KRAKEN by China Miéville


Email this review


New, hefty urban fantasy with a London setting—sort of—from Miéville (The City & The City, 2009, etc.).

At the Darwin Centre in London's Natural History Museum, curator Billy Harrow shepherds a tour group toward the center's prize specimen, a giant squid that Billy himself helped prepare. Alas—squid, tank, preservative and all, have vanished! Whodunit? How? To Billy’s disbelief, investigating police officer Kath Collingswood professes to fight sorcery with sorcery. But, as Billy will quickly learn but more slowly accept, the teleportation of the huge squid is but an opening gambit in a struggle to the death between shadowy magical gangs lurking in an unseen London whose denizens, human and otherwise, are adept in techniques unknown to science and unsuspected by orthodox Londoners. This colorful, swirling, often arresting, equally often ploddingly didactic backdrop involves the squid-worshipping Congregation of God Kraken and renegade squiddy Dane Parnell—he tries to shield Billy from Goss and Subby, terrifying, sadistic wizards sent by the Tattoo, a maniacal, disembodied gangster now inked into the flesh of a hapless victim by Grisamentum, London’s greatest dead wizard. Meanwhile, the city’s magical familiars—cats, beetles, you-name-it—led by ancient Egyptian tomb-spirit Wati, are striking for better pay and benefits. Somebody or something, ho-hum, intends to destroy the world. But less than a hundred pages in, the lack of a plot becomes a serious drag, and Miéville doesn’t seem to grasp that absurd does not mean funny.

Likely reaction: raised eyebrows, head-scratching bewilderment.

Pub Date: June 29th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-345-49749-9
Page count: 496pp
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2010


FictionAMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman
by Neil Gaiman
FictionBEGGARS IN SPAIN by Nancy Kress
by Nancy Kress
NonfictionTHE DISPOSSESSED by Jacqueline Jones
by Jacqueline Jones
FictionTHE EYRE AFFAIR by Jasper Fforde
by Jasper Fforde
FictionHOUSE OF LEAVES by Mark Z. Danielewski
by Mark Z. Danielewski


NonfictionOCTOBER by China Miéville
by China Miéville
Sci-FiTHE LAST DAYS OF NEW PARIS by China Miéville
by China Miéville
Sci-FiTHIS CENSUS-TAKER by China Miéville
by China Miéville


IndieTHAT WHICH SHOULD NOT BE by Brett J. Talley
by Brett J. Talley
IndieLore and Order by Steve Peacock
by Steve Peacock
IndieERRANT GODS by Erik Henry  Vick
by Erik Henry Vick