V1i3: The 5 Best Death Novels

At least one is very disturbing.

Long Room Library at Trinity College Dublin — Public Domain

1. “Sabriel” by Garth Nix

Do you love foreign, magical worlds? ME TOO. This young adult novel follows Sabriel who is a good necromancer, called the Abhorsen, who puts people raised from the dead back to rest. Nix creates a fascinating version of death that parallels the underworld in the Inanna/Ereshkigal descent myth. Sabriel has to traverse both death and life to rescue her father who has been trapped by a powerful “denizen of the dead.”

2. “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman

Who better than the dead to give the living tips on how to achieve a life-well-lived? This “children's” book and Newbery-Award-winning novel follows Nobody (Bod) Owens who is a child raised in a cemetery by the ghosts of those buried there. Neil Gaiman uses this unique intersection between life and death to give poignant insights on how to live a fulfilling life.

3. “Jitterbug Perfume” by Tom Robbins

Want the recipe for immortality? Read this book to get your answer. Follow the characters through India, New Orleans, Paris and Seattle on their quest for eternal life and the perfect perfume. BONUS: Learn how Gods die.

4. “Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonnegut

For those of you who haven’t already read (or been forced, by some educational institution or parent, to read) this book, prepare for a particularly Sisyphean perspective on death. The novel centers around the Dresden firebombing in World War II and there are aliens, so prepare for both of those things too.

5. “Perfume: the Story of a Murderer” by Patrick Süskind

Want gruesome murders, motivated by really strange reasons? Here ya go. The main character has no personal scent, but is gifted with a superhuman sense of smell. He spends his life smelling Paris and learning how to make perfume. Then one day he smells the perfect smell— it’s a virgin girl, duh. Interesting and weird things then happen. It’s all disturbing and fascinating.

Want The BCD’s 5 Most Helpful Death Resources? Click HERE.