November Diversion: A Peculiar Peril

It’s Sunday morning and I know the rest of the world continues to spin off its axis in chaos around me.

I thought I’d barrel into this holiday season but after buying my sister’s gifts, which I wanted to buy the most, I feel like I’ve had to make myself focus on the rest. I just tossed my mother’s gift onto my knitting needles when holiday knitting usually started weeks ago. Everything is just out of whack. I blame the dragged out election and the lack of my usual external markers of my life, like sports seasons.

I have managed to purchase materials for Thanksgiving pies and chex mix, my holiday cooking bastions, so there is that. I would be planning cookies if I was going to see my family but COVID says no.

I do think it’s important to be safe, however. My boss has sent us all back to remote sessions as of this week and I’m wondering how much longer my child will be able to do his two in person days. I know school closing will be inevitable and I am grateful that he’s had the number of in person days as he has had. He’s gotten back into the swing of school, which for me is the most crucial component.

I mean so it’s a good time to delve more into portal fiction. I said last week that November is just such a portal appropriate month for me and I have to say that the bizarre nature of this one was a good diversion from the election craziness last week.

A Peculiar Peril, Jeff VanderMeer

Jonathan Lambshead inherits his grandfather’s estate on the pretense that he needs to catalog and manage the vast amounts of items accumulated. This quickly dissolves into a larger theme involving Aurora, another dimension under siege by a magician, his mutinous familiar, and a collection of constructed war machines. Jonathan discovers his true inheritance, his legacy, in which was to protect Earth from the nefarious powers taking over Aurora. Of course he uncovers his own family secrets in the process. And this is a duology so the resolution is only partly and not just my usual avoidance of spoilers.

So this plot summary is super reductive. This novel spirals into the weird at warp speed. The second chapter brings in the magician, his familiar, the disembodied head of Napoleon providing battle strategies living in Notre Dame repainted on the inside to more closely resemble the flames of Hell. I anticipated this, as I follow the author on Facebook purely for my own entertainment. Usually he writes sci fi/cli fi which is too intense for me to enjoy but I thought I’d try this one because it’s marketed as a YA novel. I have no idea who thought that would be a good idea, because I can’t imagine getting involved in this book as a teenager. This is what I get for reading someone’s book because they put up trailcam footage and pictures of themselves in costume holding a jackfruit on Facebook when the world, for all intents and purposes, is going to crap.

This is good if you like the super ass weird and out there. If you are looking for talking vegetables, hedgehogs riding roosters, a monster made to look like a school marm and a talking inanimate object that is the secret to dominating the universe, this is it. I needed brain space for it but I didn’t get too emotionally involved and that is a plus. Also the bathroom and tongue in cheek humor is really top shelf. Yeah, it’s toilet humor but VanderMeer brings it to a new level of hilarity without being gross in a way that keeps me following his Facebook posts. And I can’t confidently say I caught every iota of the layers and subtlety. I always love some resolution to family mysteries too and when the MC ends up more connected in the end that they were in the beginning. I’d find new things if I read it again. It’s not a book I’d recommend to everyone, so I’m trying to be open about the kind of book it is so my readers can decide for themselves if it’s a good outlet for their brain space.

At the moment I think I’ll read the next installment but it isn’t coming out until 2022. A lot can happen by then, if 2020 has taught us anything.

Not Christmas yet next week. More stuff I meant to get to, maybe some more magic, because I realized that I read the Magicians trilogy at this time of year and it was also that other dimension portal absorption goodness.

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