This beast of a book is the kind of tome that would normally take me a good few weeks to get through, and build up my arm muscles quite significantly. But instead I sailed through it like a ravenous slake moth (more of those in a moment).
Yes, this novel took hold of me in a way I couldn’t have imagined. A supremely weird, steampunk, fantasy story with strange creatures, big words, and a plot that flowed perfectly; it has it all.
Have you ever had that feeling after finishing a book where you kind of miss it? Sounds weird but hopefully you know what I mean. Luckily this is part one in a trilogy!!!!!!
To explain the plot may take a while, and it’s a good 300 pages or so until the meat and potatoes of the story really gets going. In a nutshell; five monstrous entities escape and lay siege to the city of New Crobuzon. These slake moths (see, I told you they would be making a re-appearance) are not your usual beasts. These things feed on your dreams, sucking your very conscious from your mind and leaving you brain dead.
That’s weird enough in itself. But what else does this book offer? Well, many races of creatures that are certainly not of this world. Wanna meet em? Well, let’s go.
We have the khepri; human bodies with heads of bugs. Lin is one of these. She’s an artist who uses her own own spit to create beautiful sculptures. She has a lover, Isaac, a human scientist, and when they get together her headlegs quiver in quite the sexual excitement.
Or how about the catacae; a race of cactus people with tough flesh covered with sharp spikes?
Then there’s the vodyanoi; frog-type creatures who need to be kept constantly wet to stay alive. These things are able to manipulate water into tiny statues and to help with the flow of the river through the city.
Motley is a badass mob boss whose body is a mish-mash of different species, with many legs, mouths, and organs. Very few get to witness his grotesque form. This dude is one ugly and terrifying bastard.
There’s also the Remade, those genetically engineered to incorporate weapons or machinery upon their person. Many criminals are sentenced to become Remade in the punishment factories.
You want more? OK, the giant sentient computer who communicates through a necrotic corpse with wires attached to his brain, obviously with the top portion of his skull missing. This Construct Council is wired into thousands of electric constructs and shares knowledge from the most intelligent of household appliances and supercomputers.
Yagherak is a garuda, a race of bird-people (bird-persons?) who has had his wings removed for a crime he cannot admit to. His role in the story is to seek out Isaac and beg him to help him fly again. And our plucky scientist is only too keen to tax himself to make this so. And these events ultimately lead to the escape of these evil dream-stealing moth monsters.
If things weren’t weird enough, meet the Weaver. This thing is a giant spider who exists in multiple dimensions and speaks in weird riddles that resonate deep inside the mind of the listener.
And of course we have the slake moths. These terrifying and giant bugs who steal dreams, not only feed on them, but excrete them in a way that disturbs the minds and dreams of all in the city. This ‘waste’ is used to make a street drug named dreamshit, and this mind-altering high is sort after by many of New Crobuzon’s junkie denizens.
Throw in the corrupt government, a dangerous allegiance between them and a certain crime lord, and plenty of scientific theory, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a story.
So there you have it, no real plot explanations, no spoilers, just one big recommendation. If massive tomes are your thing this is one that seriously deserves your time. It’s about time for me to crack on with book 2 now, yay!!!
They call it weird fiction, but that really isn’t doing it justice!
Categories: book review