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Shriek: An Afterword (Ambergris #2)

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  1,146 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
An epic yet personal look at several decades of life, love, and death in the imaginary city of Ambergris--previously chronicled in Jeff VanderMeer's acclaimed City of Saints & Madmen--Shriek: An Afterword relates the scandalous, heartbreaking, and horrifying secret history of two squabbling siblings and their confidantes, protectors, and enemies.

Narrated with flamboyan
Paperback, 345 pages
Published July 10th 2007 by Tor Books (first published 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,865)
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We book lovers can’t help speaking of authors as “the next ....” We’re always keeping our eyes open for the next Jane Austen or the next Ernest Hemingway or the next Salman Rushdie or the next Ursula K. LeGuin, and we gleefully trumpet their arrival in our reviews. Of course, what we really ought to be looking for is the first China Miéville, the first Lisa Moore, the first Neal Stephenson, the first Iain Banks, the first whomever. When we find those authors who are truly themselves, we’ve reall ...more
Dan Schwent
May 20, 2009 Dan Schwent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: new-weird
I've been waiting for Jeff VanderMeer to write a novel set in Ambergris since City of Saints and Madmen.

Thoughts from the halfway mark: The first half of the book is Janice Shriek telling the story of her brother Duncan's multiple successes and disgraces, from being a successful historian, to a pariah, to a successful teacher, to his fall from grace for a torrid affair with a student, as well as her own rise to being a player in the art world until her own fall. All the while, she alludes to Dun
Aug 27, 2007 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: weird-fiction
A review on the back of this book name-checks Nick Cave and "Hitchhikers Guide" -- please ignore the back of the book. I can't imagine anything less like Douglas Adams than this book.

If I had to write a review of this book based primarily on name-checks, my list would include: Mervyn Peake, Edward Gorey, H.P. Lovecraft, China Mievelle, and Tom Waits. VanderMeer's Ambergris setting has echoes of Gormanghast's crumbling antiquity, but with more of Amphigories twisted, Gothic humor thrown in (thin
Amy (Other Amy)
He said: "A machine. A glass. A mirror. A broken machine. A cracked glass. A shattered mirror." I remember now the way he used the phrases at his disposal. Clean, fine cuts. Great, slashing cuts. Fractures in the word and the world.

"Some things should not be articulated. Some words should never be used in exact combination with other words." My father said that once, while reading a scathing negative review of one of his essays. He said it with a tired little sigh, a joke at his expense. His who
Jul 02, 2014 Brooke rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2009
I find myself thinking about Shriek in the same way I thought about its predecessor, City of Saints and Madmen. In other words, I'm not sure quite what to think about it. It has all the things that made City good: lots of atmosphere, a city so well constructed and populated that it feels like I was immersed in it, the feeling that this place existed before VanderMeer put his pen to paper. However, like City, Shriek doesn't really work well as a whole. Despite the richness of the setting, which i ...more
Jan 04, 2011 Loren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

During my misspent youth and a fair bit of my adulthood, I steeped myself in more fantastic fiction that I care to admit. As one book rolled into another and another, a pattern began to emerge: When authors crafted their imaginary worlds, they tended to take one of two tacks. The first (exhibited to great effect by C.S. Lewis' Till We Have Faces and his Narnia series) borrowed tropes from ancient mythologies. The second involved expanding some extant reality until it be
Michael Harrel
Mar 22, 2009 Michael Harrel rated it it was amazing
I recently went through a harvest of Listmania lists on Amazon, from those I found on the page for China Meiville's "Perdido Street Station". It seemed like a promising way to break into reading the current "New Weird" fantasy sub-genre movement, uh, thing. (New Weird. It's a fairly ambiguous term, but generally, think Fantasy (often dark fantasy) with a more "modern" viewpoint and usually an urban (modern or pseudo-steampunk) setting, that sidesteps Tolkien's legacy when tracing its lineage (wh ...more
Mar 04, 2008 Chadwick rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: not you, certainly
Shelves: unfinished
I don't know, clever, but it just didn't do it. I think VanderMeer might be too fundamentally sane to accomplish the decadent style that he aspires to here. Get more insane, do more drugs, or be more French, Jeff. Otherwise you're S.O.L. Don't get me wrong, I think he can write, but I think he's not writing what he's suited for.
After having read the Southern trilogy, I am on a quest to read all of Jeff VanderMeer's novels. I had read a short story based in Ambergris before but had not cared that much for it, and the more I read his novels, the more clear it seems to me why I love them but I'm not (for now) going to read his short stories.
VanderMeer's novels are set in such weird worlds that they require an immense suspension of disbelief on the readers side, BUT his characters are so good, that you'll find yourself bel
fo jammi
Apr 02, 2007 fo jammi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the jaded, the obsequious, the wise
Tarted up in a fin de siecle gaudiness and moldering crepe, Jeff VanDerMeer's latest tale of the decadent and unusual goings-on in the fantastical city of Ambergris promises raised eyebrows and wry humour. A few chapters into the book, it seemed as though the affair might collapse in upon itself due to the towering preciousness of it's central conceit: that it is in actuality a hideously distended afterword penned by the failed art gallery owner Janice Shriek, to be appended to a travel guide wr ...more
Rafal Jasinski
Jun 17, 2011 Rafal Jasinski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Cholernie obawiałem się tej książki, bowiem przyzwyczaiłem się, do tego, że Jeff VanderMeer, podobnie, jak M. John Harrison, lubuje się w "dręczeniu" czytelnika na wiele rozlicznych sposobów: od prowadzenia fabuły niezwykle splątanymi ścieżkami - którymi podążając, nie wolno w żadnym wypadku pozwolić sobie na rozproszenie uwagi, należy zachować pełną koncentrację i czujność - poprzez kreację bohaterów, których motywacje są niejasne, losy zagmatwane a czyny irracjonalne, aż do doprowadzanie do k
Jan 24, 2010 Melanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is possibly the best book I have ever read. I loved the way the story is constructed. Janice Shriek, older sister of historian Duncan Shriek, tells the story of his life after he has disappeared into the underground of the city of Ambergris. Duncan has spent his life studying the gray caps, a mysterious race of mushroom people who were the initial inhabitants of the area. Duncan believes the gray caps are working on something sinister. "A machine. A glass. A mirror. A broken machine. A crac ...more
Jun 15, 2008 Drew rated it really liked it
I finished this book while on a road trip, over a week ago. At this point I don't know that I can really set down everything I have to say about it accurately--this review would have been more detailed had it been written when the book was still fresh in my mind. That noted, I did like this book a lot. It used some of the layered, metafictional techniques that VanderMeer used in "City Of Saints And Madmen", and acted as a sort of sequel to that book. "Shriek: An Afterword" is a biography of Dunc ...more
Bernie Mojzes
Sep 04, 2012 Bernie Mojzes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished this some time ago, and have been trying to formulate what to say about it. I think there are many ways to approach discussing Shriek, each with its own merits, its own sets of what-it-can-say and what-it-must-remain-silent-about. I'm pretty sure that whichever I choose, I won't do justice to it.

This is perhaps the best example of telling a story slant-wise, of the oblique entry, that I have read. There is a grand narrative of the fungal invasion of the city of Ambergris, of mysteriou
Aug 05, 2010 Simon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
My first novel by Jeff VanderMeer, I wasn't sure what to expect, nor am I quite sure what I got.

Well let's see; it's a fictional afterword written by a fictional character (Janice Shriek) to her brother's (Duncan Shriek) book which is a historical account of a fictional city (Ambergris) in a fictional world. But it's actually more of an account of her and her brother's lives since the death of their father that chronicles the ups and downs of their personal and professional fortunes. This accoun
Nov 11, 2007 Res rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The one where the life of historian Duncan Shriek is told by his sister, Janice, with annotations by Duncan after Janice dies. Abandoned at page 150.

I think there's probably a story in here somewhere. Things happen that would sound really exciting if I told you about them. But this is one of those books where you're given several unreliable sources and left to puzzle out what really happened between the lines of what they choose to tell you about, which means that there are layers and layers of
Oct 03, 2007 Rick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Jeff VanderMeer's wildly inventive new novel is the afterword to the nonexistent history of a fictional city. After completing the classic The Hoegbotton Guide to the Early History of Ambergris, controversial historian Duncan Shriek disappeared, leaving his sister Janice Shriek to supply the much-needed afterword.

Janice Shriek's piece evolves into a memoir of the siblings: their family, their loves, and, most importantly, their failures. Banned by the Court of Kalif – this reality's Catholic Chu
Lee Battersby
May 31, 2012 Lee Battersby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A stunning achievement: two highly unreliable narrators comment upon each other, one via the afterword to a biography of the other (the book we are reading), the other via annotations to the book itself, with an extra layer of meta-text waiting to be revealed as the book progresses... all wrapped up in the singularly odd "Real World Plus One" milieu of the city of Ambergris. Highly intelligent, beautifully literate, constantly treading a fine line between gothic tragedy, horror, and faded, crumb ...more
Feb 05, 2011 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-2011
3.5 stars. I felt the writing style and format were 5 stars, truly fabulous. Vandermeer writes with originality, flair, and is not afraid to be unique. This was a tough read for me, I found it difficult to make it through many parts of it. It is a true testament to how great Vandermeer can make things so exceptional that I was ablebto push through the slow, stagnate parts that left me wanting. Being that this is an Afterword, much of the book rambles on and stops the story line from moving forwa ...more
Andy Tischaefer
Well written if strange. Is it ok for me to say I like my weird fiction a little more straightforward?

It was successful in that it made me want to read more of VanderMeer and specifically about the city of Ambergris, but the story itself just didn't move me as much as I had hoped it would be. I expected more payoff, for whatever reason. When it hit, though, it hit hard - the war scenes in particular were pretty great and imaginative.

Overall I liked it and if the description intrigues you, it may
May 20, 2016 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Janet Shriek is the kind of character you want to hate - and put her book down halfway through. It's her brother Duncan who rescues this novel. Takes it from mere self-pity and dull rehashings of moments poorly remembered to the truly weird and wonderful. Vandermeer's Ambergris? It's the type of place you want to be true because it feels like it exists.

Oddly I came to the books the wrong way about. I read Finch first, at the recommendation of a good friend. Then I read City of Saints and Madmen
Dec 03, 2008 Melle rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pretentious "religion"-haters and tortured writers who enjoy pseudo-literary fantastical history
This book was an agonizing read -- unlikeable, underdeveloped characters; pathetic use of "literary" devices, including repetition, multiple narrators, and the use of braces; an unintelligible commentary on history, perspective, faith, politics; a fantasy world revolving around fungus... And the fact that character "Duncan Shriek" connotes (hopefully unintentionally) bland singer-songwriter Duncan Shiek.
Mar 08, 2016 Lisa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If you read books primarily for your enjoyment of the atmosphere they create, ignore this review and go buy the book. Van der Meer does a very good job of creating a mood that is by turns eerie, nostalgic and foreboding.

BUT. If you need a well-developed plot to go with your character development, don't waste your time. You walk away from the book being able to point out the characters on the street. But the tantalizing question of the identity and motivations of the grey caps is left largely un
Jan 25, 2010 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OUTSTANDING! will review soon- i'm so behind on reviews, hopefully catching up soon cause it's driving me nuts.
Aug 20, 2015 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: genre
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. A "dark" urban fantasy with a weird thing about fungi. Not generally my thing, but it was done well, and I simultaneously loved and despised both of the protagonists-narrarators. (Which I suppose only goes to show how three-dimensional the characters are.) The format of biography/memoir/history was actually really neat and well-done as well. That said, I found it frustrating how few solid answers there actually were; it worked well for the story b ...more
May 07, 2014 Janet rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I definitely was glad to step back into Ambergris, I didn't love this book the same way I love City of Saints and Madmen, and the main reason is this is just a heavier and more somber book. I loved the humor and interconnectedness of CoSaM, the way an aside could be either hilarious or terrifying. This book was still an interesting creepy journey, particularly the action sequences, and played in interesting ways with style with Duncan and Janice both being simultaneous unreliable narrators ...more
Joe Silber
This is a far more conventional and straightforward (though still a bit weird and experimental) follow-up to City of Saints and Madmen. Unlike that volume, "Shriek: An Afterword" is a single novel, though told in the form of an (extremely long) afterward to one of the novellas in "City". It's really more of a memoir, though, as Janice Shriek, art gallery owner, high-society partier, and brother to historian Duncan Shriek, tells their life stories as they rise and fall in Ambergrisian society.

I was told: “OMG, if you like Mieville, you will love Vandermeer!”. I clarified that I don’t like Mieville, I adore him; and sure, I’d look into other New Weird writers, because I’m always happy to discover new bizarre and baroque worlds.

Jeff Vandermeer has imagination in spades, that’s obvious the minute you crack any of his books open. Every book set in the city of Ambergris have a wonderfully dark, gritty, almost oppressively gothic atmosphere – something that I absolutely love. He clearly ha
I made two mistakes when starting this novel. The first being I should have read it shortly after finishing City of Saints and Madmen back in 2013, because there were events and people I vaguely recalled from that novel but not enough to make any definitive links (which is annoying to me). Second, I got about a third way through Finch before reading this one (wherein I stopped) so I had a few spoilers (that was also annoying). Oh well, I still thoroughly enjoyed this novel.

I just adore the tone
Mar 14, 2015 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What compels me about VanderMeer's books is that there is a level of unknown that remains unknown. Although the Gray Caps are central to the novel, they are never really revealed, nor explained which this typical reader is often seeking. But their exposure is not necessary, as even though this is a book of a fictional city and fictional characters, it is really about characters (us) and how we live in a world which has unseen influences upon us.

Almost like an acid trip where the environment arou
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Jeff VanderMeer's most recent fiction is the NYT-bestselling Southern Reach trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance), all released in 2014. The series has been acquired by publishers in 15 other countries and Paramount Pictures/Scott Rudin Productions have acquired the movie rights. His Wonderbook (Abrams Image), the world's first fully illustrated, full-color creative writing guide, won ...more
More about Jeff VanderMeer...

Other Books in the Series

Ambergris (3 books)
  • City of Saints and Madmen (Ambergris, #1)
  • Finch (Ambergris, #3)

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