Book Reviews

The Death of Mungo Blackwell by Lauren H. Brandenburg

I received a copy of this book from the publicist in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

If you’ve been following me for a while now, you’ll know just how much I love dark humour and quirky books. The fact that this book is about a family with extraordinary traditions such as holding funerals of people before they die jumped out to me. I just HAD to read it.

Goodreads synopsis:

The Death of Mungo Blackwell

‘We all need to know what’s missing in our lives. At a funeral someone stands and describes everything a person has accomplished in their life. But what if they missed something? What if there was one thing they never got to do? And what if they had a chance to go back and do it?’

The Blackwells are a family with an extraordinary history and astounding traditions, which include attending their own funerals before they die! Their ways are questionable and their stories about deceased relatives are as bold as their red hair, but it is their eclectic wares that keep tourists coming back to their market in the town of Coraloo. Charlie Price, whose world has come crumbling down after a lapse in judgement leaves him unemployed, finds himself flung into the chaotic world of the Blackwells when he relocates to Coraloo with his socialite wife, Velveteen, and shy son, Gideon. Here Charlie attempts to make a living as a ‘picker’, reselling under-priced items he picks up at the market. Some of the Blackwells welcome him with open arms, but others resent pickers and want him thrown out of the market. Charlie soon finds this new way of life under threat and his quest for simplicity seems to be crumbling. Perhaps it’s time for Charlie to have a funeral of his own! This charming story of hope will warm your heart and make your imagination soar.


Charlie and Velveteen Price along with their son Gideon had it all when they lived in the city. But when an unfortunate mishap leads to Charlie being fired from his job, the Prices decide to move to the countryside for a simpler life. Charlie, with his newfound self-employed job as an antiques and collectible picker, settles on Coraloo for its quirky market, owned by the extraordinary Blackwell family. How the Prices come to terms with their riches-to-rags story and also learn about friendship, family, and love along the way forms the rest of the story.

On reading the synopsis, I expected a quirky story focusing on the Blackwells–a little morbid and full of dark humour. However, The Death of Mungo Blackwell reads more like a Hallmark Christmas story, with a small dose dark humour thrown into the mix. This was a big let-down for me, more so because I went in expecting the book to be dark.

Setting aside the fact that the synopsis writes a check the story can’t cash, The Death of Mungo Blackwell is a pretty entertaining read. It has quite the interesting array of characters who are all unique and extraordinary in their own way. Some of them could have been fleshed out a little better, but overall, they were all able to carry the story forward smoothly.

Brandenburg has a powerful writing voice that’s strong and funny. One of my favourite moments from this book is “The Rooning”–the Prices name for a mini-meltdown Velveteen goes through involving her bookclub, a foreclosure agent, and a tray of macrons. Curious? Read the book to find out what it’s about! 😉

I expected the book to be more about the Blackwells but sadly, it wasn’t. The Blackwells are merely supporting characters in the Price show, with them teaching the latter all about life, love, family, and contentment. While I was disappointed about not getting what the synopsis seemed to imply, I found the book heartwarming nonetheless. It’s also quite genre-bending, so this book really is for everyone out there!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

~ Shruti

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3 thoughts on “The Death of Mungo Blackwell by Lauren H. Brandenburg

  1. Wow the synopsis looks so interesting? Like who the fuck has their own funeral before they die??? But the way you’re saying it was executed seems like a let down to me, despite the fact I haven’t read it. Got too many books to read so I’ll pass on this one.

    *shrug emoji*
    (cause I’m on my laptop)

    Liked by 1 person

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