I got a copy of this book through Netgalley(dot)com to review. I have really enjoyed Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series, so I was excited to read a young adult book by him. This was an excellent and creepy read and I really enjoyed it.
Zoe and her mother have moved to the Big City after her father’s death. Things are tough, her mother can’t find work and Zoe is having trouble fitting in at school. Zoe’s only escape are her dreams, where she travels to a different place and visits with her lost brother Valentine. Then Zoe discovers a strange record shop. There the store keeper shows her a record of her father’s soul and allows her to watch it for the price of a lock of hair. Then for the price of a tooth she can actually visit her father in the realm of Iphigene. But as the price gets steeper and Zoe get more and more drawn into Iphigene, the question becomes will she ever escape this dark and deadly alternate world?
This is a very creepy book. The whole idea of a person’s soul being trapped on a record and of the creepy shop keeper asking for parts of Zoe for payment is eerie. The land of Iphigene is even more so. Iphigene is haunted by hungry trapped souls and ruled by Hecate, an evil witch of a character.
Zoe is an interesting character. She has a history of self-inflicted wounds (she was a cutter and struggles with this still) and misses her dad horribly. She is driven by the idea that finding her dad will somehow fix everything even though he is dead. She is also haunted by the dreams of Valentine, a brother she never actually knew. At times in the book Zoe is teetering on the edge of insanity and becomes extremely desperate and reckless.
Zoe’s mother and father are intriguing. They are both very sad characters, but you can tell they love each other and Zoe a lot. They are the epitome of a lot of adults out there. They made decisions in life that they thought were the best decisions to make at the time, but ultimately those decisions made them leave some dream behind and made them very unhappy.
Valentine is fascinating. He is the unborn brother of Zoe and really never got a chance to live in the real world. However, he’s been in Iphigene for a large portion of his life. He has served as a companion and confidant for Zoe throughout her life and now as she journeys to Iphigene he serves as a guide.
The story is fast-paced but not as gritty as the Sandman Slim series, it is definitely more of a young adult novel. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot of edginess here and some disturbing stuff. The way Hecate’s children feed on the lost souls is extremely disturbing. The way Zoe is hunted down by the evil shopkeeper and Hecate is also very creepy. So this is a very darkly creative and intriguing story, just not as violent as the Sandman Slim series.
There is an interesting mystery to be solved here. Zoe has to figure out what Iphigene is and escape it before Hecate can capture Zoe and take over her body. It is definitely a fast-paced and engaging read and I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed that there is a lot of mythology, especially Egyptian mythology, woven into the story.
Overall I liked this book a lot. It was interesting to read a young adult book by Kadrey, he did a good job of making a darkly creative story that was edgy and creepy but still young adult. I enjoyed the complex characters, the absolutely wonderfully dark and creative world of Iphigene, and the fast pace of the story. If you are a fan of Kadrey I definitely recommend you check this book out. If you are a fan of dark and creepy supernatural stories I think you would like this as well.