Book review: Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn

Title: Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn

Publisher: Zephyr

Publication date: eBook – 7 May 2020 (Print: Summer 2020)

Genre: Historical | Fantasy | Young Adult

Page extent: 432 pages


Goodreads blurb: 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.

Do you hear the people sing?! Singing the song of angry men! It is the music of the people who will not be slaves again!

I always knew “disaster queers in the French Revolution era” was exactly my type of shit and this book just proved it times like a million. This was such a fun riot of chaos: a rag tag group of teens get in way over their head when they rescue a prisoner who happens to control electricity. With both the Revolutionaries currently in control of France, and the Royalists desperate to return to power, both searching for the girl, the Battalion des Mortes must use all their wit, charm and sheer dumb luck to escape the clutches of all who chase them.

In Dangerous Remedy, the Revolution hasn’t really improved things all that much. Instead of a free France for all, the Revolutionaries have taken over with the same terror and fear as the Royalists before them, sending all to stand against them (and even some who don’t) to the guillotine, the symbol of the revolution. At the heart of this story are the Battalion des Mortes, a group of outcast teens trying to save the innocent from the guillotine. Our crew:

  • Camille, leader of the Battalion: headstrong, combatant and, despite her appearance of planning for her heists, sooooooo impulsive. She is at times a difficult character to like (her unwillingness to communicate causes oh so many problems and got me so mad) but this all comes from her complete devotion and passion to the Battalion which sometimes clouds her ability to think clearly.
  • Ada, our clever science researcher, desperately in love with Camille and terrified that Camille will never choose her over the Battalion. And also hiding a big secret about her father that she knows Camille will kill her for if she ever finds out.
  • Al, who I think is my personal favourite: destructive, sarcastic and just as combative as Camille, terrified to let anyone close in case they don’t care for him as he does for them, broken beyond belief thanks to his parents, and drinking himself to a slow death.
  • Guil, ex military softie, the biggest brain of them all, calm and clear headed in a crisis and the man we all need around to get us the fuck out of situations.
  • Olympe, the girl with magic, otherwise known as able to control electricity, scared and fearful of the world who hurt her but who will do whatever it takes to bring them down.
  • James, the man from Camille’s past, the healer who seemingly will do all he can to protect Cam.

These six will race against time to fool the Revolutionaries and Royalists in the most fun adventure ever. When Kat Dunn described this team as “queer disasters”, we all really underestimated how much disasters they would be, I love all of them so much. I just adore the way Dangerous Remedy opens and we’re immediately thrown into a prison break that keeps going wrong and then wrong again and then wrong again. I adore Ada’s complete “for the love of God/sounds about right” attitude throughout as disaster after disaster follows the team. They are simply the most fun to be around. I love the way Dunn both plays into and laughs at common tropes. The humour and snark really added to this book and made it into even more of the delightfully fun romp it is.

The setting is of course also fabulous. We are embedded in the artsy underworld that made Paris such a centre of the art scene, from the decadent, absinthe clubs, to the theatre scenes, I thought it perfectly captured the essence of Revolution France.

All in all this was a fabulously fun read and I can’t wait to see what happens to the Battalion des Mortes next. More disasters probably. Vive la révolution.