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Loose's First Look at the Upcoming Dark Academia Novel, 'Death Followed Us'

“The boy holds death in his hands before he learns how to speak. Death is all around him. It makes its presence known. It presses its fingers against the boy's throat, against his back, his shoulder, as if it’s a threat. It hovers around his presence, making itself known, promising but not always living up to the end of the bargain.”

These are the first few sentences of Death Followed Us by K.D. Edin (they/them), known as @kd.edin on Instagram. And recently, I had the opportunity to read the ARC ('advanced readers copy') containing the first six chapters of their novel.

The Whitlocks are one of the wealthiest and influential families in town, until one is discovered brutally murdered. Criminology student Ellis Ferelden (he/him) allies himself with the chief of police's son, Alistair Caddell (he/they), and a few others to uncover what happened. The Whitlocks have masked dark secrets for years; as the group investigate the murder, Ellis comes face to face with the past he left behind, and must question everything and everyone around him. Rivalry turns to obsession, friendships turn bitter, and the desire to be the best becomes its own war.

The novel can be classified as dark academia; set in 1994, it succeeds in creating an archaic atmosphere for the reader while remaining a contemporary piece of literature.

The literary influences of Edin can be clearly felt. The novel has the surrealism of Oscar Wilde, and keeps the reader captivated with sworn rivals slowly falling in love, alongside the mystery aspects of the murder itself. Edin also takes inspiration from the cult fantasy novel Vicious by V.E. Schwab, and Micah Nemerever's psychological These Violent Delights.

Alistair is as morally grey as a protagonist can get. Ellis is startled by Allister‘s lack of empathy towards the Whitlocks; Alistair appears to Ellis as a cold, mechanical and pretentious person, but little is known of Alistair's internal conflicts. Coming from a wealthy background and having the chief of police as their father, he sees solving this case as an opportunity to prove themselves and their skills.

But with Ellis' return in his life, Alistair's cold-blooded ways may change. Readers can look forward to a romance that blossoms between them. Captivated by the inner workings of criminals, and having watch his father, a detective, growing up, Ellis' young age hasn't stopped him from becoming a criminology prodigy. But his past continues to haunt him. He's sure he's become desensitised to horrific homicidal cases, but once in a while, a case comes along that shocks even the most experienced student. His trauma comes head to head with the case of the Whitlocks. He's helped by Sadie Lacoste (they/them), Matthew Evans (he/him), and Phoebe Jean-Louis (she/her), in a team effort reminsicent of dark academia masterpiece, The Secret History (Donna Tartt).

The novel remains fast-paced while still maintaining its profundity, with an exciting mystery for the reader to unravel. As Edin's debut novel, Death Followed Us is a mesmerising queer story, with the potential to become the next genre-defining classic. Death Followed Us is perfect for admirers of Donna Tartt, or fans of detective fiction.

Death Followed Us by K.D Edin is set to be published in January 2024.

Words by Aadya Paswan

Edited by Lucy Eaton


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