cover image Dead Boys

Dead Boys

Gabriel Squailia. Skyhorse/Talos, $15.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-940456-24-9

Squailia’s uneven but promising debut delivers some exquisite worldbuilding alongside a mix of humor and philosophy. In Dead City, Jacob Campbell is on a quest to find the Living Man, an Orpheus-like figure who supposedly entered the afterlife without dying. Campbell hopes the interloper can show him how to get to the world of the living. He’s accompanied by Remington, a boy who can control corpses and has a raven nesting in his head, and the dandy Leopold, an inveterate gambler and carouser who is also the only man in the afterlife with a functional erection. Their journey includes multi-day benders in bars beneath the city, visits to never-ending battlefields, and more. This underworld is a fascinating city in which people decay, time is currency, and floods constantly rearrange the landscape. The focus is less on action and more on the sheer inanity of life after death, as in a battle sequence where a monster built of severed body parts uses video game techniques to defeat its enemies. Squailia’s not yet a settled, assured writer, but he’s on his way. (Mar.)