Kraken, China Mieville, Del Rey, ISBN 978-0-345-497499, $26.00, 509 pgs.

Cover of "Kraken"

Cover of Kraken

The latest book from China Mieville finds him returning once again to the development of his city within a city theme.  This time it is London and the incident that drives the beginning of the journey to the alternate city is the theft of a Kraken from London’s Natural History Museum.  The Kraken is a large one and immediately draws the attention of the special police division tasked with investigating the strange and unexplainable.  Billy Harrow, curator, and keeper of the Kraken finds himself suddenly in the middle of a London that is strange, otherworldly and yet existing alongside the London he is familiar with.  He finds himself sought after.  The police want him to work with them, others just want his knowledge.   Some just want him gone.  He is introduced to a church that worships the Kraken, to a house inhabited by the sea, to cults both strange and wonderful, and to individuals too horrible to experience.  In the end it is Billy Harrow’s task to figure out the secret of the theft of the Kraken in order to save the world, if not the universe.  There are few he can trust and fewer who will tell him all he needs to know.  As he journey’s through the London of the dark and hidden he learns as much about himself as he does about the Kraken around which the universe now seems to revolve.

Mieville is a master at creating his double cities, the unnatural existing alongside the natural, the odd just off the narrow, rarely seen alley and the unusual inhabitants we rarely look at twice.  There is magic in his London and not all of it is pretty or controlled by humans.  But, it is all, wonderful to watch and to experience.  As Billy Harrow wends his way from beginning to end we get to journey along and marvel at those things we thought commonplace that are really imbued with the mysterious.

All of the above would make an interesting book but a dull one if not wrapped around a rousing adventure quest.  There is an end for Billy Harrow, a place he needs to get to and a journey he needs to reluctantly make.  It is this path that Mieville creates and develops that ultimately becomes hung with the fantastic and the unusual.  It is like entering a curiosity shop with a one way entrance and not knowing where the exit is and having to wander the strange aisles looking for a way out.

Kraken was a marvelous read.  Entertaining and enjoyable and worth every minute.  A fantastic adventure through a strange wonderland that is both familiar and foreign.  Well done and worth it.

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About damnaliens
Writer, reviewer, home provider to the Damnaliens

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