- File Size: 534 KB
- Print Length: 281 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publication Date: December 24, 2013
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B008MPNBNS
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,048,147 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Catskinner's Book (The Book Of Lost Doors 1) Kindle Edition
|Length: 281 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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James has a problem. His culty parents basically grafted an otherworldly, non-physical creature to James’ being. The creature is psychotic and believes violence is the best answer. It can also take control of James’ body to perform superhuman acts of brutal butchery. After spending years in various institutions, James has finally settled down into something approximating a life. He holds down a job at an electrical supply store while Victor, his boss and only kinda-sorta friend, sometimes sends him on missions to kill certain people. Everything works fine until Victor is murdered and James is thrust into the fantastical, horrific world behind the world in order to find Victor’s killers.
Got all that? Good, because Burnett charges headlong into the story and world he’s created without pausing to give you time to breathe. Once the inciting incident hits, it’s pedal to the metal until the end. That said, the world is truly fantastical. There are no witches, or ghosts, or vampires or werewolves. Burnett populates his world with all sorts of unique creatures. We have the Ambimorphs, crazy hot plant-transgender-women-things that ooze sexuality; fiery, metal centipedes; sentient ooze that dissolve your very being; and much more.
None of it feels out of place because Burnett explains how these various creatures function with plausible-sounding scientific explanations (I’m the furthest thing from a science geek, but they do sound plausible). It’s a fantastic world that has a scientific coherence to it. Calling this book urban fantasy might be a disservice because of the connotations of urban fantasy. Many times, it feels more like the science-fantasy of the genre-bending classics of the pulp era. So I guess that would make this an urban science-fantasy-thriller?
This leads me to Burnett’s writing. While Burnett can be poetic, it’s never at the expense of clarity. Far too many authors try to show off their wordsmithing abilities only to end up being opaque with what’s going on. but Burnett manages to be the best of both worlds. There was never a moment where I had to reread a sentence due to confusion or clarity issues. This, more than anything else, is what made me finish the book in less than two days.
James as a character is sympathetic. Sure, he’s not exactly a good guy, but you feel for the guy and the hand he’s been dealt, and you want him to succeed at making the best of his situation. Catskinner’s foreign worldview and mindset keep things very interesting, and his(?) conversations with James are fun to read. I’ll read any book with more Catskinner in it, as he is the most interesting character in the book. Other characters are introduced as well, weird characters indeed, but to talk more about them would spoil the fun of discovery.
A final consideration. This book can get quite racy at times, though it never devolves into prurience or obscenity. Much like the magazine covers of Weird Tales, the book never quite crosses the line, which I find refreshing and much more effective.
If I had any kind of nitpick, and it is just a nitpick, is that the climax of the novel isn’t quite climactic enough. I was expecting a massive fight against a formidable opponent. Burnett sidesteps that fight in a way that feels just tad anticlimactic. That said, he manages to throw a curveball your way which made me immediately get the second book without dropping a massive cliff-hanger on your head.
This is a fantastic book. I plowed through it quickly and enjoyed everything about it. It’s imaginative, sympathetic characters, a truly fantastical world, and a forward-moving plot. This is weird fantasy at its finest and one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read this year.
5 out of 5 stars
The story of a young man whose cultist parents fused him to a murderous entity of pure thought exploring a strange world-behind-the-world with a transgender plant man-woman…thing?...might sound like old hat urban fantasy, but in Misha Burnett's hands this story takes on additional depth and intimacy beyond what you usually see in this sort of tale.
Part of the reason that the actions of these weird monsters is so believable might be that they all have a common origin. Part of the reason might be that none of them are simple new takes on old creatures. There are no vampires or werewolves or vampiric werewolves or werewolves, but they have a different name like lycan or caninemen or siriusians or what have you. None of that. Just a bunch of weird and original things with their own strengths, weaknesses, and personalities. It’s a refreshing change from the ordinary.
The setting is great, the creatures fresh, and the action fast and furious. Where the book really shines is the characters. They all behave in believable ways – a neat feat given that one of the protagonists is a relentless and powerful parasite/demon of pure thought. You instinctively dislike the bad ones and feel enough sympathy to root for those caught up in a fight not of their own choosing.
Soon enough, he finds his way into a wider, wilder world of terrifying alien beings from the outer spheres and the people who serve, resist, or try to profit from them. Our hero must rediscover his own humanity in the fight against evil.
A very well-written tale with some excellent worldbuilding and references to other works of fantasy. The only fault was some of the decisions and behaviors of the characters didn't quite make sense from a strategic standpoint, but it's the start of an intriguing series.
Top international reviews
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great sci-fi story, and I couldn't wait to start into Book Two - Cannibal Hearts.