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292 pages, Hardcover
First published June 17, 2014
"I've always felt fairy tales are as true as anything that really happened."
Thea's mother suffers from "bound-sickness," the result of a spell gone wrong when Thea's father died at war, but his body was never returned home. To support them, Thea works nights as a waitress at the Telephone Club. There, she's befriended Nan, another girl who must support herself alone. And she meets Freddy, a young man with silver hair and a magic touch. The three of them are drawn into -- and connected by -- a mystery taking place underneath their city.This book combines a dystopian feel, zombies, and magic in a fast-paced story. I found the worldbuilding satisfactory, if not especially vibrant or filled out. The characters are all sympathetic and relatable, although not explored very deeply. (In particular, Nan has a very interesting development which I would have liked to see more closely examined, but this just isn't that kind of book.) I liked the setting, too, which is a bit like 1930's Berlin.
"Who is Frederick?" Nan asked.
She was the opposite of trouble, but that was what made the job fun -- the nightly illusion that this was her real world.
Marriage-binding was already considered a backwater custom when Thea's parents had married. They had chosen binding so each would always know where the other was so her mother could find her father if he ever got lost.
She could envision him reading prayers by the weak light, trying to hold on to his humanity even while he hungered for blood.
Death was ugly. She had never met it like this before. Maybe it was better, in the end, to see it, to know, and not to be left wondering.
You can't defy death, my boy. You don't bring back the dead. No one can.
But I think that even when things seem to be at their worst, someone is looking out for you. The people you love are never far away.
I don't want to lose them, but you have to make things right. And right doesn't always mean happy.
No one was supposed to live beyond death.
And gently Sigi's fingers touched Nan's face, questing in the dark, and kissed her.
But none of this was bad.
Life is short, and sometimes awful, but we've made it through what we must today, and we'll do it again tomorrow - together