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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Immortown by Lily Markova is an irresistibly dark read with strange and charming characters. Freya is still processing the death of her brother by putting her focus on her job as an actress. Then an accident on set changes everything. Suddenly she finds herself in Immortown. A strange town that Freya can't quite figure out, full of even stranger characters. The first person she meets claims to be the girlfriend of her late brother, which she knows is impossible. When she arrives at the Drunk Dead, she receives mixed messages from the various patrons; then she finds a guy dead in the tub ... only moments later to find him not so dead. An artist named Kai seems to have a connection to her and his paintings have a strange tendency to come to life, but she's not sure she can trust him. She doesn't know how she ended up here, but she'll do whatever she can to leave Immortown.
Lily Markova switches perspectives between Freya and Kai, which gives contrasting views to the town. As a resident, Kai is so used to the strange events that they're all normal to him, while Freya is new to town so she sees everything in a strange and slightly twisted way. She stumbles into this whole other world similar to Alice discovering Wonderland, only Markova brings out darker elements to Freya's journey. The town is chaotic and the tone is melancholy with dark humor and themes of death. Markova explores the meaning of life and death while also touching on serious topics which include suicide and depression. The humor is often bleak and with murderous undertones, but levity does have a presence throughout with certain moments being lighter, though the overall tone remains dark from beginning to end. The characters are vivid with complex personalities and eccentricities fitted to the tone of the town. Immortown itself plays several parts. It has an interesting mix of feeling free for some of the characters while others feel trapped since the characters have a tendency not to be able to leave. It also has a presence that makes it feel like another character in the story. Immortown is a unique tale with characters who are charmingly weird and delightfully murderous in a journey exploring death and grief.