One of these women is Percy (short for Persephone), a largely unremarkable and overlooked middle daughter, who is notable for her ability to see shadows of death. Percy starts the book as a lumpen, plodding sort of girl but really grows in confidence and wit as the book progresses. I found I really liked Percy by the end of it, and I love the fact that she's so easy to relate to - she's no Bella-esque Mary Sue character.
The book follows other characters, such as the Infanta, a sixteen year old frail princess from the imperial court, a trio of aristocratic fops (who, in my head, talk like the actors on Made in Chelsea), and a knight whose father won't die after a bloody massacre goes wrong in Death's absence from duty. It's all highly inventive, including the fact that the populace risk starving to death since anything killed or harvested after Death goes on strike returns to a state of life, making it inedible. My only criticism regarding the characters are their names - some characters are introduced, and only used once, making it difficult to keep track of a cast with long names, some of whom aren't even essential to the plot.
Other reviews have noted that it takes far too long for the action to begin, and I'd be inclined to agree. Much of the first third or so of the book could be revealed through dialogue later in the story, or cut altogether, and I really didn't need a lengthy description of the life and love of Persephone's grandmother before anything even happens. It feels in places as though Nazarian is feeling her way into the story, and with hindsight this could be condensed. However, once the action gets started, it's very difficult to put the book down, and I found myself flying through it, eager to know what happened next. Luckily there's enough potential in the first third to have kept me reading because I thoroughly enjoyed the remaining two thirds!
I'll definitely be buying book two in the trilogy...
Four blunt pencils!
You can get Cobweb Bride for Kindle from Amazon US, or Amazon UK, as well as on Smashwords. Paperbacks are also available.