What would you do if Death offered you an apprenticeship? That's the question Mort faces late one night. He's spent the entire day at the market with his father, hoping to have someone pick him as an apprentice, but no one has. Boys that would appear less desirable have even been picked! Mort is desperate, knowing that its what his father wants, so when Death comes along, he reluctantly takes the job!
Working for Death is a strange job. You would think that as an apprentice Mort would start learning the ropes (even if that sounds a little scary) but the first job Death has him do is mucking out the stables! That's not all that's strange about life in Death's abode. The whole land is just a wee bit off. Death did his best to create a landscape that would reflect what he sees on earth, but Death isn't very creative, and the main color scheme tends to be black.
He tried hard though to create a good land to live in. You see, Death has a daughter, and since she lives with him, he wanted her to have more than the dreary house to explore. Ysabelle and Mort don't get along very well at first, but by the end of the book they learn to work together.
Eventually Mort does begin to "learn the business," and Death even begins to send him out collecting on his own! That's when Mort gets into trouble. You see, it's not up to death to choose who lives or dies, it's simply his job to collect the souls, and when Mort decides to interfere and prevent a Princesses death, well all of history begins to change!