Kraken by China Mieville

Pages: 509
Published: May 7th 2010
Publisher: Ballentine Books
Genre: Adult Fantasy, Urban Fantasy

China Mieville’s latest work is set in London in the present day.  When a giant squid exhibit is stolen from a natural history museum, Billy Harrow, the exhibit’s curator, becomes involved in the search.  He quickly discovers that a group of  people revere the squid as God, and that there is a prophecy that the theft will bring about the end of the world by fire.  Billy is questioned by the Cult Squad of the London police, abducted and threatened by two very scary men, menaced by a talking tattoo and finally joins forces with Dane, a Church of the Squid true believer.  Along the way Billy makes important discoveries about belief, faith, science and magic.

China Mieville is one of the English language’s best fantasists, and Kraken is an energetic roller-coaster-ride of a book.  There are many familiar images, such as mechanical/human hybrids and wells of books, but he is using those images to tell a new story.  The metaphor of paper and ink is well-used throughout. Billy is scientist and a thinker in contrast to Dane, who is a believer, and Mieville uses these two characters to explore science and faith.  Through the actions of yet another character, he proffers a critique of the dangers of fanaticism. If anything is unsatisfying about the book, it is the idea that Billy comes to grips with this strange, magical side of London with relative ease. Mieville fills the book with pop-culture references that are hilarious, and Star Trek actually has a role in the plot.

The events that happen are serious but Mieville is writing tongue-in-cheek and manages to create a story that is scary, thoughtful and funny at the same time.  

 Rate: 5/5 Stars

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