Lori L (She Treads Softly) 's Reviews > Shriek: An Afterword

Shriek by Jeff VanderMeer
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's review
Mar 15, 2011

really liked it
Read in January, 2011

Shriek: An Afterword by Jeff VanderMeer is his first novel set in the fungus-laden city of Ambergris, which was introduced in the City of Saints and Madmen collection. We were introduced to siblings Janice and Duncan Shriek in City of Saints and Madmen. This afterword, written by Janice to accompany Duncan's The Early History of Ambergris, is a memoir, or autobiography, of their lives. It also tries to explain, among other things, Duncan's obsession with and theories about the underground-dwelling mushroom people, or Gray Caps, and his ill-fated relationship with Mary Sabon.

While Janice wrote this afterword after she presumed Duncan was dead, Duncan finds her manuscript after it was written and comments about what Janice has written, which is shown to us in brackets as we read the text. So we are getting both points of view about the same incidents, which are told in the form of flashbacks. The whole novel foreshadows one pivotal confrontation that is told in completion at the end.

VanderMeer is an excellent writer and the development of his characters is exceptional. In many ways this is a character study set in a mythical universe - it's fantasy, but with elements of science fiction. I guess it's also classified as steampunk.

The whole, totally unique mushroom/fungus infested world already has a history established, so I can't imagine reading Shriek without having first read City of Saints and Madmen. They are really interconnected. Additionally, Shriek is not an easy read and, even though it does get a bit repetitious at times (enough with the flesh necklace, already), it is well worth the time you'll invest in following the story.
Highly Recommended - but only after reading City of Saints and Madmen; http://shetreadssoftly.blogspot.com/

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