Second book of a series (following Nights of Villjamur, 2010), reaching U.S. shores after publication last year in the UK, where the author resides.
In the subgenre referred to by its practitioners as New Weird—bizarrely outlandish fantasy or far-future rational science fiction, take your choice—we're offered a world lit by a red sun, littered with remnants of advanced technology, populated by humans, humanoids, human-alien hybrids and still weirder creatures. Driven forth by a usurper, Rika, heir to the Jamur Empire's throne, her sister Eir, and formidable swordsman and con-man Randur, flee towards Villiren, a northern city already feeling the frigid early effects of a new ice age. Worse, the city faces invasion by the insensate lobster-like alien Okun, whose hordes pour through a portal from—somewhere. Homosexual albino Commander Brynd Lathraea of the Night Guard commands Jamur's troops against the Okun while desperately trying to persuade the gangs who really run Villiren to help defend it. Unfortunately the most powerful gangster, the half-vampire Malum, loathes homosexuals. Meanwhile, bafflingly, hundreds of prosperous citizens and loyal soldiers have inexplicably vanished from the streets; Inspector Rumex Jeryd, a furry, tailed, humanoid rumel, searches for the culprit, unaware as yet that the responsible party is a huge spider ordered forth by the mysterious Doctor Voland. Knowledge of the previous book is neither assumed nor required, although many characters are common to both. Newton's battle sequences often startle and impress, and he's not afraid to kill off major characters. Thankfully, he resists the temptation to overinflate the scope of the proceedings.
Less weird than some, with fairly orthodox plotting, characters and narrative that build to a satisfying conclusion while promising still more.