Arc provided by Netgalley
A really interesting premise -- what if Death took a holiday, leaving mortally injured humans and animals to wander about chill and chilling to behold? This worked to great effect in Jose Saramago's Death with Interruptions (Death in human form was a she, in that one), and it holds up well here.
What didn't work for me was the people in this story. I learned a lot of specific detail about their clothing and their ancestry, but only vaguely and sometimes cliche-ly about them as people. The cast is wide, and predictable. A motley collection eventually coalesces around a sojourn to a Northern keep to present Death with potential "cobweb brides" so he will choose one and get back to work. Once they finally get there (in the last 50 pages of this story, which is first of a series) the meaning of "cobweb bride" is revealed and the true quest can begin.
For me, the story moves too slowly, despite the fact that I started skimming over repetitions of the clothing descriptions and character traits we'd already read in earlier chapters. The idea of Death's dilemma was intriguing, as are the conflicts among characters, including one teenage girl whose murderer becomes her traveling companion and another teenager whose name and story mirror the Persephone myth. But the actual action on the page is dull. I had to force myself to finish, and will not continue to Book 2.
Other things I noticed: The narration is understandably omniscient -- there are a lot of strands of story -- but not consistently so. The objective-description fairy-tale style is visually evocative, but I never felt close to any character; whenever they had a feeling or idea it was described, not shown or "lived." So for me, the big reveal at Death's keep did not resonate.
On the other hand, the story is full of lovely descriptions, and the ideas are worth a ponder. This is one of those stories where the excerpt is a good test: If you *love* it, you will enjoy the rest.