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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
After numerous short stories and a critically acclaimed collection (City of Saints and Madmen) chronicling the people and history of his signature, fungus-infested metropolis of Ambergris, Jeff VanderMeer has finally released a full-length novel set in the "crazed, beautiful, dirty, sad, glorious" city.
Shriek is structured as an extensive afterword for a book that explores the early history of Ambergris. The book's author, Duncan Shriek, is a disgraced historian who is obsessed with the gray caps, a subterranean race of vaguely humanoid spore people also known as the mushroom dwellers. Janice Shriek, Duncan's older sister and sometime surrogate mother, writes an afterword that offers insights into Duncan's much-misunderstood life, including his ill-fated love affair with a student he mentored, his bizarre fungal disease, and his strange disappearances into the underworld. But although the narrative is a loose mosaic of historically significant events concerning Ambergris (like the War of the Houses) and strange legends involving the gray caps, the story's real power comes from its intimate themes of love, loss, addiction, and redemption.
Renowned for his uniquely twisted and insanely creative speculative fiction stories Secret Life, The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases, et al.), VanderMeer should ascend to the exalted and elite pantheon of truly innovative fantasy novelists with the publication of Shriek. Fans of speculative gems like The Troika by Stepan Chapman will cherish this highly intelligent and ingenious novel, which blends soul-searching memoir and historical treatise with a touch of Lovecraftian horror. At times tragic and at times almost comic, Shriek is a one-of-a-kind novel by a one-of-a-kind storyteller. Paul Goat Allen