Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that were published over a year ago. Not to mention those that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.
This week I’m looking back at Dead Set by Richard Kadrey, author of the Sandman Slim urban fantasy series. Dead Set is a stand alone young adult paranormal fantasy. I listened to the audiobook.
After her father’s death Zoe and her mother moved into a small apartment in a run down area of San Francisco. It’s tough for both of them, Zoe misses her father terribly, has become withdrawn and has conversations with her dream brother, Valentine. Her mother is struggling emotionally too and is worried about finances and how they’ll cope.
One day Zoe comes across an old record shop with a strange owner called Emmett. Emmett has a secret room where the vinyl records hold not music but the souls and lives of people who have died. Zoe’s father is there, Emmett lets her see him for a price…a lock of hair, maybe he’ll let her speak to her father for a tooth.
Zoe can’t refuse and is transported to Iphigene, the city of lost souls, ruled by Hecate and her ‘children’, creepy black dogs and scary snakes. She’s determined to see her father again but the record shop is closed and so in desperation she follows Emmett down the sewers and back into Iphigene.
Will Zoe find what she’s looking for and will she ever find her way back…Once Hecate discovers there’s a living soul in her kingdom all hell breaks loose.
A dark and menacing fantasy, quite disturbing and eerie in parts but nevertheless an intriguing story. I thought Richard Kadrey did a great job of capturing the teenage ‘voice’ of Zoe. From her grief and confused loneliness to the desperate attempts to get to her father, she carries the story and keeps the impetus going.
The writing is very expressive and detailed with an original storyline which begs the question, how far would you actually go to see and talk to a loved one again.
For all that, though, I didn’t really engage with the characters completely. I’m not sure if it was the narration. I’ve listened to Kate Rudd before and enjoyed her performance but somehow this narration didn’t do it for me. Maybe in this instance, the book might have been a better choice.
After her father’s funeral, Zoe moved to the big city with her mother to start over. But change always brings trials, and life in the city is not so easy. Money is tight, and Zoe’s only escape, as has always been the case, is in her dreams—a world apart from her troubled real life where she can spend time with her closest companion: her lost brother, Valentine.
But something or someone has entered their dreamworld uninvited. And a chance encounter at a used record store, where the vinyl holds not music but lost souls, has opened up a portal to the world of the restless dead. It’s here that the shop’s strange proprietor offers Zoe the chance to commune with her dead father. The price? A lock of hair. Then a tooth. Then . . .