Book Review – Dead Set by Richard Kadrey

Posted March 13, 2014 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA / 8 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – Dead Set by Richard KadreyDead Set on October 29th 2013
Pages: 309
Format: Hardcover


After her father’s funeral, Zoe and her mother moved to the Big City to start over. But life’s not so easy, the money is tight, and a new school brings trials. Fortunately, she has an escape: her dreams. A world of freedom and solace removed from the loneliness and anxieties of real life, Zoe's dreamscape offers another, more precious, gift: It is the only place where she can spend time with her closest companion — her lost brother Valentine.

Yet something is very wrong. An unfamiliar — and uninvited — presence has entered her private realm to threaten Zoe and Valentine, a disturbing turn of events that is compounded by an impossible discovery. A chance encounter at a used record store where the grooves of the vinyl discs hold not music, but lost souls, has opened up a portal to the world of the restless dead. Now, the shop’s strange proprietor is offering Zoe the chance to commune with the father whose passing took a piece of her heart. The price? A lock of hair. Then a tooth. Then...

How far into this eerie world will Zoe go to discover what she truly needs? And once she does, will there be enough left of her to come back?

“Most people, even the ones we hold dear, are seldom what we think.”

Zoe is struggling to cope with the recent devastation of her father’s death. He left Zoe and her mother destitute and the two were forced to move into a small, dingy apartment to make ends meet. Zoe and her father both shared a love of music, of punk music, and when she stumbles upon a record store one day to browse the stacks she uncovers far more than she could have ever expected. The old records contain far more than classic music; they contain the contents of a persons very soul including Zoe’s father.

The most interesting aspect for me about Dead Set was the Egyptian lore that was incorporated into the story. Zoe travels to the underworld in order to see her father and they have a wonderful time together yet she doesn’t realize until after that she was only shown this peaceful place by her father in hopes that she would leave and never return. When she comes back and witnesses the horror of what truly goes on, Zoe refuses to leave her father in this hellish place. Queen Hecate is the moon-goddess that rules this nightmarish underworld, a place called Iphigene. Her children, enormous black dogs and black cobras, feed on the people forced to reside there. Iphigene is a terrifying and fearsome place when you consider these people are forced to remain there for all eternity.

Zoe’s character was troubled yet she remained spirited and was a fantastic main character. Her father’s death left her more devastated than we get to witness first-hand with the only reference being a rubber band she keeps on her wrist that she snaps as a reminder not to cut herself. At this point in the story she’s been able to overcome the damage she inflicts upon herself but while her wounds aren’t as deep they’re still not fully healed. Presented with this situation that her father is in she seeks to help him in anyway she can so as to assuage her own suffering.

Dead Set is an extremely violent and horrifying tale but was immensely entertaining. This is Kadrey’s first YA novel and my first read by him. His Sandman Slim series is widely touted and is definitely being added to my to be read pile.



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