Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn (Review)

Her mother had always told her to ask for jewels as presents: they were the only things a woman could legally own, and if she ever needed to run, they could be sold.

Dangerous Remedy was one of my top anticipated 2020 releases, so when Zephyr sent me a review copy I was so excited. A f/f romance, a band of rebels, the French revolution? These are all things I love. I ended up a little conflicted over my rating, for reasons I’ll discuss below, but this a very good read. The ebook version is out TODAY, and print copies will be available in the summer 2020.

Rating: 3.75 stars!

Thanks to Zephyr for a review copy of this book, this has not affected my honest review.

Read me for the:

  • F/F romance
  • Band of rebels, but make it gay
  • Bi love triangle
  • Girl with magic and death at her fingertips
  • Fighting for the innocents in the French Revolution

The plot:

Camille, the daughter of executed revolutionaries, leads the Battalion des Mortes – the Battalion of the Dead. It’s a band of outcasts; a runaway girl, a deserter and an aristocrat in hiding, and their mission is to cheat death and draw lives away from the hungry blade of Madame La Guillotine. Their latest mission is not what she seems. She’s not the daughter of a duc, but she’s hunted by the Royalists and the Revolutionaries alike for the dark and disturbing powers she shows. Camille doesn’t know who she is, or what she is, but she’s more than just a mission.

Nobody can be trusted, everyone should be feared, and Camille is forced to choose between loyalty to the family she’s built herself, and her dreams for the future.

What did I think?

The biggest thing that had me conflicted about this book was Camille. Camille is the main character and she’s fierce and strong and incredibly brave, fighting a hard battle to try and save innocents from the guillotine. I also… really disliked her. I can’t put a fine point on what it is that I disliked about her, she just never clicked with me. I usually love female characters that are a little rough around the edges, and I’m always shouting about how much I like characters that show ‘dislikeable’ traits, but usually that’s because I love to find the development behind them that explains their actions. Camille was rude and harsh with her makeshift family, cruel at times with Al especially, but when her backstory and ‘explanation’ was uncovered it didn’t seem to justify the way she acted. She still seemed like a cruel person to me. Because of that, the f/f romance between Camilla and Ada just did not click with me (Ada should be with Olympe, I’m saying that now), and the fact that three separate characters are in love with Camille in this story? Why? It made me disengage with the love triangle, and the romance, which lowered the stakes a little.

Fortunately, the rest of the ensemble cast; Olympe, Guil, Ada and Al, my beloved Al, were excellent. They were well-characterised and each was well-developed. There were moments when I felt like we weren’t hearing much about particular characters, but then discovered that there were well plotted reasons that they were keeping their secrets to their chests. Between the ensemble cast, and the extremely twisty and interesting plot, I was able to thoroughly enjoy this book despite the fact that I wouldn’t have flinched if Camille had been put up for the guillotine. My notes just said ‘Olympe, the coolest bitch’, and I stand by it. Olympe has been through hell. Human experimentation, torture, and she’s got powers that nobody can explain – least of all her. But she’s empathetic and I love her to pieces. I loved that her powers were rooted in science, but because this book is set in the 1700s, that science seems more magical than anything we have today.

The setting feels very authentically 1700s, and I love that Kat Dunn has clearly put the research in to make this land. Ada is a scientist, so she had some vague knowledge of the early research around electricity, but it all seems like magic to them still. There were mentions of believing the sun to orbit the earth, and other appropriate scientific principles, and I love that Kat Dunn showed us these characters without bringing in modern beliefs that didn’t make sense – a thing that really bugs me in historical YA. Their beliefs were era appropriate, and that’s impressively done with a cast of LGBTQ+ characters, and I was glad that this was done without bringing too much heavy homophobia into it. It was present, and realistic, but it was never the focus of the book.

The plot really was very twisty, and I had a rug-pull moment so good that I sat bolt upright where I was reading this in bed, which I adore. The stakes were high the whole way through, and it felt like the characters really were out of their depth. They had to make sacrifices to win the ground they did, and it felt constantly like they might suffer in very real ways. I can’t wait for the next book, to find out how they handle the events at the end of DANGEROUS REMEDY, and to hopefully see certain people get their just deserts.

Links:

Add it on Goodreads here!

Buy at Hive if you can and support your local indie booksellers! Also available at Waterstones and Amazon.

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