Deadtown / Nancy Holzner
Based on the title, cover art, and promotional quote on the cover* (something about “a great new take on zombies”) I thought Deadtown was going to be a zombie apocalypse book. I was wrong.
It’s actually a transparent, heavy-handed civil rights metaphor.
*Yes prescriptivists, it should be a “quotation” not a “quote” because one is a noun and the other is a verb but 1) this is my blog and I do what I want 2) linguistic prescriptivism is really just the slavish devotion to a static form of an evolving language at some arbitrary point in the past that even then didn’t reflect English as she is spoke and finally 3) my academic background is heavily built around Classical Chinese which doesn’t distinguish between nouns and verbs so that has influenced my English to some extent
Deadtown is a bük abowt a Welsh shapeshifter hu hunts demons (done taking a stand on the linguistics issue now). Set in a World where Supernatural Creatures live openly but have almost no civil rights and are forced to live in a ghetto called Deadtown, Victory must balance her boyfriend’s civil rights campaign, shepherding the world’s most irresponsible zombie, and saving all of Boston from the demon what killed her father.
So how is it?
Heavy handed but not terrible.
The civil rights metaphor lacks the unfortunate implications of the social aspects of the Golgotham series, but it’s not handled with much subtlety or class. Like, in comparison X-Men is a masterwork of subtle social criticism. If you’ve seen the DystopianYA twitter (and if you haven’t, go check it out it’s amazing), the metaphor isn’t any less heavy handed here. Sometimes it ends up seriously stretching the willing suspension of disbelief (police refuse to prevent the kidnapping of a young girl who looks human, has no supernatural powers, and who is genetically indistinguishable from a normal human, all because there’s a possibility that she might not be human).
Other than that it’s not bad. I was interested enough to check out the sequel. The zombies really aren’t that unique as far as urban fantasy goes despite the cover’s claims, but it’s not a “zombie” book. The action is competent and Victory is a decent character, although her continued support of her apprentice in the face of her constant life-threatening failures to exercise the slightest but of judgment and her continued relationship with urban fantasy’s worst “Bad Boyfriend who is only there until the real love interest shows up and who will stick around long enough to force the protagonist to choose between the jerk with no redeeming qualities and the one she’ll end up choosing”.
It’s perfectly serviceable but flawed enough that it’s not something I’m likely to recommend. Maybe as a last ditch recommendation for a genre fan who has already read everything else but that’s it. The Elemental Assassin series (horrible name aside) does pretty much everything this series does but better (aside from being set in Boston) so I’d recommend those for somebody looking for a more action packed series, or the Edie Spence books for somebody interested in the “let’s stick all the Universal monsters in one book” schtick. I’d recommend the InCryptid series before any of the above though.