When I originally read this book I intensely disliked it, and it was only on a punt that I read Shriek: An Afterwood, but a second attempt has come up trumps.

Veniss is a dystopian future world that covers the world with a massive city, a premise that’s not entirely new, but is twisted in this novel by the presence of a geneticist called Quin. The 3-Act story revolves around the un/witting interaction of three main characters of the mad scientist, and is more akin to a Frankenstein-style horror than a straight scifi. And despite a terrible first Act I enjoyed it as such.

Without giving the story away, the presence of Quin and his creations presents interesting questions about the role of people and their behaviour in the world, and is probably supposed to be a direct commentary on our treatment of each other and animals. But… it’s buried pretty deep.

Otherwise, the novel follows what is probably a Vandermeer motif of the “brother-sister-other” love triangle similarly to Shriek. So that’s probably something to watch should he publish further books. Likewise the superficial “overworld” and the mystical underworld. Vandermeer appears to have something of a penchant for dividing the world into the haves and have-nots, but represents them in in a markedly different way to classical fantasy traditions like “elves” and “dwarves”.

Am actually looking forward to further books.

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