Book Review: Kraken by China Mieville

Kraken by China Mieville

Publisher: Del Rey

Publication Date: June 29, 2010 (first published June 21, 2010)

Edition: Hardcover, 509 pages

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Fantasy, Mystery

Rating: 4/5

The imagination and world-building of Mieville was beyond anything I’ve ever read. 


With this outrageous new novel, China Miéville has written one of the strangest, funniest, and flat-out scariest books you will read this—or any other—year. The London that comes to life in Kraken is a weird metropolis awash in secret currents of myth and magic, where criminals, police, cultists, and wizards are locked in a war to bring about—or prevent—the End of All Things.In the Darwin Centre at London’s Natural History Museum, Billy Harrow, a cephalopod specialist, is conducting a tour whose climax is meant to be the Centre’s prize specimen of a rare Architeuthis duxbetter known as the Giant Squid. But Billy’s tour takes an unexpected turn when the squid suddenly and impossibly vanishes into thin air.As Billy soon discovers, this is the precipitating act in a struggle to the death between mysterious but powerful forces in a London whose existence he has been blissfully ignorant of until now, a city whose denizens—human and otherwise—are adept in magic and murder.There is the Congregation of God Kraken, a sect of squid worshippers whose roots go back to the dawn of humanity—and beyond. There is the criminal mastermind known as the Tattoo, a merciless maniac inked onto the flesh of a hapless victim. There is the FSRC—the Fundamentalist and Sect-Related Crime Unit—a branch of London’s finest that fights sorcery 

with sorcery. There is Wati, a spirit from ancient Egypt who leads a ragtag union of magical familiars. There are the Londonmancers, who read the future in the city’s entrails. There is Grisamentum, London’s greatest wizard, whose shadow lingers long after his death. And then there is Goss and Subby, an ageless old man and a cretinous boy who, together, constitute a terrifying—yet darkly charismatic—demonic duo.

All of them—and others—are in pursuit of Billy, who inadvertently holds the key to the missing squid, an embryonic god whose powers, properly harnessed, can destroy all that is, was, and ever shall be.

This was my first Mieville novel, and going in I really didn’t know what to expect. Everything I had heard was that his work could be very hard to describe, were very unlike another out there, but all were amazing novels. Well, that was all true. I was completely immersed and struck in awe of this world he had created and the imaginative monsters he came up with. It was quite remarkable.

This underground, magical England that we find out selves is great! And everything about it is great! From the different types of cults we encounter, each of their own unique beliefs system, to all monsters we encounter -both good and evil. Just how they are described, what they can do, and many different types there are. It was amazing he could think of those things.

The main character of the story were great as well. All unique in their own way and the authors does a great job of building up the reader/character relationships.

Biggest problem I had was I really didn’t know where the story was going, and at times had difficulty following what was going. Part of the following issue was because it was first time with Mieville’s unique and distinguishing writing style, and a lot of britisth slang went over my head. After a while though, I got the hang out of it. As for now knowing where the story was going, it did feel at times that we were just spinning out wheels in place. This is not to say the story was boring me – I was eager to read every page just to find out what new creations Melville was going to up with – but at the time I just quite understand what the point of showing certain things were. At the end though, it came full circle, and I was very happy with it.

Great writing and world-building, good characters, and the best imaginative of author I’ve ever read. Mieville’s work may be a little difficulty to get into, and from what I’ve read, this was the most linear and accessible of all his works to starts with. (Which both scares and excites me for his later stories). But I’d would encourage you to take a stab at this one.

4/5 Rating


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