Deadtown (Deadtown Series #1)

( 125 )


Read Nancy Holzner's posts on the Penguin Blog.

View our feature on Nancy Holzner’s Deadtown.

First in a brand new urban fantasy series that's "fresh and funny, with a great new take on zombies" (Karen Chance) and "full of dangerous magic and populated with characters so realistic, they almost jump off the page" (Ilona Andrews).

If you were undead, you'd be home by now...


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Read Nancy Holzner's posts on the Penguin Blog.

View our feature on Nancy Holzner’s Deadtown.

First in a brand new urban fantasy series that's "fresh and funny, with a great new take on zombies" (Karen Chance) and "full of dangerous magic and populated with characters so realistic, they almost jump off the page" (Ilona Andrews).

If you were undead, you'd be home by now...

They call it Deadtown: the city's quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its borders-but Victory Vaughn, Boston's only professional demon slayer, isn't exactly human.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Holzner’s fast-paced urban fantasy debut, shape-shifter Victory Vaughn fights demons in an alternate present-day Boston, where a few thousand people have been mysteriously zombified and are now confined to the neighborhood of Deadtown along with vampires, werewolves, and other “Paranormal Americans.” Vicky’s sometime boyfriend, Kane, a werewolf, lawyer, and PA rights advocate, gets some competition from human detective Daniel; teen zombie sidekick Tina occasionally wreaks unintentional havoc; and Vicky’s sister, Gwen, an inactive shape-shifter and suburban wife and mother, argues with Vicky over their life choices and attitudes toward shape-shifting in the most fully realized and emotionally compelling parts of the book. By comparison, the reveal of the big villain comes off as both predictable and a little cardboardy. This fun and facile tale would be a great beach read if it weren’t coming out in the middle of the winter. (Jan.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780441018130
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/29/2009
  • Series: Deadtown Series, #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 679,470
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy Holzner grew up in western Massachusetts with her nose stuck in a book. This meant that she tended to walk into things, wore glasses before she was out of elementary school, and forced her parents to institute a “no reading at the dinner table” rule. It was probably inevitable that she majored in English in college and then, because there were still a lot of books she wanted to read, continued her studies long enough to earn a masters degree and a Ph.D.

She began her career as a medievalist, then jumped off the tenure track to try some other things. Besides teaching English and philosophy, she's worked as a technical writer, freelance editor and instructional designer, college admissions counselor, and corporate trainer.

Nancy lives in upstate New York with her husband Steve, where they both work from home without getting on each others nerves. She enjoys visiting local wineries and listening obsessively to opera. There are still a lot of books she wants to read.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 125 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 125 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 18, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Good Read

    I suppose I should go into full detail of the book, but then it would take most of the fun out of reading it, and dispite it's faults, it is a fun read.
    The book takes place in a world where the "monsters" of the world have come out of the closet. Conviently at the same time a quicksilver disease caused the center of one city to die and be raised as zombies. The "monsters" are finding themselves in ghettoes with no rights beyond that of animals.
    For her personal life, I found myself completely unsympathetic to the zombie sidekick, wanting to pound her into the ground and leave her in the sun. Amused by the misunderstanding between her and the 2 men she finds herself attracted to. Her sister needs a good slap in the face. Her roommate is a sort of calm in the storm.
    The book starts out with a routine demon extermination and quickly snowballs from there. Reading the book I found myself wondering how she managed to do everything. Visiting with her sister and aunt, rescuing her neice, being cased by a geneticist with an evil plan, and beating her oldest most evil nemesis, not necessarily in any order and certainly not everything that goes on. After all we can't forget the 2 men.
    I found this book to be a fun rollercoaster ride, that kept me glued to the page until I finished.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 1, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    Phenomenal Start to a New Urban Fantasy!

    This book was highly entertaining and so hilarious at times, that I actually laughed-out-loud.

    Victory Vaughn is Boston's professional demon slayer, who also happens to be a shape shifter. For Vicky being the only professional demon slayer in Boston has it's perks. Since anyone can secretly conjure a personal demon and use them to wage an attack against their enemy; it means the competition's nonexistent and business is booming.

    In this reality paranormals are all out of the closet and demanding civil rights. Nancy Holzner has built a brazenly cruel and corky world where vampires are blood thirsty and cunning, werewolves are full of political ambition, shape shifters are amazingly gifted and zombies are mischievous and ravenous.

    The author did a fantastic job at giving us just a taste of sexual tension, a splash of political intrigue and loads of action, mystery and humor. The author begins the book by hitting the ground running and never slows down. 

    This book has been my most anticipated release for December and I wasn't disappointed.  In fact, the story captured my attention so thoroughly, I completely devoured it and couldn't put it down.

    I highly recommend this book to fellow dark urban fantasy readers and eagerly and impatiently await the sequel.

    Also checkout a short story prequel to Deadtown called, A Very Zombie New Year by Nancy Holzner on Book Obsessed.   bookobssessed DOT wordpress DOT com/2010/01/01/a-very-zombie-new-year-by-nancy-holzner/.  Since I can't post a link, if you can't follow my indirect link, go to the author's site and get the link from there.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 2, 2011

    Ms. Holzner, You Had Me at Circus

    The opening scene prepares the reader for a fantastic journey, and the rest of the book does not disappoint. I expected a great, action-packed adventure, something Urban Fantasy offers in spades. What I didn't expect, was to have such a richly developed world, I wanted to get involved with a fight for civil rights. I had to keep telling myself Paranormal Americans don't really exist. Holzner did such an unbelievably wonderful job of stealing me away, I stayed up way past my bedtime to read "just a little more." Between the mad crazy drama of a campaign ad gone horribly wrong, and the incredibly moving struggle Vicki, our heroine, endures for love, family, and her own flirtation with a burning evil inside her, there is no shortage of suspense. I wanted nothing more than to see Vicki triumph, no matter how difficult Tina, her zombie demon-slayer student, made it for her. Rarely does a book offer so much escapism for me. Thank goodness there's a sequel! Deadtown is Urban Fantasy at it's finest!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 27, 2010

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    Reviewed for

    Unlike a lot of urban fantasy Deadtown goes balls out when it comes to racial relations, depicting a world where parahumans have no civil rights and are forced to live in one area of town, to the point where they have to have permits to leave that area of town. The lead character is Victory Vaughn, the latest in a recent line of Welsh true shape shifters, and a demon hunter. When one of her clients is found dead Vicky realizes that the Hellion that killed her father is now hunting her. She has to balance her personal life, the scientist that wants to make her a lab rat and protect a client who by all right she should want dead and somehow also find it in herself to stop the demon she fears.
    Deadtown has all the makings of a good urban fantasy, but it falls flat in the execution. Most of the characters are either blah, or completely annoying. The world setting is very oppressive, but the plot doesn't revolve around making things better, the characters consistently make choices that are stupid, dangerous and even violent. It's hard to connect with the people in this tale, making it a lackluster example of urban fantasy. Deadtown is not without its charms, so collections that service voracious paranormal readers-or those with no taste for the full-on erotic scenes in other books-will still have a place for Deadtown in their collections.
    Contains: Violence, language

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 13, 2012

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    Review brought to you by OBS staff member Verushka

    On first glance, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book because of the zombie angle, but in truth, that particular part of this series gives it a unique, interesting element that Holzner is more than capable of using to wave a good book out of. Our protagonist, is Victory Vaughn; aka Vicky. She is a unique shapeshifter, a Cerddorion ( a Welsh descendent of Ceridwen) who can only shapeshift 3 times in a month. When we meet Vicky we see her fighting Drudes, demons that have invaded a client’s dreams and along with a remarkably annoying teenage-zombie sidekick called Tina, just about succeed in defeating these demons – that what Vicky does – if there’s a demon needing vanquishing, she is the one to call. And, as the the book progresses, it is her next client that lands her in trouble, as she tries to defeat the sorcerer who has been trying to harness the power of a Hellion, Difethwer the Destroyer. Vicky’s fight with this demon is personal, for he is the reason for her father’s death, and her part in that is what drives Vicky for revenge. The last is the avenue through which Vicky’s history and family are brought into the book the both of which prove to be a valuable strength in the author’s writing.

    This is a book that has a slow start; it is an information dump in essence, establishing Vicky, her history and her current relationships. This makes for a frustrating couple of chapters before I felt the book really took off and the strengths of the writer became apparent. There are some other what-the-hell moments in the book regarding Vicky’s behavior especially her logic in regards to her current boyfriend’s Kane’s actions. It struck me as out of left field and not very well set-up at all. Tina, the teenage zombie sidekick is mercifully not in the book too much, but just enough for her to be established as the sort of character that I would be glad to see the back of from Vicky’s life because she drags the story, and more importantly Vicky down.

    Deadtown provides a world where Paranormal Americans are a part of normal society, and with their presence comes a whole heap of societal problems, and a desire for rights, that Holzner is quite good at weaving into her tale. It’s far more political than I thought it would be, but I can appreciate the time and care which Holzner takes with this book enough to have it be the reason for getting her next book. Kane provides a valuable voice in establishing the problems with the society in the book. I am not expecting Vicky to be leading protest marches through Boston in the next book, but taking a more active interest in what is going on around her seems appropriate, otherwise I don’t understand the need for the political detail in the book, or Kane, for that matter. Her own work is what drags her into the political arena in this title, but I want to see her own interest in the politics of the world Holzner is building to take shape. I’m willing to see where that goes, but I do hope it goes somewhere, with her interest in the world at large growing with each book.

    So, that’s Deadtown; suffering a little from being the first book in a series and establishing everyone and everything, but on the whole worth persevering with for some brilliant worldbuilding, that will keep a reader riveted as to what’s coming next.

    See the FULL review and more at openbooksociety dot com

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A new MUST read author for me

    Fans of Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series and Chole Neill's Chicagoland Vampires series will want to check out Deadtown by Nancy Holzner. It has the same type of feel to it, the heroine, Victory Vaughn, is snarky and kick ass. Oh and she's a shifter that has a kind-of-sort-of boyfriend that's a werewolf. Her roommate is a vamp, Juliet, like as in Romeo and Juliet. She has a teenage zombie as a sidekick and she just happens to hunt demons.

    After a mutated plaque hit Boston, it turned some of the populace into zombies. Now a large part of Boston is called Deadtown and all non-humans are forced to live within that area. The non-humans are seen as monsters and don't have the same rights that the humans have.

    That's where Vicky's current smuggle bunny (um, werewolf) Kane comes in. Kane is a lawyer that is working towards getting the monsters civil rights. Vicky and Kane are both workaholics and Vicky thought that's what make them a great couple. Until she meets a human cop named Daniel. I smell a love triangle.

    A demon from Vicky's past shows up in Deadtown while she is working a job. She spends the bulk of the book trying to find a way to kill the demon while juggling her personal life with two gorgeous men after her and she has some family issues as well.

    Deadtown is Holzner's first novel but it doesn't show. She does an excellent job creating a magnificent heroine with a world that has great secondary characters. If you like a strong and independent heroine then you will love Vicky.

    The only thing that I didn't like about smut. But I can over look that. ;)

    I highly recommend Deadtown by Nancy Holzner to Urban Fantasy fans. I'm currently reading the second book, Hellforged and I have the third book on my shelf so that I can start it ASAP. Holzner has become an author to stalk, I mean to follow. She is now on my "must read" list.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 6, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    They Call It Deadtown

    I originally picked this book up because I had Nancy Holzner as a teacher when I was in High School in Lenox, Massachusetts. She was a fantastic teacher who allowed me to write a term paper on Contact by Carl Sagan, and also allowed our class to choose some of the books we would read in our curriculum that year (I, of course, being the tech nerd that I was, chose some short sci-fi stories by Alfred Bester). When I think back to what I learned in school, I think a lot of her class.

    A friend of mine pointed out that she had written this urban fantasy novel and I was just blown away by how awesome that was. I just had gone through the entire Bobbie Faye series by Toni McGee Causey and of course, the Vampire staple that is Sookie Stackhouse. Seeing as Deadtown was right up my alley, I picked it up and started to read it on the Commuter Rail in Boston when I was visiting another one of Nancy Holzner's old students. It was bizarre, as the Commuter Rail and Boston landmarks were often mentioned in the novel.

    Of course, the moment I picked the book up (about four days ago now), I wasn't really able to put it down. I loved the main character Victory and just couldn't get enough of paranormal area of Boston that Victory lived in.

    The story was so rich with characters and their life stories. In the book, for almost every corner you turned and everywhere that you looked, there was something to see, someone to learn about and some detail to pick up.

    I think I put off reading it because I knew it was a new series and I'd just die of anticipation, waiting for the next book to come out! And of course, I am about ready to explode and I only finished it the other day.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    entertaining urban fantasy

    The city leaders of Boston set up the ghetto Deadtown to isolate the nonhuman population. The prime cause for the need for this containment zone is the plague that haunted Beantown for several years when thousands died only top come back as intelligent zombies who enjoyed dining on still fresh human meat. Also isolated from mortals are other Paranormal Americans as the EEOC calls vampires, demons, and zombies though these once thought of supernatural species are much more difficult to restrain. Humans who do not have a death wish avoid Deadtown.

    In this undeadly zone, as the only known professional demon slayer Victory Vaughn is interrogated by the Goon Squad, officially called the Human-Paranormal Joint Task Force, over the frying of a client. Afterward she investigates assisted by her First Amendment rights lawyer boyfriend Kane the werewolf and her teenage zombie apprentice Tina; while her sister dormant shapeshifting wife and mother Gwen tells her to get a life. Making the official inquiry into the homicide is BPD Detective Daniel Costello. She believes the deadly hellion demon is free and must die before the city demises in a supernatural bloodbath.

    This is an entertaining urban fantasy that uses the sub-genre to satirize society re conflicting rights during a "crisis" as the atmosphere of Deadtown is a sort of prison ghetto makes the story line work. This feel is accentuated by suburban Gwen who conceals she is a shapeshifter from her neighbors to live in the burbs with her family rather than be locked inside the ghetto like the Jews in Eastern Europe prior to WWII. Although the villain is more a caricature than a flesh and blood (make that rotting flesh or blood drinker) abomination, fans will enjoy this exciting allegorical investigative thriller.

    Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 14, 2010

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    A new take on a familiar theme

    I read this book some time ago, and I haven't forgotten it. Ms. Holzner has managed a novel twist on a familiar fantasy theme. The story was fast-paced. Her characters were engaging. This is the first I've read of Ms. Holzner, but it seemed like a first (or at least early-in-the-career) attempt. Her style holds a LOT of promise. I really am looking forward to reading the maturation of her writing style as this series progresses. It's worth the investment of time and money, if you're looking for something a bit different.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 14, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    Fun, Fast And Fantastic

    This debut fantasy entertains with a combination of vivid characters, witty dialogue, amusing situations, a realistic paranormal world and lots of supernatural action. The narrative is told in the first-person perspective of a feisty, magic-wielding shapeshifter named Victory Vaughn. Vicky makes a living exterminating demons, (primarily with guns and sanctified blades), which range from pesky dream torturing 'drudes' to deadly 'hellions'. The supporting characters include a sorta-boyfriend werewolf attorney who's dedicated to securing full legal rights for all paranormals; a centuries-old vampiric roommate, (named Juliet), who loves to discuss the real story behind 'Romeo and Juliet' and lives to look good while securing nightly 'blood-bag' dates; a 'norm' police detective who loves to flirt; a surly, gangster-talking client who's constantly trying to fire Victory; a sister who wants to erase her shapeshifting heritage while embracing her stay-at-home motherhood; and, an amusing, tag-along teenage zombie who mucks-up just about everything she touches. Most of the action occurs in a present-day, alternative Boston which experienced a downtown plague resulting in thousands of zombified Bostonians, The zombies are both humanized and humorous as they try to lead ordinary lives despite board-like stiffness, superhuman strength, deteriorating flesh, red eyes, voracious appetites and occasional blood lust. The zombies, along with the other parnormals, (e.g., werewolves, vamps and Victory, as Boston's sole 'active' shapeshifter), are required to reside within that plague touched downtown area, which has been cordoned off and become known as "Deadtown." PAs must have a permit to leave Deadtown and some (especially the vamps) regularly visit the 'Combat Zone,' a sleazy, rundown border area where the 'norms' mingle with the monsters. The story-line involves Victory's efforts to confront and kill the 'hellion' demon (called the Destroyer) who murdered her father and threatens to destroy Boston. (The hellion appears to be have been conjured by a sorcerer who breached the witch charmed shield protecting the city.) The plot is fast-paced, twisting, and fun. The only conceivable flaws are the predictability of the sorcerer's identity and the lack of a 'shot-em-up' showdown between Victory and the Destroyer. Nonetheless, the climax is inventive, supernatural and surprising. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a humorous, fun-filled supernatural fantasy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    "Monsterchusetts" apparently is the locus of the supernatural civil rights movement.and one lone Cerddorian demon slayer

    If you are intrigued by a new paranormal world where zombies (oops Recently Deceased Humans) just want to be loved and treated equally, then you'll love Deadtown. Brilliantly funny and believable zombies, werewolves, vamps and other dark creatures of the night exist side by side in a sort of refugee camp outside of Boston separated by the New Combat Zone, a buffer between the norms and the paranormals (PR). A This class schism erupts after a plague breaks out in Boston and other cities and its citizens either die or are reanimated providing a whole new problem for the city government to deal with. In the wake of the plague, other paranormal residents who hid under cover of darkness come out to help with the cleanup. In Revealing themselves Holzner not only pens a great world but highlights supernatural class issues: zombies and other paranormals fighting for their civil rights in a world dominated by norms.

    The plucky heroine of the story is Victory Vaughn, a Cerddorion, a race of shapeshifters who can pretty much shift into anything. With a legacy stretching back to ancient Wales, Victory Vaughn's destiny is to eradicate demons despite being marked by one, while dating a werewolf PA (Paranormal American) rights lawyer and fighting her attraction to a golden haired cop. Now if she could only get her sword back from her zombie sidekick, then she could do some damage!

    Deadtown was a refreshing read, with plenty of laughs and animated secondary characters. A pleasure to read and I look forward to seeing more of Holzner in the future.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2014


    I really like her take on zombies and the supernatural community's struggle for acceptance really adds dimmension. Not just another creature feature book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2013

    Loved it

    To lazey to write big revew sorry

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 2011

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    Dont wast your time

    I did NOT like this book. It was a great idea and it could have been fantastic, however the characters were awful. I couldnt stand any of the characters. This could have been an amazing book but it was terrible. Dont wast your time.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2010

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    Posted January 17, 2010

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    Posted September 23, 2011

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    Posted July 29, 2010

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    Posted February 28, 2012

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    Posted June 4, 2011

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