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(Laundry Files #2.9)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  4,527 ratings  ·  377 reviews
The "Laundry" is Britain's super-secret agency devoted to protecting the realm from the supernatural horrors that menace it. Now Bob Howard, Laundry agent, must travel to the quiet English countryside to deal with an outbreak of one of the worst horrors imaginable. For, as it turns out, unicorns are real. They're also ravenous killers from beyond spacetime...
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ebook, 65 pages
Published October 16th 2013 by Tor Books (first published September 24th 2013)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  4,527 ratings  ·  377 reviews

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Jul 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Hello, Charles Stross, you’re my new friend.

Or, I guess mate I should say, since you’re English … or British? Scottish? What’s the proper term?

Anyway! Equoid, Stross’ 2013 ( again demonstrating that it is the greatest thing since the ansible) short work that won the 2014 Hugo Award for Best Novella is a really cool book and I enjoyed it in an eldritch and unspeakable way.

First of all, it was funny and told with wit and charm. Any writer who can come up with a simile like this:
Re-read 2/23/18:
As good as the first time, or perhaps better. And even when I know what's coming, I still shiver when all the implications are driven home. It doesn't matter how many times I've read this.

It still scares me shitless.

Original Review:

Oh my god that was a sharp one. I'm bowled over, not only because this was easily the best Bob Howard story I've read, including all of the novels, all of which I love, but because the tale was freaking sharp. There wasn't an ounce of fat on it, and
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Now this is what I call a good horror story!

Bob is called to a rural part of England to investigate a possible infestation of unicorns. The problem? They aren't fluffy white do-gooders that protect virgins like we know them from fairytales. These are the Lovecraftian version and let me tell you that they are bonechillingly wonderful!

There's a lot of smoke & mirrors going on which prompts wonderful investigative work amidst the typical dry humour about life-or-death assignments still being
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you want to read about some seriously weird, nasty, disturbing unicorns, grab yourself a copy of this free short story at

No rainbows, sparkles or virgins in sight.

The writing style was a little confusing in parts. Think a horror version of Harry Dresden/Peter Grant, just nastier. Some strange humour, to liven things up. The police station was a shambling gem.

It could help, if you like HP Lovecraft. I wouldn‘t know, as I have never read him.

Hugo Award
Nov 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Bob gets mucky in this one. The most Lovecraftian work I've read by Stross. To be fair, I've only read three short works and one full length novel, but this wins hands down. I've visited Sussex, it seemed like such a nice place, not here. Bucolic charms are twisted into a rather gruesome tale of grotesque glamour.

Do not trust unicorns. If you wish to remain a devotee of the sparkly joyous version of the species, do not read this. Yikes.
Jul 22, 2014 rated it did not like it
There will be a swear in this here review.


Here's the thing.

I don't care how snappy your prose is.
How complete your homage to H.P. Lovecraft.
How much horror genre cred you're building.
How clever your inversion of the unicorn mythos.
How niftily you turned a legend of gleaming purity into something coolly twisted and dark.
How much of a good guy author you are.

You do not get to include a scene graphically depicting the sexual mutilation, rape, and killing of a thirteen-year-old girl.

Unless you
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
My experience with Stross before this story? Nada. I have several of his books on my tbr but at this point you probably have a book on my list. I didn't realize this was set in the Laundry Files world so I wasn't sure how I felt about reading this out of sequence(I'm a little weird that way). In the end I don't think it made any difference but I will go back and start at the beginning with
The Atrocity Archives in the near future.

I guess you would call this urban fantasy, it reminds me of The
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
Oct 23, 2015 rated it really liked it

'What the hell do the love letters of that old fraud H. P. Lovecraft have to do with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs?'
I loved it. I am not surprised it won the 2014 Hugo Award for Best Novella.
This time Bob Howard is sent to the country. The assignment is 'right up to his street'. Since the title is revealing, you won't be surprised by the thing he finds. But you will have to admit it is pretty original take on that particular being.

Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
I have no idea why this story appealed to me as much as it did. It was funny, cleverly written, and original, and yet... parts of it were pretty horrifying/sick (and this somehow turned out to be a good thing!). I'm not even really sure how to classify this novella, except for maybe "Urban Fantasy Lovecraft." I really enjoyed this one, but it is definitely not for everyone. I would warn you to read a bit of a more in-depth description before deciding if this novella is really for you.
I had
May 17, 2014 rated it did not like it
Honestly, I wouldn't have tried to read this if it weren't a Hugo nominee. Given the Lovecraft connection+content warnings, I could predict I'd be unlikely to be into this, but given that it earned its place on the ballot fairly, I felt obliged to try it before voting. It started well enough: a humorous take on the horror of being an office drone with a Harry Dresden sort of weary hero. However, the descent into (view spoiler) ...more
Michael Burnam-Fink
Oct 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013, sci-fi
Stross's Laundry series is one of those concepts that is maddeningly obscure and yet awesome: Take equal parts Lovecraft Mythos, James Bond, and Bastard Sysop From Hell, season with British black humor and computer science jokes, pulp and that's the Laundry and it's brilliant.

In this novella (post-The Jennifer Morgue, pre-The Fuller Memorandum), Bob is up against flesh-eating alien parasites that look like horses and spread via mind-controlled girls. In short, unicorns, and they're out for
Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. Good paranormal horror short about Bob being sent forth to hunt for unicorns, which have rather more tentacles and carnivory than Bob (or the reader) expects. This won the Hugo for Best Novella in 2014 and you can read it for free!
Jul 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fourteen-year-old gynophobic virgins, My Little Pony fans
I haven't read any of Stross's Laundry novels, but I've read a few of his short stories, so I know the premise: "the Laundry" is the codename for a secret British intelligence service whose job is to prevent zombie outbreaks, demonic possession, and invasions of our world by eldritch horrors from beyond the stars. Stross tells these stories with a mix of dark humor and horror — the Laundry is made up of clever civil servants saving the world on a regular basis, but they're still a civil service ...more
Dec 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
"A host of small tentacles appeared around its open end, and it began to haul itself on suckers across the decay-slicked stones, proceeding in the direction of the stable doors & the darkness that I could even then sense lurking within." In Charles' Stross' Lovecraftian novella Equoid, we have poisonous cone snails, feral unicorns, a countrified farm/livery stable where all has run slub-slub, and an agent by the name of Bob Howard who works for a secret government agency known as "The ...more
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-books, read-2017
4.5 Stars

Awesome science fiction thriller / horror / mystery. I loved the start of this series it is tailor made to my likes. This is my first Stross novel even though he has been on my to read list for a very long time.

Great characters.
Great world.
Great science fiction.
And more.

I really liked it.

This is a novella with HPL unicorns!
P. Kirby
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shockingly entertaining given the fact that it's Hugo nominated fiction and therefore has high potential to be a pretentious load of idea-driven unicorn poop. (Especially since the author's bio contains the words "hard science fiction," an anathema to character-based storytelling.)

Equoid is apparently elaborating on the events that took place in an earlier novel.(?) H.P. Lovecraft, he of the unreadable purple prose, must figure prominently in said work, and Equoid is in part an explanation of
Daniel (Attack of the Books!) Burton
Equoid by Charles Stross is a Hugo winner, in a year that's had quite a bit of controversy. Initially, I was impressed by the story, but the more I think about it, the less I am. Intelligent, articulate, and witty, it has undercurrents that are dark and disturbing.

It's hard not to see echoes of Larry "Lord of Hate" Correia in Charles Stross' Equoid. Sure, there are fewer guns in Equoid than, well, anything that Correia writes, but I suspect that's only because Correia knows his firearms better
Paranormal bureaucracy and a tongue-in-cheek British X-Files-y department investigating, essentially, a creature feature plaguing the English countryside. Equoid was well-written and kinda witty (but more by way of smiling wryly to myself than laugh-out-loud funny? I dunno, I just have pretty exacting standards when you can really really tell the author is trying to be witty; it takes a very deft hand to pull it off effortlessly, a la Douglas Adams).

The novella is truly, utterly horrific and
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of smart and snarky contemporary horror
Brainycat's 5 "B"s:
blood: 3
boobs: 1
bombs: 0
bondage: 0
blasphemy: 4
Bechdel Test: FAIL
Deggan's Rule: FAIL
Gay Bechdel Test: FAIL

Please note: I don't review to provide synopses, I review to share a purely visceral reaction to books and perhaps answer some of the questions I ask when I'm contemplating investing time and money into a book.

If you like the Laundry series, you'll like this short. It's a very quick read and treads well worn ground, but all the things I like about the Laundry are in
Jun 20, 2014 rated it liked it
I would recommend this to people who like H.P. Lovecraft and unicorns. Well, actually, unicorns don't come off too well in the book, so maybe if you like Lovecraft and dislike unicorns. Lovecraft doesn't come off too well either, but I think that's because he's a character in a universe where the horrors are real and where his books don't always accurately describe the horrors. So I think if you like Lovecraft, you're still on target to like this book.

I don't really like Lovecraft. I am up in
Nick Cato
Jun 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Gods... I couldn't have enjoyed this more! Except if it was much longer!
This is copy 34 of 350 signed and numbered copies. Signed by Charles Stross.
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really, really, creepy.

And, not to mention, excellent explanation of why H.P. Lovecraft was a horror writer and a misogynist.
Ben Rowe
May 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People with short attention spans
This was the first Stross I read and it will quite possibly be my last although I will not completely rule it out. I can see Stross' appeal with other readers but I cannot quite share it.

I kept changing my mind about the book almost every paragraph. Is this fun, disposable entertainment, or dull derivative and intensely annoying...?

Is does he write in a flowing or stilted style?

Is this exciting or am I just bored?

I do not think it helped that I am not very familiar with the Lovecraft mythos and
Sep 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This one is fucking amazing. I mean I do like Stross, in fact I think he is one of the greatest living SF/FF writers out there.
This Novella, as all his Laundry series is a bit of an aquired taste, maybe, for some, as you need to be a bit geeky / nerdy, preferrably know / hate a thing or two about IT, and have a certain opinion about the 'Breast from Redmond', or commonly known as Microsoft :)

While the other stories / books of the Laundry series are good fund and even better entertainment at high
Jul 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
I've previously read a couple of Stross' Laundry novels, I thought their combination of semi-comic spy novel with Lovecraftian horror was entertaining without necessarily being anything special. This novella (apparently set after the second Laundry book) does feel similar to those books but I think the horror elements of the story are more effective than in the novels. Some of the scenes are genuinely horrific, both in the fictional letter written by H.P. Lovecraft explaining a traumatic event ...more
I am not a fan of horror or H.P. Lovecraft, so this story and I are a really bad fit. i read it because of Hugo nomination (and inclusion in Some of the Best From, 2013), and I did have the advantage of previously reading (and not really caring for) The Atrocity Archives, which began the "Laundry" fantasy/sf fusion series. (I do however enjoy the author's other works, such as Halting State and Saturn's Children.)

At any rate, the story centers on evil unicorns from Lovecraft's
MB (What she read)
Apr 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: cross Thelwell's Ponies with Cold Comfort Farm with HP Lovecraft and you have....
Be sure and pay attention to the Publisher's warning. This is graphic and not for those with weak stomachs.

I think this has been my favorite Laundry story so far. The monster involved is truly creative and cringe-inducing. (view spoiler)
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Sci-fi and Heroic...: Equoid by Charles Stross 14 51 May 29, 2014 09:24AM  

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Charles David George "Charlie" Stross is a writer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. His works range from science fiction and Lovecraftian horror to fantasy.

Stross is sometimes regarded as being part of a new generation of British science fiction writers who specialise in hard science fiction and space opera. His contemporaries include Alastair Reynolds, Ken MacLeod, Liz Williams and Richard Morgan.


Other books in the series

Laundry Files (10 books)
  • The Atrocity Archives (Laundry Files, #1)
  • The Jennifer Morgue (Laundry Files, #2)
  • The Fuller Memorandum (Laundry Files, #3)
  • The Apocalypse Codex (Laundry Files, #4)
  • The Rhesus Chart (Laundry Files, #5)
  • The Annihilation Score (Laundry Files, #6)
  • The Nightmare Stacks (Laundry Files, #7)
  • The Delirium Brief (Laundry Files, #8)
  • The Labyrinth Index (Laundry Files, #9)
  • Dead Lies Dreaming (The Laundry Files, #10)
“You wouldn’t believe the scope for mischief that the Beast of Redmond unintentionally builds into its Office software by letting it execute macros that have unlimited access to the hardware. I remember a particular post-prandial PowerPoint presentation where I was one of only two survivors (and the other wasn’t entirely human). However, this is the first time I’ve seen a Word document eat a man’s soul.” 8 likes
“[...] Howard Phillips Lovecraft of Providence, Rhode Island, for cultivating a florid and overblown prose style that covered the entire spectrum from purple to ultraviolet and took sixteen volumes of interminable epistles to get to the point [...]” 6 likes
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