Kraken: an Anatomy by China Mieville (CBR3 #47)

Billy Harrow is a cephalopod specialist with a really great job. He works at the Darwin Museum in London, where they have the only giant squid specimen in the whole world on display. One day, as he’s giving a tour, the doors to the squid room open and on the plinth where there should be a giant tank with a squid in it, there is nothing. It’s not possible for the squid to have gone through any of the doors, and in any case, someone (or the security system) should have noticed something. It comes to Billy’s attention that he had already come to the attention of a Kraken-worshiping sect. Billy and Dane, a Krakenist warrior, go on the hunt for the Kraken, getting involved in a magical underworld Billy never knew existed.

Billy and Dane are caught between the Krakenists, the tiny police squad dedicated to cults (the Fundamentalists and Sect-Related Crime squad), and the Tattoo. The Londonmancers, who predict the future, see only the advent of Armageddon and no one knows how to avert it. There are elements of mystery and mysticism, adventure and apocalypse. Though there are elements of fantasy, this is serious literary fiction (whatever that means), textually dense and complexly plotted. Billy and Marge, the other magic newby who gets involved, both do an admirable job of working with the very little information they have. They must discover a whole second London behind, under and woven through the city they have called home. Why would someone want to steal the Kraken? What will they do with it? Can the end of the world be forestalled?

(Library book)


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