After her father's death, Zoe and her mother move to an apartment in the city. Only in her dreams, where she meets with her imaginary brother, Valentine, does Zoe feel comfortable—until the day she discovers a nameless shop that sells vinyl records. The owner takes an interest in her and shows her his special discs: "records" of the lives of people who have died, including Zoe's father. He agrees to let Zoe view her father's life for a small price—a lock of her hair. To see more, he demands a tooth and then asks even more. Zoe is an engaging protagonist, and her struggles to find herself are universal, even if her means of doing so are unusual. VERDICT The author of the Sandman Slim novels (Sandman Slim; Devil Said Bang) has crafted an intelligent stand-alone tale of quiet horror that should appeal to his many fans as well as to lovers of more subtle shivers. [See Prepub Alert, 5/13/13.]
Sixteen-year-old Zoe, grieving the death of her father, is miserable in a new home and a new school as her mother struggles to make ends meet. Zoe’s father taught her to be a fan of classic punk bands, and the music is her one connection to him and to her fellow students. Then Ammut, a mysterious record store owner, promises he can reunite Zoe with her father’s spirit. Soon Zoe finds herself in Iphigene, a city full of souls trapped on their way to the afterlife, as she’s guided by the ghost of her dead brother on a quest to free her father’s soul and return to the world of the living. Aiming for a mythic story about grief and loss, Kadrey (the Sandman Slim series) hits some extremely familiar beats, but he does it with an easy grace. Nothing about this book is unexpected or surprising, but perhaps it doesn’t need to be. This bittersweet and elegiac fantasy will appeal to both fantasy fans and mainstream readers. Agent: Ginger Clark, Curtis Brown. (Nov.)
A tender, if terrifying, story of a lost teenager trying to find her way.
Kadrey again has painted a world that draws you in with its mysterious, yet frightening, beauty…The imagery is just phenomenal.
If punk and underworld mythology got into the mosh pit, it would come out something like this book; spiky and pretty with lashings of black eyeliner and its heart tattooed on its sleeve.
A dark and eerie world, a razor sharp plot, and a heroine worth rooting for make DEAD SET unforgettable.
A fantastic supernatural horror novel with deep punk roots ... Kadrey’s underworld is a gloomy mirror of the overworld with all its injustice and broken dreams, and Zoe’s battle with her fear and her honorable spirit put her in enough jeopardy for six novels.
At sixteen, Zoe's world comes crashing down unexpectedly. Her father dies of a heart attack, and because of legal complications surrounding his assets, Zoe and her mother are left financially stranded. They are forced to leave their idyllic country home and move to the rough streets of San Francisco, where Zoe's new school is just down the street from a strip club, drug paraphernalia is sold in the local convenience store, and a creepy man follows her to school every morning. In this strange new world of grief and urban life, Zoe finds solace in her new biology class with Mr. Danvers, and in watching documentaries about ancient Egypt. When she stumbles across an old shop with a sign that reads, "Ammut Records. Rare, Used, & Lost," it is the first in a series of events that lead Zoe on a journey to meet with the lost souls of her past one last time. Her encounter with the record shop owner reveals a dark world where some records do not hold music, but the souls of dead people. In exchange for a lock of hair and some baby teeth, Zoe is offered the opportunity to see her father. She must follow the shop owner to Iphigene, the underworld ruled by Queen Hecate. There, Zoe's strength is tested and readers will root for their grieving heroine. Reality and mythology collide in the first young adult novel by Kadrey, whose dark, gritty style is reminiscent of Neil Gaiman. Zoe, the gothic offspring of former punk rocker parents, is the unsuspecting heroine merely attempting to seek refuge in the wake of her father's death. Fans of dark fantasy will truly appreciate Kadrey's contribution to the spooky genre. Reviewer: Lindsay Grattan
Known for writing quirky supernatural-themed books, Kadrey's latest offering doesn't stray far from the formula cherished by his readers. Zoe's having a bad time: Her father died and left the teen and her mom almost destitute. They've moved into a fourth-floor walk-up in a sketchy neighborhood, Mom's trying to get back into the job market after many years, and Zoe isn't crazy about her new high school, where the only person with whom she's made friends is a girl who calls herself Absynthe. Then Zoe wanders into a store selling rare old vinyl records. Her parents were heavily involved in the early punk music scene, and she's grown up with a huge library of LPs, but this store has something besides ordinary music in it. Zoe stumbles upon a room that holds some odd-looking records and a weird machine that the creepy and strange looking proprietor says can help her connect with her dead father. When Zoe opts in, she finds that the proprietor demands an odd sort of payment each time she visits: He instructs her to bring parts of herself ranging from a lock of hair to a tooth to blood. And while that gives her pause, she also finds that the peculiar dreams she has always had are not what they seem, and the long road to finding her dead father leads to a nightmarish place where bad things happen. While the tale's both well-crafted and imaginative, it's not going to be every reader's cup of tea, although fans of zombie novels may find the author's take on the dead unique. Zoe and her family present themselves as sympathetic and interesting, but the storyline is unsettling, and the ending seems both rushed and tacked on, like the author ran out of steam in the final third of the book and just decided to get it over with. The writing is top-notch, but for many, the book will prove an acquired taste.