Series: Carrion City #1
Published by Tor Nightfire (10.3.2023)
Genres: Adult, Horror
Format: Audiobook, 400 pages
Length: 12 hours, 59 minutes
Narrator: Natalie Naudus
Source: From Publisher, I own it
Julie Crews is a coked-up, burnt-out thirty-something who packs a lot of magic into her small body. She’s been trying to establish herself in the NYC magic scene, and she’ll work the most gruesome gigs to claw her way to the top.
Julie is desperate for a quick career boost to break the dead-end grind, but her pleas draw the attention of an eldritch god who is hungry for revenge. Her power grab sets off a deadly chain of events that puts her closest friends – and the entire world – directly in the path of annihilation.
The first explosive adventure in the Carrion City Duology, The Dead Take the A Train fuses Khaw’s cosmic horror and Kadrey’s gritty fantasy into a full-throttle thrill ride straight into New York’s magical underbelly.
If I could use one word to describe this book, it would be….gross.
But like, in the most delightful way possible! (If you like gory stuff, that is. If you don’t, this book is absolutely not for you.) I love really dark disturbing shit, so this one was right up my alley! I loved how grotesque and gruesome this book was. I knew in the first chapter I was going to love that part of the story. And love it I did! So many scenes had me all
I’m sure other drivers on the highway were wondering about all the crazy and disgusted faces I was making when I was listening to the audiobook in the car! This book grossed me TF out and I was 100% here for it! (Although I do NOT recommend eating while reading/listening because I had a snack right before an extremely graphic scene and immediately regretted it lmaooo)
The demons and monsters in this book were fucking superb. The Proctor (a tentacle-y demon) who was basically an overlord in HR of a murderous monster regulating company, a creepy cosmic god that eats people, a not-angel celestial carrion demon that was basically maggots in a skin suit that stole people’s skins…it was all terrifyingly awesome and unlike anything I’ve ever read before!
Unfortunately though, the characters fell kinda flat for me. I did like Julie as a main character, because she was fucked up but relatable for her flaws. She was a substance abuser, scraping by financially (because she spent her money on drugs instead of rent) and was extremely self destructive. To be honest she was actually a rather terrible person, but relatable because she knows she’s flawed and makes mistakes, and despite the fact that she wants to do better she couldn’t help but continue on the path of self destruction. She never stood down from a fight when things got hard, though. No matter what, she persevered, and was (totally sassy about it).
Other than Julie, I didn’t particularly like any of the characters or connect to them at all. Tyler was awful (he’s meant to be, but still), which made it hard to read from his perspective. Sarah had the personality of a wet rag, which made it hard to connect to the romance. It was also already established – Sarah and Julie were best friends that had been in love with each other for a long time – and I personally am not a fan of off-the-page-developing romances. It doesn’t give me a chance to become invested in the relationship. I also found it to be lacking chemistry and thought it quite ridiculous that they kept saying obvious things about liking one another (“she’s my type” literally) and somehow they didn’t know each others’ feelings for one another?? It was completely unnecessary and seemed like it was solely to add tension, like a blown-out-of-proportion miscommunication trope. Not my cuppa, sorry. It just made me want to bash their heads together.
I was also pretty pissed at the ending. View Spoiler »I was really hoping the authors would take the unpopular route of killing off the main character, but even when it happened I knew it wouldn’t stick. I didn’t even bat an eyelash when Julie slit her own throat to kill the not-angel because I was just waiting for her to come back. And she did. There had BETTER be consequences in the next book. « Hide Spoiler
Overall, I loved the cosmic and body horror as well as the gore, but felt pretty meh about the characters and the romance. I didn’t love it, but it was a fun read and I still want to see where things go in the next book since there were a couple of loose threads left hanging.
Thank you so much to Tor Nightfire for sending me a finished copy of the book! I ended up using a credit to get it on Audible because I wanted to listen to it on my trip. Natalie Naudus did a fantastic job narrating!
Writing style: 4/5
Overall rating: 3.5/5