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Kill the Dead

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  428 ratings  ·  36 reviews

Out of the dusk he comes striding, the stranger, the man in black, inevitable as death itself: Parl Dro—Ghost Slayer.

Some have bought his services for gold, and some have blessed him for his work. But not everyone welcomes an exorcist who will remorselessly deprive them of their beloved dead.

Dro began his vocation at an early age. And now he will not be turned aside, no

Paperback, DAW Collectors #401, 172 pages
Published September 2nd 1980 by DAW (first published September 1980)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  428 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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mark monday
Feb 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Tanith Lee keeps it classy in this fun and rather old-fashioned fantasy adventure about a ghost-killer, the musician who follows him, and a vengeful young witch's ghost. together they encounter a tragic and threatening ghost city, one that comes complete with a ghost forest and a ghost lake in the form of a five-pointed star.

"Tanith Lee keeps it classy" is my callow way of saying that this does not really read like a Tanith Lee novel. none of her usual writerly flourishes, no strange,
Dannii Elle
This has reminded me exactly why Tanith Lee was my gateway drug to the fantasy genre and made me wonder how more readers have not explored the wonders of her writing.
Caroline Eising
Mar 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Caroline by: Kimmi Sanders
This book surprised me. I wasn't sure if I would like it. I've read very little supernatural fantasy, and a lot of bad television shows had made me wary of the whole genre. And that cover art! It has aged very badly. The ghosts are wonderful, but I didn't feel like I could feel anything for Fabio's dark-haired step-brother with the terrible fashion sense (that haircut! those sleeves! that neckline!). So I studiously ignored the guy on the cover, and instead replaced him with a cross between Jon ...more
N Oelle
Mar 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
It wasn't as pleasurably un-traditional, and elaborately inventive as others of my favorite Tanith books, but it was very classy, and classic. The lovable characters and commitment to the strong driving goals of the plot line really give you a reason to care about the events in the novel. One small complaint, although it was supposedly a horror novel and was compared to the Exorcist, it was not at all frightening. It was more of a supernatural, phantasmal fantasy romp than a horror novel. That ...more
Nov 17, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

This is a solid little paranormal fantasy adventure. My favorite part was the dialogue between Dro and Myler (pretty sure that's not his name but I'm too lazy to look it up and I wasn't pronouncing it right in my head anyway). It was simple and sharp and made me chuckle. Also I didn't see the twist at the end coming, though I probably could have if I'd given it thought...But I usually don't lol.
Oct 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Like much of Tanith Lee's work, Kill the Dead has an interesting, somewhat mythological premise that is than grounded in the actions of i's characters. It feels, on some levels, like a fairy-tale or ghost-story expanded and told in proper prose form.

It is the tale of an Excorcist, a Killer of the Dead, who persues his task with fanatical devotion, and ultimately what that task means and how it affects the people around him. It brings interesting questions to the for; He views Ghosts as unnatural
Ian Banks
Mar 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy

There used to be hundreds of books like this: perfectly capable and entertaining stories that were told in a couple of hundred pages and stood alone. Then publishers and authors decided that they wanted to expand their universes and deepen their characters and we got endless series' and fat tales about things that could probably be summarised in a few pages.

Some of which I love deeply, of course.

Anyway, this is a book I had been searching for for ages because I'd read an interview with Ms Lee

Oct 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really ought to read more by Tanith Lee! I always say that every time I read something by her, but then a year or more slips by before I get around to reading her again.

This reminds me a little of a lot of different books.

It reminds me a bit of Manly Wade Wellman's John the Balladeer series. It reminds me a bit of The Riddle Master of Hed, for some reason, though I can't quite figure out why... It reminds me (in retrospect) of (view spoiler) for obvious
Leila Anani
Jul 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Horror/Fantasy – Parl Dro is an exorcist on his way to Ghyste Mourna a mysterious haunted village. On his way he meets a strange minstral Myal Lemyal and Ciddey Soban a half-mad witch who lives with the ghost of her dead sister. Just how are these characters lives entwined? Very good plot twist that I didn't see coming.

• Life/Death
• Nature of “self”
• Tarot
• Love/Hate relationship
• Minstral
• Family relationships
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A long-time favorite. The main characters are based on two characters from the British sci fi show "Blake's 7." Tanith Lee wrote two episodes for the show and had a special fondness for these characters. As a fan of "Blake's 7" myself, I compulsively read this and loved it years ago. Planning to read it again.
Apr 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A great read, lent out my original copy back in the day. So was so pleased to see a re-issue from fantastic books. Ordered on online and devoured it in two days. It had still got the good story and characters that I remembered. And as the two main characters are based on Avon & Villa from Blake's 7 it was easy to put voice's to the men.
Avis Black
Feb 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-stars, fantasy
Lee's funniest fantasy novel. Recommended.
Dec 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tanith-lee
This has to be one of the most enjoyable single novels Tanith Lee has written. It's dark, cutting, & laced with Lee's very dry wit, & is quite an adventure into the realm of the dead.
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Eric Smith
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
While browsing my local used bookstore I came across this beauty. I saw the title and immediately fell in love with it. Once I pulled it off the shelf and saw the cover I knew this would be a good book. It just screams classy retro, the double necked guitar at the feet of a man who could be a hero or late seventies rock star. The ghosts on the cover were amazing, a skeleton without a head, a naked lady ghost and the goblin ghost that appears to have a real brain floating in his ghost skull. The ...more
Jun 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of old school fantasy, ghosts, necromancy, etc.
I won't lie, I picked this book up purely because of the awesomely bad ass, oh so metal, old school fantasy feel of the cover. With the brooding black clad exorcist and a host of mischievous ghostly enemies encircling him, all while a strangely present double necked guitar is propped up behind him, well, what wasn't to love? How could I not pick it up? Even the redundant title was amusingly appealing.

I used to absolutely love old DAW paperbacks as well as Tanith Lee, and recently I've wanted to
David Elsensohn
Mar 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
This is a gratifying departure from the typical fantasy tale. Parl Dro is crippled, mysterious, ethereally good-looking and attractive to women, has a talent for hunting down and exterminating ghosts for no real reason, and is brooding and arrogant to boot. Yet he is interesting to follow around, and very nearly sympathetic.

The other narrative focalizer is an abused musician named Myal, who finds himself wrapped up in Dro’s journey. He can be irritating but consistent in his growth and attitude,
Melissa McCauley
Sep 02, 2010 rated it liked it
If you do a bit of a mental squint and use your imagination to smooth out the rough edges, this is a pretty good story. To put it in movie terms: it’s like LadyHawke meets The Sixth Sense.

Parl Dro is a handsome ghost killer - he releases the undead who are clinging to the living and sends them to their final destination. Everything changes when Parl stops in a little town to deal with a pair of sisters, Cilny and Ciddey, one dead and one living. There his destiny is joined to the roguish
Oct 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The 1980 novel KILL THE DEAD is a perfect introduction to Tanith Lee’s writing in the Gothic mode. The short novel has all of her hallmarks: two tortured Byronic anti-heroes, a beautiful witch antagonist and a plot that is full of twists that allude to and subvert literary tropes. The novel concerns the mordantly humored exorcist Parl Dro, and his dealings with a hapless musician and a vengeful female lich (an undead sorceress). The prose is lovely and musical, full of rich imagery that ...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Apr 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Parl Dro is a killer of the dead--he releases the spirits of ghosts who refuse to depart the living. And one woman is not happy when he does so to her sister. She then dogs his steps, and a minstrel dogs her steps as Dro makes his way to a ghost city. Not a horror book in the scary, creepy sense and this is among Tanith Lee's more comedic books, laden with plenty of humor and wit--and with her sensuous, lyrical prose. A short book that reads quickly you could down in one sitting--and with a neat ...more
Nov 07, 2016 rated it liked it
I was distracted while reading this, but it doesn't strike me as a story that requires much attention. While enjoyable, the characterizations are limited, the story simple, despite its twists, and the ending explained in long paragraphs instead of drawn in the colorful prose usually expected from Lee. This novel feels like an idea she typed out heatedly over a week, one that would benefit from a much more fleshed out exploration.
Aug 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
At some point I realized the main characters could be debating the relative merits of their respective grocery lists and I would still enjoy this book, they were so entertaining. The plot ended up being great fun, though the "big reveal" in the last ten pages seemed unnecessary, even though it had been carefully set up over the course of the novel. Still, the book contained Attempted Ghost Aardvarking (to co-opt a Joe Bob Briggs term), and that counted for a lot when I rated it.
Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was almost done, and all of a sudden I was all wtf? this makes no sense. But I kept going and oh my gosh, suddenly everything made sense again and the story became awesome. That's all I am saying.
Nov 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
Remarkably straight (in all senses of the word) for a Tanith Lee novel. A beautifully crafted work that achieves all it sets out to do in what is, by today's standards, a very slim book. Moving, thought provoking and funny too. One of my favourites of hers.
Jun 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
This books was great! It had a really surprising twist at the end. I can't wait to review it.
May 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Poetic girl-goth dark-fantasy yumminess at its best.
Feb 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of the most perfectly written books of all time...I just love everything about it.
A different kind of ghost story.
Josh Karaczewski
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
More of Tanith Lee's hypnotic writing and ingratiating characters - with a great twist at the end.
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Tanith Lee was a British writer of science fiction, horror, and fantasy. She was the author of 77 novels, 14 collections, and almost 300 short stories. She also wrote four radio plays broadcast by the BBC and two scripts for the UK, science fiction, cult television series "Blake's 7."
Before becoming a full time writer, Lee worked as a file clerk, an assistant librarian, a shop assistant, and a
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