Sunday, 7 February 2010

Finch by Jeff VanderMeer (Book Review)

John Finch, detective, is assigned to a double murder that the gray caps are particularly interested in. one human and one gray cap are found dead in an empty apartment in the City of Ambergris. Finch’s superior, a gray cap, Heretic, is pushing him to find immediate answers to the case.

The story is filled with underground mushroom inhabitants in a mysterious setting. The gray caps are mushroom people who have disbanded the government, taken over the country by martial law. They provide the human inhabitants with food laced with drugs, keep them in interment camps and use torture to keep them under control.

This is a hardboiled detective story in a fantasy setting with a multitude of different elements: mystery, crime, political, intrigue, horror and romance.

Initially I had difficulty settling in to read this book due to the clipped writing style, and by mid-point had almost set it down permanently not to continue reading. Perhaps the confusion stems from not reading the first two books in this trilogy. Once I reached halfway into the book the plot became understandable and some of the plot twists made sense. The story became interesting after that and I was able to keep focused once time travel was introduced, although this aspect had a brief explanation where I thought there should have been more. Two-thirds in there is an anti-climax ending which provided too much information and spoiled the ending for me. I did complete the book because I wanted to learn what happened to Finch’s long time partner and friend, Wyte, who suffered a deadly fungal growth, and Finch’s cat, Feral. There are interesting aspects to this story, like the memory bulbs, and Heretic's nasty creature accomplice: the skery.

A special thank you to Matt Staggs for providing the review copy.

---San Francisco Chronicle’s best SF/Fantasy list
---Washington Post’s Best Books of the Year
---Barnes & Noble Review’s Best Books of 2009
---An IndieBound Featured Book of January 2010.
---Wall Street Journal’s “literary profiling” 2009 recommended holiday reading list

Book format: paperback, 320 pages
Publisher: Underland Press
Author website: Jeff VanderMeer

Available: November 1, 2009

Chapters Indigo


David Cranmer said...

"This is a hardboiled detective story in a fantasy setting" sounds intriguing. Thanks Barbara.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

OOOOH! Most interesting.

Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds interesting. I like cross genre books myself, which mix a variety of elements.

Teresa said...

Mushrooms?? It sounds quite strange.

Mihai A. said...

I have copies of all three Ambergris books of Jeff Vandermeer, but I thought to start with the first two published before giving "Finch" a shot. I have to see if I'll manage that soon :)

Shauna Roberts said...

Big thanks for the review, Barbara. I've heard so much about this book and wondered whether I should get it. After reading your review, I now know to start with the first book in the series.

Mushroom people? Sounds weird but very cool if he pulls it off.

Barbara Martin said...

The mushroom people are quite nasty characters, and not to be trifled with. It provides a whole new look toward 'magic mushrooms'.

Any type of character can be created in a fantasy once a plausible background history is completed.

From my understanding this book was supposed to be a stand alone which any reader can pick up without reading any of the others in a series and get the gist of the story. This particular book does not fit into that category.

However, now I'd like to read the first two books to see how they are.

Travis Erwin said...

I love that cover.

Barbara Martin said...

Travis, an accurate description of items within its covers.