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The New York Times raves about Molly Molloy and the Angel of Death

For sheer defiance, you can’t beat Maria Vale’s MOLLY MOLLOY AND THE ANGEL OF DEATH (Sungrazer, 273 pp., paperback, $14.99) — a weird, adorable stunner of a romance.

Molly is no stranger to Death. He’s taken her parents, her first love, all her relatives. He absently pats her on the back when he shows up in her grandmother’s hospital room and she nearly chokes on an atomic chicken wing.

Only problem is: Molly was supposed to choke to death on that chicken wing, and now she and Death are at odds about whether or not she is meant to continue living. In the course of the argument they forge an unlikely friendship that sidles into profound love.

Molly Molloy and the Angel of Death New York Times review

And Vale turns this somewhat dark premise into an electric, positively slapstick delight. Rebellious, too — Molly has never in her life done what was expected of her. Death is equally terrible at obedience — he’s failed Veneration four times — so it’s no wonder their story pushes back against the rules imposed on it.

One of those rules is the all-important happy ending. It’s a rule romance readers passionately defend, mostly because so many are quick to want to tear it away. As though the bummers of the world are unknown to us, and we need to be instructed.

But rules made for rules’ sake become imprisoning, and sometimes we need romances, like Vale’s, that embrace the truth that we all love people who are bound to die. But this novel a paranormal, so that’s not the whole story. Sometimes the most direct way to defy death is to celebrate the life — and lusts — of the body.

You can read the review HERE.

A version of this article appears in print on Nov. 12, 2023, Page 7 of the Sunday Book Review with the headline: Power Players. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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