This review originally posted on Hooked on Books
China Mieville is a brilliant fantasy writer. His work takes the genre to new and exciting places and his newest, Railsea, is no exception.
This book is an imaginative retelling of the Moby Dick story, but instead of a white whale there's a giant mole rat called Tracker Jack and instead of ships, there are trains. It's a crazy and intriguing premise and he totally makes it work. I haven't read Moby Dick before but I certainly want to now, just to see how this hold up against the original tale. The neat thing about this story, is instead of revealing the details of the fantasy world all at once - like you would expect - it is divulged layer but layer right up until the last few pages of the novel. I kept turning the pages, excited to see what else would be revealed to me.
As an added bonus, this novel is graced with amazing characters. The main character, Sham is a delight. Adventerous and headstrong yet cautious and naive. He dreams of a more exciting life - and who among us can't relate to that? The female characters - Caldera and Captain Naphi - we're especially well written. I loved Caldera attitude and I loved how complicated Captain Naphi turned out to be. I became heavily invested in these characters and where this adventure was going to take them.
If you need any further convincing that you should read this book, the prose has this rolling soothing quality to it. For a story so exciting and adventure filled, the writing was very calming. I was happy to be reading this book on an e-reader, so I could highlight all the passages I fell in love with. I have never highlighted a book so frequently.
I feel that Railsea is the type of book that every time you re-read it you'll find new things to love and appreciate, and because of that it has earned a permanent place on my bookshelf.
Final Recommendation: For Fantasy and Speculative Fiction fans who want a break from the same old same old and for literary fiction fans that want to be wowed.