Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Dead I Know” as Want to Read:
The Dead I Know
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Dead I Know

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,280 ratings  ·  236 reviews
Aaron Rowe walks in his sleep and haunted by dreams he can’t explain and memories he can’t recover. Death doesn’t scare him—his new job with a funeral director may even be his salvation. But if he doesn’t discover the truth about his hidden past soon, he may fall asleep one night and never wake up. In this dark and witty psychological drama about survival, Aaron finds that ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published May 1st 2011 by Allen & Unwin
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Dead I Know, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Liz It reads like something I would have been required to read for school in 6th grade. So I'd say even younger than 14.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,280 ratings  ·  236 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Dead I Know
Dec 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
First of all, the cover pictured here is MUCH better than the one on the ARC, which shows a well-dressed young man relaxing on a coffin top holding a single red flower - which almost implies a romance within, which there isn't...

This is a dark and humorous story about a young man, disturbed by incidents from his past, ignoring the problems of his present - sleepwalking, insomnia, nightmares, and strange turn in his life from being taken care of by Mam to taking care of her as she slides into dem
Oct 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Dead I Know is a gripping, emotional rollercoaster of a book. The story centres around Aaron Rowe, who has left school to train as a funeral director with John Barton, owner and operator of JKB Funerals. Aaron lives with his Mam in a caravan. Mam is not mentally sound and it makes Aaron's life very difficult, especially because he loves her so much. Their relationship is a complicated one and, without slipping in a spoiler, not what I expected.

Aaron sleepwalks, having nightmares that seem li
Steven R. McEvoy
Five years ago when I read a book I always had a pencil in my hand and made notes and grabbed quotes as I read. As I have been reading more and more electronically, now when I do read a physical book I find I just have lost that habit. But this book was so compelling that I stopped on a number of occasions to write down quotes to share with others. This is the first of Scot Gardner's books to be released in Canada. It was an amazing read. I literally read it in less than 24 hours and could not s ...more
Feb 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Favourite Quote: There was the unknown, the dark, the cold and the emptiness to contend with out there, but those concepts are all relative. Cold compared to what? A dead hand? Dark compared to what? Unblinking eyes? At times the ocean seemed full beside my emptiness. At times it was the one knowable thing in my world.

The Dead I Know is a story that comes together like pieces of a puzzle. It is dark, mysterious and refreshingly different read.

This story is so different from what I expected but i
Jun 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
This review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.

I had no idea what to think of The Dead I Know before -- or even as -- I started. All I knew is that it was a recent Aussie release, and that was good enough for me. Though, by the end, I was pleasantly surprised.

There's a lot of mystery shrouding Aaron in the beginning. He's stoic, and initially doesn't give much away through either his dialogue or first-person narration. We understand him better once we get a look at his home life, and s
Kirsty Murray
Jun 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. This book is beautifully written, fantastically structured and utterly compelling. I couldn't put it down. Scot Gardner's writing just keeps getting better and better.

A recent spate of YA novels with intensely unpleasant teenage male protagonists had made me almost wary of picking up yet another novel about a seventeen year old male but Gardner's protagonist Aaron Rowe is a compassionate, honourable, complex and deeply endearing character.
Powerful, haunting, and absolutely unforgettable, The Dead I Know is not Scot Gardner's first novel, or even the first one to win him recognition, but it's the first one of his books published in Canada, and one that you simply can't afford to miss. It's a tour-the-force examination of the always difficult subject of death, grief and coping with the loss of a loved one. Above all, though, it's a heart-wrenching insight into one boy's tragic life and a deeply affecting, thought-provoking and unse ...more
Michele Harrod
Jan 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Wow, I really enjoyed this book, what a fabulous new voice, with a unique and surprising tale. It was hard to remind myself that this was intended as a Teen Novel. Despite the lead character being one, I never felt that I wasn't reading a serious adult novel. As someone who herself applied to work as a coronary assistant at the age of 16 and was turned away due to my age, I was fascinated with Aaron's ability to face the dead, and his feelings around them. This book was quite different to what I ...more
A finished copy was provided by the publisher for review.

I didn’t know what to expect from this one. I actually thought it was about a medium (someone who speaks to the dead), but I was wrong. The description is very simple yet it shows there’s something more than what is on the surface. Aaron being a funeral director in training is correct. What I didn’t expect was the truth that finally came out in the end.

Aaron’s nightmares are vivid and scary..Violent and morbid. I couldn’t understand what i
Feb 07, 2015 rated it did not like it
I was expecting this book to be somewhat like Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. Not in the way that I thought this book would be a love story or a zombie book but in the way that I thought it would be dark like Warm Bodies in exploring death but also in a twisted like hearted way. I got none of this from the fourteen chapters that I read. That is all I could make myself read. I was hoping it would get better as the story went along and Aaron got more familiar with his job. Yet I found it boring and d ...more
Tom O’Connell
Aug 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was drawn to 'The Dead I Know' because of its thematic similarities to Six Feet Under. Also, it was a required class read. 'The Dead I Know' details the ins and outs of a working funeral home. But the procedural stuff [about funeral homes] was really just superficial padding, an intriguing backdrop to frame a strong, intimate narrative. It's not like this stuff wasn't interesting, though, and I do admit that it acted as a springboard on more than one occasion (laying the book's major themes ou ...more
E.H. Alger
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read Scot Gardner’s first two books, One Dead Seagull and White Ute Dreaming, some years ago and loved them. I always intended to read more of his work, but for some reason never did. Then last year he attended my local literary festival (I’m a committee member so I might have had something to do with that); he proved a wonderfully intelligent and thoughtful speaker and I was excited to purchase a bundle of his books.
They were all marvellous reads; all thoughtful, intelligent, economically tol
Melissa Chung
Mar 03, 2015 rated it liked it
I don't know how I feel about this book so I'm giving it a 3.5 stars. I really felt for Aaron. I really liked Skye. But the book was kind of slow moving.

Aaron Rowe is a sleepwalker. He also has recurring nightmares that cause his sleepwalking. He lives in a trailer park with Mam and he is a funeral director in training. That is a lot to go on.

We meet Aaron at the funeral home. He is timid and shy and aims to please. He really wants to be there. John Barton is the funeral director, Aaron's boss.
Mar 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
With the rave review on the jacket I was really expecting a bit more of this book. It seemed a bit obvious and basic to me. I didn't get anything from it to carry with me.
Robert Avola
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my all time favorite books. Its about a teenager named Aaron Rowe and he has just graduated high school and is looking for a job. He finds a job at a funeral home and his bosses name is John Barton. John will help Aaron and lead him through the way of adulthood. Aaron is a very quite and awkward kid but this is the perfect job because he doesn't have to see or talk to anyone who is living. Aaron through this story face many challenges like moving in with his grandmother at a young ...more
lucky little cat
Aug 24, 2017 rated it liked it
keywords: damaged YA hero, trailer park, Australia, sleepwalking, kindhearted funeral director with loud drawers, dementia, you can go it alone but you shouldn't, another wise-beyond-her-years twelve-year-old, multiple ER trips, elderly much-loved cat
Jess - The Tales Compendium
May 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: aussie, contemporary
The Dead I Know begins with a lot of mystery surrounding our main character Aaron. He has shown up for his first day working at a funeral parlour looking worse for wear and with an antisocial attitude. We don't know a lot about him except that he's a bit of a loner, lives in a caravan park with Mam, who we assume to be his mother, and that she has some kind of mental illness. Because of Mam's apparent illness, Aaron has to play the role of the parent the majority of the time and since it is just ...more
I didn't quite know what to expect out of this read when I started. The ARC ended up attainable and decided to give it a shot. This is one of those books that I liked, I enjoyed,l but it didn't wow me. It wasn't what I expected but I am not sure what I expected so that didn't bother me, I went in pretty clueless. It was a good story. I have just a few issues with the book but overall it was a good read.

Aaron lives with his mam, an elderly woman who is dealing with some issues. Issues that are of
Mar 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen
Aaron has just gotten a job at a funeral home with a man who is happy to give him all sorts of opportunities like a new suit, help with getting a driver’s license, and even invites him to eat meals with his family. But Aaron has too much to hide to trust his new boss. Mam is slipping deeper and deeper into dementia, often forgetting who Aaron is. The two of them live together in a camper where their neighbors are violent. Aaron also has a recurring nightmare that happens every time he falls asle ...more
Moonlight Gleam
Aug 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What would you do if you had recurring, bone-chilling nightmares that you couldn’t explain? Or memories of your past that are hidden deep within your subconscious and that you couldn’t recover? Your sleepwalking is spiraling out of control. Then there’s your drug-addicted neighbor that threatens to harm you, and a grandmother that is beginning to lose all her senses. What would you do? These are the questions that Aaron Rowe must answer, however, he must do it all on his own. His past is a blur ...more
Marj Osborne
May 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
"What is life without a memory? Is it death? Sometimes memory was death - slow and painful, eating away at your insides, reeking of decay. Losing your memory would save you from that; wipe your slate clean. But the good would be swept aside with the bad. All the fine things to build a life on would be lost, leaving you just one thing - that moment. No dreams and no history. The ultimate expression of living in the now." p. 147 -148

Not since Evelyn Waugh's 'The Loved One' have I read a book set i
May 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Aaron Rowe has just started his first day at his new job as a funeral director. He is grateful for the job in more ways then one, primarily because it gets him out of going to school but the bonus is he'll get payed. There are some obvious draw backs to the position, though it is not the dead bodies as one would expect, it is the living that are left behind and their grief that has stirred something in Aaron.

It has been years since Aaron has had trouble sleeping, but now the nightmares have retu
B Zimp
Mar 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
This short, quickly read, read disguises the intense topics and deep thought required to engage with this book. From the cover and description, I was expecting a light tromp into young adult land. This is not that book, it is something better, but simultaneously much more difficult. My following description makes it sound tripe, but I'm doing it injustice - as it is written from a vulnerable perspective with no aid visible, it reads as a sirens call for help.

Teenager Aaron is almost psychologic
May 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: royal
Aaron Rowe has just gotten a job at a funeral home, and that’s the best news he’s had in a long time. Aaron lives in a trailer park that is a haven for drug dealers and addicts with his Mam who has undiagnosed dementia. He has crippling nightmares and a horrible habit of sleepwalking and waking up in strange and often dangerous places. Aaron’s new boss, John Barton, hires Aaron on the recommendation of Aaron’s guidance counselor, and offers him the chance to learn a trade. Through the kindness o ...more
Carol  MacInnis
Feb 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I won this book from a contest on Goodreads.

Aaron Rowe, fresh out of high school is now an apprentice working alongside John Barton, Funeral Director. To Aaron this is the perfect job for him. He lives with his 'Mam' in a van in a caravan park. Mam is a much older woman who is showing signs of, possibly, dementia. Aaron is a very shy, quiet person who also sleepwalks and is always frightened where he may find himself each morning and what had occured on these 'walks'. If only he could stop the s
Adele Broadbent
Aaron Rowe is on his first day in his new job. Apprentice Funeral Director. If that isn’t enough to deal with, his mum is mentally unwell, and he is a sleepwalker – up to 5 kms at a time!

He is haunted by nightmares, which slowly build throughout the story which is expertly woven around his new boss and apprenticeship, his mother’s illness, his dangerous neighbours in the caravan park and his sleepwalking.

Although some readers may find parts of his work squeamish, Aaron is a character that draws
Great Books
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ages-15-18

Aaron Rowe unable to escape his sleepwalking, nightmares and haunted past, seeks solace in a new job working at a funeral parlor. His only family is “Mam” who he lives with in a caravan park. When Mam’s deteriorating mental state lands her in the hospital, Aaron’s reoccurring nightmares become dangerous and he risks losing his new job and well as his life!

Reviewer 10
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-book-ever
It's been so long since I read something that made me want to make time to finish reading it. An utterly absorbing read, to say the least. Raw, emotional, disturbing- brilliant. The end was kind of jarring, and left me with questions, but otherwise, an absolute triumph. 4 1/2 stars.
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
A well written and compelling Australian young adult novel. Major themes of death and dementia, very intense scene revealed as the source of Aaron's nightmares and sleepwalking, some levity from his bosses daughter, Skye, but a little depressing none the less.
Oct 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
A moving story and interesting plot idea. The tone and overall effect though didn't really wow me. It is, however, a good choice for realistic fiction about the grieving process, probably best for more mature readers.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
2017 Reading Chal...: The Dead I Know - Scot Gardner 2 17 Jul 13, 2015 10:35PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Erasure Initiative
  • Again Again
  • Car Trouble
  • No Ordinary Day
  • The History of Mischief
  • The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights
  • Vertigo: A Novella
  • The Last Martin
  • Bird in a Box
  • My Calamity Jane (The Lady Janies, #3)
  • Protected
  • Burn
  • Bone Crier's Moon (Bone Grace, #1)
  • More Sh*t My Dad Says
  • Assuming Names: A Con Artist's Masquerade
  • The Harp in the South
  • Extraordinary Means
  • The Memory Book
See similar books…
Scot Gardner wasn't born reading and writing; in fact, he left school in year eleven to undertake an apprenticeship in gardening with the local council. He has worked as a waiter, masseur, delivery truck driver, home dad, counselor, and musician.

These days he spends half the year writing and half the year on the road talking to people about his books and the craft of writing.

News & Interviews

You’d think that with, well, everything this year has had in store for us, readers would flock to sweet stories with happy endings. But as...
187 likes · 69 comments
“It gets easier when you've met and dealt with your own grief. It gets easier, but it'll probably never be easy.” 3 likes
“It wasn’t hard to imagine them surrounded by their families as they did the last of their breathing. Said their goodbyes. Kissed cheeks. No luggage to check in. Leave your body with us, I thought. We’ll look after that.” 2 likes
More quotes…