Death & Sparkles series

Death & Sparkles is the first graphic novel series by Rob Justus who is one of the few authors who also illustrate. According to Justus, writing and illustrating can be very time-consuming, especially when writing a graphic novel. After a decade as a market researcher, he decided to follow his childhood passion of drawing and storytelling. DEATH & SPARKLES, his first graphic novel, won the Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award in 2023.


Book 1

By: Rob Justus

Published: October 5, 2001

Publisher: Chronicle Kids


Sparkles the Unicorn is uber famous. Think Taylor Swift- kind of famous. Everywhere she goes there are paparazzi following her and everyone wants her to use her products. In fact, when her manager wants her to throw out socks while careening through the air, she isn’t so sure that is something she really wants to do. But, does she have a choice?

Death is checking his to-do list for the day. All he has to do is make sure to touch the people on his list so he can complete the job. It’s a lonely job because, well, anything he touches dies. Butterfly. Gone. Ugly Duck. Gone. Greg the Spider. Gone. One day, when he checks his claims list he sees a surprising name on the list, Sparkles, the last unicorn. What? That can’t be!

This silly story puts two characters together in an unlikely friendship, Death and Sparkles the Unicorn. Sparkles isn’t ready to die and spends a bit of time in “the void” trying to figure out her next steps. While Death is getting a bad rap for killing Sparkles. But, Sparkles’ manager has already moved on to his new powerful, money-making superstars.

Even though this book makes light of death, it also hits on very important lessons relating to popularity, fame, and friendship. The graphic novel format makes for easy and enjoyable reading for reluctant readers. Most kids will likely find the antics of Death and Sparkles to be quite funny. As a grown-up reading it, I didn’t. But, this is the kind of book that can usually entice a reluctant reader to give reading a try.

When Death and Sparkles have to join together to save each other from a crowd of haters, chaos ensues. But, together, they can accomplish anything they put their mind to and maybe they can be friends after all.


Book 2

By: Rob Justus

Published: November 28, 2023

Publisher: Chronicle Kids


First of all, I am definitely not the audience for this graphic novel series. It’s a bit too weird and out of the norm for me. But, I’m sure there is an audience for this type of book. The second in this series was even more far-fetched and ridiculous for me.

Best friends for life…or death, Death and Sparkles are off on another adventure when Sparkles’ horn starts to glow. This journey leads them to the golden cupcake after Sparkles realizes it must have been left by her ancestors for her to find. It is all she has left of her family and will help her move into unicorn adulthood.

Besides Death and Sparkles, there is a whole other storyline that involves four moles. Eventually, their stories come together and more drama ensues. Since it is a graphic novel, there are few words and lots of illustrations that help tell the story. The illustrations follow the same style as in the first book in the series.

From pranks to an epic dance battle between a unicorn and four moles, reluctant readers will be easily entertained. Kids who like far-fetched stories or odd humor might like this new series.

Rob Justus is an award-winning market researcher and a self-taught debut author/illustrator who raised himself on a classic diet of comics and Saturday morning cartoons. His debut picture book, Kid Coach, was published in 2020; this is his first graphic novel series. Rob lives and doodles near Ottawa, Canada.

To purchase a copy of DEATH & SPARKLES BOOKS 1 AND 2, click the photos below:

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Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to make a purchase through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.
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