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Sunday 9 August 2020
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Dead Boys review

Dead Boys jacket


Dead Boys
Paperback 288 pgs.
Talos Press
On Sale March 15th


Jacob Campbell is a preservationist, a thriving position when you dwell in the Underworld. For a decade, Jacob has kept himself and his clients patched together, staving off the forces of entropy, helping the dead look just a little more alive, at least for a little while. But in the Land of the Dead, where the currency is time itself and there is little for corpses to do but drink, thieve, and gamble eternity away, Jacob abandons his home and his fortune for an opportunity to meet the man who cheated the rules of life and death entirely.According to legend, the Living Man is the only adventurer to ever cross into the underworld without dying first. It’s rumored he met his end somewhere in the labyrinth of pubs beneath Dead City’s streets, disappearing without a trace. Now Jacob’s vow to find the Living Man and follow him back to the land of the living sends him on a perilous journey through an underworld where the only certainty is decay.Accompanying him along the way are two men from very different lives both who have been claimed by death. Remington, an innocent looking boy with mysterious powers over the bones of the dead, and the hanged man Leopold l’Eclair, a flamboyant rogue whose criminal ambitions spark the undesired attention of the shadowy ruler known as the Magnate.

From the first page to the last, Gabriel Squalia has created quite a page turner. Who would of thought a story about the dead (not necessarily zombies) would be bursting with such creativity and imagery as to tease your imagination with the possibility the Underworld could exist? The Underworld which encompasses Dead City, is rich with eerie, dark, and sometimes gruesome images. However this isn’t a a gory story and I’ll admit at first, I was a little fooled by the title. But as I quickly became engrossed in Dead Boys, I was pleasantly surprised.
The story begins with a detailed description of a mound of trash known as Southheap. We soon learn that over the course of several years, it’s growth was due to the river Lethe. Through Gabriel’s description of the Lethe, one could almost smell the noxious odors and visualize the mix of refuse and corpses as they drifted past.
Turning for a moment to the character development, Squailia has created a fine balance by bringing the dead back to life. Although some of the characters are in different stages of decay it’s easy to draw comparisons to the living. They’re ripe with intriguing personalities, mannerisms, and conflicts. Yes, you read that correctly.The dead still have conflicts. And that brings up a interesting plot twist.
Take the main character Jacob Campbell for example. Jacob has a career, yet he’s deviated from his responsibilities as a preservationist to embark on a quest to find the mysterious Living Man who may have ventured in to what is referred to as the Lands Above,or the human world. Then we have the young boy Remington and the one they call Ma Kicks who looks after Remington. Joining Jacob in his quest is Leopold l’Eclair. Now here’s a character that Jacob has to keep an eye on. Although all of our beloved characters are dead, they carry on as of they were still alive…each one full of purpose and resolve.

The story moves along at a good pace. Like I mentioned in the beginning of the review, it’s a page turner. It’s not a horror story in the sense of mutant beasts, ravenous psychotic killers, or supernatural entities.(not that those are bad mind you) Dead Boys has its own unique chemistry of dark/creepy images, purpose, and suspense.Throw in a splash of humor here and there, and you have Dead Boys.

So does Jacob find the Living Man? Does he travel to the Lands Above? The answers await you in Dead Boys.
I could probably go on an on about Dead Boys. It was a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the characters develop in a world which parallels our living one. I’m looking forward to a sequel and would recommend this any fan of the horror genre.

In short, “Dead Boys was a dreadful delight. A must read for any horror enthusiast.

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