Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Take a Chance Challenge: Kill the Dead

kill the dead cover
Kill the Dead by Tanith Lee

I read this book to satisfy the third part of Jenner's Take a Chance Challenge at Find Your Next Book Here:

take chance challenge

Birth Year Book
Find a book that was published or copyrighted in the year of your birth. Read the book and write about it.

I was born in coughnineteeneightycough. I spent some time looking at the bestseller lists for that year, and almost decided to read a Sidney Sheldon novel, but I just couldn't do it. Then I was doing a search for Tanith Lee on for one reason or another, and I ran across Kill the Dead. Intriguing title, and it was written in 1980! Yay! I immediately decided to order it (from the library, since it is out of print) and read it for the challenge.

Tanith Lee is one my favorite authors. I admit that my reading of her books seriously stalled with Faces Under Water, but overall I consider her an absolutely brilliant writer who tells great stories and is always ambitious in her writing. I honestly don't know why she isn't as famous as Ursula K. le Guin or Charles de Lint (could it be the wtf covers?), but she deserves to be.

Kill the Dead takes place in some alternative land whose name is unknown. The back of the book makes it sound like it's a battle of wits between Parl Dro, a professional exorcist, and two witch sisters, one (or both?) of whom are ghosts; but that is not the case at all. The majority of the book is about Dro and a minstrel named Myal Lemyal, and their quest for Ghast Mortua, an infamous city of ghosts from which no Ghost Hunter has ever returned.

The ghosts, called deadalive, of this world are not like Caspar the Friendly Ghost; they are demons who feed off the living and can--and do--kill them, as well. They are extremely dangerous to hunt and kill; but Dro is a legendary exorcist and has never met a ghost who could kill him. Literally, most people don't even believe he exists. As he passes through a town on his way to Ghast, he encounters and minstrel of brilliant talents, both psychic and musical, and they form a quick bond despite Dro's reluctance.

This is a great book. I loved the characters, I loved learning about Parl Dro's past, and there wasn't a single dull moment in the book (at 170 pages, there better not be). These type of journey books can be a bit repetitive, but this one keep me interested through the whole thing and only got more interesting as the book continued. Also, there's a twist at the end--actually, two twists--that I didn't see coming at all. It was the kind of twist that makes you immediately want to flip to the beginning of the book and re-read it to see how it all plays out now that you know it (if I hadn't had to return the book to the library, I really would have done that).

Overall this was a satisfying, great read that I really enjoyed. I'm happy I got to read this book, since it has inspired me to start reading Tanith Lee again. I highly recommend it to those who love fantasy.

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