Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Review: Bone Song

John Meaney, 2007, Gollancz

Welcome to Tristopolis, a city powered by the bones of the dead (which, rumour has it, do not rest easy); where buildings tower two-hundred storeys above street level, and ancient catacombs lie for miles beneath; where wraiths inhabit the mechanisms of everyday machinery; where law-enforcement sorcerers can pick apart a suspect’s mind with the ease of a computer technician rewiring a PC.

Lieutenant Donal Riordan is a good cop, good enough to get himself assigned to protect a visiting Diva from a shadowy organisation trading in the talent-drenched bones of true artists. When he fails, however, it’s up to Donal – assisted by his high-ranking zombie lover and her team of hardened cops – to chase down a conspiracy that appears to reach the upper echelons of political power in the city, and in doing so protect his own life, and the lives of those around him.

This really is a brilliant dark fantasy novel, which gave me the same sort of thrill I recall getting upon first reading China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station. The world into which Meaney drops the reader is original, enthralling, and tightly put together – an unsettling blend of shiny Retro Sci-Fi, grim dystopia, and gothic horror - giving the city a character all of its own. The plot develops nicely, delivering twists and turns, tension and dizzying action, together with fascinating glimpses into the personal lives of the strange denizens of this strange city.

This is definitely a must-read novel for all fans of horror, fantasy and SF alike; ‘New Weird’ at its very best. A direct sequel to Bone SongDark Blood – is also currently available in Trade format, to be released in paperback early 2009, and I’m already rubbing my hands together in anticipation of immersing myself in it.

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