Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn
|Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn
|Reviewer: Nigethan Sathiyalingam
|Summary: A richly imagined historical romp with exceedingly fun banter and queer representation seamlessly sewn in.
|Date: May 2020
It's Paris, 1794. The Revolution is five years old and the country in the midst of violent political turmoil between the Revolutionaries, trying to maintain their control by whatever means necessary, and the Royalists, still loyal to monarchy intent. Caught in a no man's land between the two warring factions is the Battalion of the Dead. Led by a disillusioned revolutionary's daughter, the band of outcasts have made a name for themselves rescuing innocent citizens from the violent fallout. But they may have gotten in over their heads with their latest rescue, Olympe, a girl with a disturbing history and powers that might just make her the spark that blows up the powder-keg of revolutionary Paris.
I should start by saying that Kat Dunn is a friend of mine. Part of the wonder of reading Dangerous Remedy was seeing the end product of what was just a nascent idea when she pitched it to me back when we first met in the queue to YALC, almost 4 years ago. But even without that history, there was no way I'd have been able to put the book down after the first fifty pages manage to cram in a hot air balloon, multiple explosions and almost being drowned to death as part of a thrilling prison-break. From the moment we meet Olympe, found ominously sewn into her clothing with a locked metal cage around her head, there's a tingling magical science vibe that only had me even more hooked.
Despite going in with only a bare-bones knowledge of the French Revolution, I found myself very quickly absorbed in the fascinatingly messy set-up of libertarian idealism gone wrong. The writing is lavish and richly evocative of a restless country, teetering between exultation and protest.
Wonderfully diverse and effortlessly memorable, the characters of the battalion carry the heart of the story. There's a gorgeous queer romance at the centre of it, but that's just one of a variety of brilliantly rendered relationships within the battalion, all brought to life by consistently sharp and entertaining dialogue. The vulnerability of the characters only made me fall for them even more. The aura of the Battalion is constantly weighed down by a sense of doubt about whether they're doing the right thing. They aren't blessed with incredible physical strength or acrobatics or easy to wield powers. Instead, it's their resourcefulness and teamwork, along with a willingness to act in the face of injustice, that pull their heists together despite the odds.
At a time when the power of stories to transport us beyond our homes has never been so important, Dangerous Remedy is an easy recommendation for those looking to escape into a highly enjoyable historical YA romp with a sprinkle of fantasy.
Thank you to the lovely publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag!
I felt definite Six of Crows vibes, which is no bad thing, given that the duology is one of my favourite YA fantasies of recent years. For those looking for more beautifully rendered 18th century world-building, Gideon the Cutpurse by Linda Buckley-Archer is an old favourite with an enormously fun time travel angle.
You can read more book reviews or buy Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn at Amazon.com.
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