Book Review: The Undertaker’s Assistant by Amanda Skenandore

“She’d always found children loud and squirmy and, often as not, smelly. But at least they spoke straight. They laughed when they were happy and cried when they were in pain. You never had to second-guess their motives or scrutinize their expressions.”

Amanda Skenandore, The Undertaker’s Assistant

Title: The Undertaker’s Assistant
Author: Amanda Skenandore
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
Pages: 304 (Kindle)
Published: July 30th, 2019

My Rating: ★★★½
Read: 10/14/2022 – 10/21/2022


As far as I can remember, this is the first book I’ve read that focuses specifically on a time surrounding the Civil War (at least since I was a kid). I’m not sure why I haven’t gravitated to this time period before because it was such an intriguing time in American history.

Effie had managed to escape slavery during the war. Having lived with an army surgeon’s family during that time, she honed her skills and her tolerance for blood and grief. When she returns to New Orleans, she finds work as an embalmer. However, being a freedwoman doesn’t mean her life is easy and free of prejudice. The fight for civil rights and dignity has only just begun.

I was hooked on the story for the first ten chapters or so. From there, more plot points were introduced and there was a lot going on at once. I didn’t dislike it, I only thought the book would solely (or largely) focus on Effie’s work in the mortuary. The other parts of the story were interesting to read and Effie is a darling protagonist, there was just a lot going on in a relatively short book. I would love to see this as a series.

Likes & Dislikes:

What I liked:

  • The time it was set. As I mentioned, this isn’t an era I typically read (at least not when it’s set in America).
  • Effie. I loved her determination right off the bat.

What I didn’t like:

  • The story started abruptly. It wasn’t terrible because I don’t always have the attention span for a lengthy lead-in, but a little context would have been preferable.
  • Too many plot points. The book is just over 300 pages. Each of these could have been their own books or part of them.


This was a total spur-of-the-moment read thanks to a KindleUnlimited recommendation. Though I lost interest toward the end, I enjoyed it in general. I’d read something by this author again.

Where to buy the book:

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: