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VanderMeer lets his freak flag fly in this novel of adventure, intrigue, and... marmots. A peculiar peril draws from many classic fantasies but is also wholly unique (enter bodiless Napoleon as a secondary character). My only qualm is that occasionally, early on the dialogue felt forced, and in the middle of the book, the plot seemed to move along a little slowly. I can state however, that I have never read a book quite like it. A Peculiar Peril is funny, and although there are multiple beheadings, and the wholesale slaughter of rabid chipmunks (to power giant war machines of course), it almost always feels lighthearted. I do recommend, but just prepare yourself for unyielding weirdness.
Reviewed in the United States on December 17, 2020
Fans of Jeff VanderMeer won’t think twice about falling into his latest world, a 650-page YA novel titled, A Peculiar Peril. When protagonist Jonathan Lambshead arrives at the mansion he inherited from his grandfather, a wild adventure begins featuring a gateway to place called Aurora, a different version of Earth. On the adventure, we find talking animals, and versions of Napoleon, Charlemagne and Kafka. Jonathan comes to appreciate his role to keep Aurora and Earth separated. The strange characters are delightful, especially the talking marmots, the fantasy enjoyable, and the writing weird and lighthearted.