Review: Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn

Camille, a revolutionary’s daughter, leads a band of outcasts – a runaway girl, a deserter, an aristocrat in hiding. As the Battalion des Mortes they cheat death, saving those about to meet a bloody end at the blade of Madame La Guillotine. But their latest rescue is not what she seems. The girl’s no aristocrat, but her dark and disturbing powers means both the Royalists and the Revolutionaries want her. But who and what is she?

In these dangerous days, no one can be trusted, everyone is to be feared. As Camille learns the truth, she’s forced to choose between loyalty to those she loves and the future.

Rating: 2.5/5

Review

The concept behind Dangerous Remedy – assemble a ragtag bunch of outcasts in the middle of the French Revolution and then add magic – is a fun one, and I expect it will draw a lot of readers in. I did, in fact, have a lot of fun: the setting was fantastic and I loved all the little nods to history that were included. You don’t need a good knowledge of the French Revolution to follow this story, but there are lots of extra nuggets to enjoy if you do.

Additionally, the dialogue made me laugh out loud at several points, though it occasionally did veer past funny and into unrealistic and cheesy. The queer rep (including the explicit bi rep) was also great, and it was nice to read a historical novel that didn’t constantly dwell on how hard it was to be queer at this point in time.

Unfortunately, the execution of this idea could have benefited from some more work. This book races through each plot point, changing direction as quickly as the French Revolution itself often did, and there was often no time to reflect on what had just happened or to fully engage with the characters’ reactions. Various characters’ backstories were hinted at but never really fleshed out, and I found it really hard to connect with any of the main characters on more than a superficial level. Additionally, while this is marketed as fantasy, this often felt more like straight up historical fiction. Olympe – the girl our intrepid squad rescues – has magical abilities that mean she’s wanted by every high ranking law enforcement officer in Paris. However; the exploration of why Olympe has such powers or what they could be used for never really goes beyond the superficial, and I would have liked to see more of the characters investigating her strange talents and trying to understand them.

Overall, while Dangerous Remedy showed plenty of promise, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations and, with so many books out there to enjoy, I’m unlikely to personally pick up the sequel.

Note: I received an ARC from Zephyr. Dangerous Remedy is available from 5 May.

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