Review: “Dead Silence,” K.G. Reuss

Pros: Interesting characters
Cons: Genre-twisting
Rating: 4 out of 5

K.G. Reuss’s Dead Silence: A Dementon Academy of Magic Novel (The Everlasting Chronicles Book 1) introduces us to Everly (Ever), a high-school-aged girl who’s seeing things. When she was little and dealing with her father’s alcoholism and abuse, she used to see monsters and a strange Shadow who seemed to age as she did. Eventually things got better when her father left, but now she’s starting to see things again. When she’s hit by a car and more-or-less dies, her life is saved by the Shadow–but now she can see and hear dead things, and they aren’t friendly. When her behavior tips off her nurse mother, she ends up seeing Dr. Brighton, who seems to know more than he’s saying. The meds he puts her on help, but they aren’t enough. And when the monsters start attacking Ever, something’s going to have to break.

First of all: a content warning for attempted suicide and for attempted rape (attempting sex with someone who is seriously drunk). The beginning of the book feels like a horror novel. The creatures coming after Ever are scary and they seem to want her to join them. She’s pursued at home and in school, even though no one else can see or hear what she’s dealing with. Unfortunately, this excellent vibe is smacked down when the story turns into an urban fantasy with labeled supernaturals (Specials) and an academy they go to. It takes the delightful horror of the beginning and turns it mundane. Hopefully the horror vibe turns back up in later books, because that was the best part of this volume.

The characters are good and have depth. Ever is a bit of a bitter, sarcastic person; it’s understandable given her background. She deals with almost-death and seeing dead things very badly. There are definitely some uneasy scenes with her schoolmates that are difficult to read, in which she’s heavily embarrassed by what’s going on and how others are reacting to her. This material is written very well, and makes it easy to empathize with both Ever and her friends.

I’m not sure whether I want to read the next volume. I’m not really psyched about the idea of another magical academy book. If you are, and you also enjoy some horror, then this is probably the series for you.

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