Published  October 3, 2023 by Tor Nightfire B estselling authors Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey have teamed up to deliver a dark new stor...

Review || The Dead Take the A Train by Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey

Published October 3, 2023 by Tor Nightfire

Bestselling authors Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey have teamed up to deliver a dark new story with magic, monsters, and mayhem, perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and Joe Hill.

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.
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Had I done anything but see Khaw and Kadrey and gone ooo shiny, I may not have picked this one up.  However, to my surprise, this magic and mayhem mash-up was most engrossing. Kadrey had long solidified his place as one of my favorite urban fantasy series with Sandman Slim. Khaw is hit or miss for me due to their wordsmithing. While it can be lovely, it's often overwhelming due to their more obscure vocabulary. Their prose comes in large mouthfuls that have to be chewed methodically but there's no denying that absolutely no one writes like Khaw. I wondered how exactly the two styles could possibly mesh seamlessly but somehow they did. 

Any good read starts with good characters and the protagonist Julie is an absolute fucking delight. I use that word because writing a review about this book without at least one f-bomb would not be doing justice to the chaotic mess that is Julie. She's snarky, hilarious, and totally off the cuff but when I say she's a mess, she is a MESS. Between the moments she spends being a badass, she's loading herself on whatever she can get, whether that's booze or pills. 

Julie's chaos only adds to that of this book. Urban fantasy heavy on gore with a twist of eldritch horror, The Dead Take The A Train is a bizarre mash-up of genres that probably should not work, like the two authors in questions, yet somehow do. Kadrey has always been on the gritty side of UF and with Khaw's influence taking that completely over the top to the dark side of horror, this is an unconventional pairing that I'm excited to see again in the future.

Gruesomely overflowing with both the grotesque and irreverent, this neon nightmare fuel will have the least tryptophobic of us seeing holes (and eyes, lots of freaking eyes) everywhere. I picked this one up as an audiobook and Natalie Naudus was a fantastic narrator.