synopsis and marketing for the book aren't selling it, but that's what reviewers are here for. So here's all the reasons I absolutely adored this book.

First off, the worldbuilding in Death by Miracle is absolutely magnificent. There's an art to avoiding infodumps while still making a populated world that feels just as big as our own, and Brown nails it. Whether it's casual mentions of the multiple afterlives (afterlifes?), the range of personal names used by minor characters, the references to the Roman Mob, or the Lakota pushing back against Aztec dominion, every bit of history, politics and language in this book is imbued with research, meaning and consideration. Brown even makes a point of prefacing his glossary with an explanation of the balancing act between original/local names and more accessible names, the latter usually being imposed by colonial forces. The gods and godborn are so well integrated into the setting, but not just that - the changes they would make to the world are followed through, a daunting task that must have taken a long, long time to write.

A world without characters, though, is just a setting for a tabletop campaign. Sophia Akerele is a Black bisexual police detective given the opportunity to become a Fury and right some of the wrongs in the world. Of course, she accepts. Caelistra is her grouchy, older Fury partner. But my favourite is Ixtele Tinaalto, a professor of thaumaturgy originally from Maya, with a deft sense of humour and a gushing enthusiasm that spills off the page.

I could go on and on, but to get to the point: if you like mythic and/or urban fantasy, worldbuilding that actively works against colonialism, and imaginative takes on modern gods, pick up Death by Miracle. You won't regret it.

(A few trigger warnings, for those who need them: It's fairly violent, includes character deaths, and while it's not explicitly called this, one character is in an emotionally abusive relationship with another that both he and the narrative are clearly very uncomfortable with. This is by no means a complete list, but it hits some of the big ones.)

Reviewed by

I enjoy reading new books and fiction, and have a fresh, unique perspective as a Canadian queer disabled person.

About the author

Fowler has been writing fantasy and science fiction from a very young age. He's come a long way since those early days, in at least one respect: he's stopped trying to use crayons to make his own art. view profile

Published on November 17, 2019

90000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Reviewed by