Review: Death’s Country by R. M. Romero

Death's Country by R. M. Romero

Death’s Country
R. M. Romero
PeachTree Teen
Published May 7, 2024

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Death’s Country

Hadestown meets “Orpheus and Eurydice” when two Miami teens travel to the underworld to retrieve their girlfriend’s soul.

Andres Santos of São Paulo was all swinging fists and firecracker fury, a foot soldier in the war between his parents. Until he drowned in the Tietê River… and made a bargain with Death for a new life. A year later, his parents have relocated the family to Miami, but their promises of a fresh start quickly dissolve in the summer heat. 

Instead of fists, Andres now uses music to escape his parents’ battles. While wandering Miami Beach, he meets two photographer Renee, a blaze of fire, and dancer Liora, a ray of sunshine. The three become a polyamorous triad, happy, despite how no one understands their relationship. But when a car accident leaves Liora in a coma, Andres and Renee are shattered. 

Then Renee proposes a radical She and Andres must go into the underworld to retrieve their girlfriend’s spirit and reunite it with her body—before it’s too late. Their search takes them to the City of the dead, where painters bleed color, songs grow flowers, and regretful souls will do anything to forget their lives on earth. But finding Liora’s spirit is only the first step in returning to the living world. Because when Andres drowned, he left a part of himself in the underworld—a part he’s in no hurry to meet again. But it is eager to be reunited with him… 

In verse as vibrant as the Miami skyline, critically acclaimed author R.M. Romero has crafted a masterpiece of magical realism and an openhearted ode to the nature of healing.

Death's Country on Goodreads

My Review

I’ve read two other novels in verse by R. M. Romero before, and I love the way she brings scenes to life with such spare, haunting words. The same powerful storytelling fills the pages of Death’s Country as well.

I felt like the story was a little slow to begin, maybe because so much of the beginning feels like a setup for the real conflict in the book. The story drew me in for sure, especially the descriptions of the City filled with the souls of the dead. I love the boy who calls himself Virgil whom Andres and Renee meet there.

The story centers around three people who are in a polyamorous romantic relationship. Andres joins the relationship that already exists between Liora and Renee, and the three discuss what it means to be in a relationship, explaining that love can’t be limited and offering each other the chance to try loving one another this way.

The story reminded me a lot of Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera, which I really enjoyed. If you’re looking for another “Orpheus and Eurydice” story reimagined, I recommend that one as well.

Death's Country on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Andres is Brazilian and Cuban. Renee and Liora are in a romantic relationship with each other and then with Andres.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between two girls. Kissing between a boy and girl. Representation of a polyamorous relationship.

Spiritual Content
Andres meets Death after drowning. She gives him his life back, removes his debilitating anger, and warns him that in fairness, because she took something he hates, she’ll return to take something he loves.

Renee and Andres journey to the Underworld hoping to find Liora and return her to the land of the living. They meet other departed souls.

Violent Content
Andres fights another boy, breaking his jaw.

Brief reference to a possible eating disorder.

Drug Content

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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