By: Bavo Dhooge
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Shuster/Simon451
I won’t lie. I picked up this book solely because the author has one of the most awesome sounding names I’ve ever come across. And I’m happy I gave this book a chance. Styx, written by Flemmish author Bavo Dhooge, is a mystery novel with what is probably the most original twist on a zombie story I’ve ever seen.
Rafael Styx has it tough. His marriage is falling apart. He’s no closer to catching the serial killed dubbed “The Stuffer” than he was when the first sand filled body showed up. Oh, and he’s taking bribes from the local lowlifes. Then, just when he’s got a fresh lead and enough motivation for a fresh start, the unthinkable happens. Styx is murdered. And then he wakes up again. But a little dose of zombie-fication isn’t going to stop Styx from finding the Stuffer, especially when he’s Styx’s own murderer.
Styx is a great anti-hero with rather original dilemmas. How do you walk around town and solve a serial murder case when your flesh is rotting? How do you keep your fingers and other extremities from falling off after the most basic wear and tear? Despite Styx’s flaws, or maybe because of them, he draws the reader in.
However, I found myself drawn more to Delacroix, Styx’s partner. I couldn’t completely empathize with Styx. It wasn’t that he was a zombie. That I was fine with. He was just generally unlikable. He was gruff and mean, and not really in the ‘has a secret heart of gold’ way that you can often find in mysteries and thrillers. Even being a zombie didn’t really mellow him.
The story slips from a standard detective story into a surreal, horror tinged novel quite seamlessly. The change felt natural, or as natural as such a change could ever be. Interesting concepts were touched on. Styx becomes part of the other world, a place and time humans aren’t privy to. Time almost ceases to exist for him, and he can see ghosts.
Styx by Bavo Dhooge is a book very unlike the majority of detective novels and zombie novels I’ve read. The setting and plot are unique, enjoyable, and very much worth a read.