Despite not liking my first attempt at a Vandermeer book, I decided to give him another try when there wasn’t anything to read at the library.

And it’s probably a good thing. Shriek is a highly interesting “biography” written by a Janice Shriek about her brother Duncan. The story covers the length of their lives, and is set in a fictional city called Ambergris, on the banks of the River Moth.

It’s the setting that really took me. The city is magical and mystical, with the spores of a thousand types of fungus permeating the environment, the people and the underworld. Duncan Shriek is obsessed with a competitor race called the ‘Gray Caps’, and spends his spare time travelling underground to discover their mysteries.

Great premise.

What’s fascinating about the biography is that it pretends to be annotated and edited by Duncan, with at times hilarious additions placed in brackets. It was so convincing that for a day or two I thought everything I read in brackets was written by Duncan!).

Although I was concerned that the action was haphazardly explained, often out of sequence, and disjointed, by the end of the novel the reasons for this become apparent. It’s an interesting read (if not always highly engaging).