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A Peculiar Peril

(Misadventures of Jonathan Lambshead #1)

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  1,054 ratings  ·  284 reviews
The first book in a new YA fantasy duology from a bestselling genre-expanding master, about a teenager who embarks on a quest to protect the world from an alternate universe where magic abounds and history has been rewritten.

After Jonathan Lambshead’s elusive grandfather dies, the recently orphaned teenager inherits the family mansion—and its contents. Jonathan soon discov
Hardcover, 656 pages
Published July 7th 2020 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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Nicholas Perez I assume Lamb's head as that's typically how the surname is pronounced. …moreI assume Lamb's head as that's typically how the surname is pronounced. (less)

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Average rating 3.32  · 
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Start your review of A Peculiar Peril (The Misadventures of Jonathan Lambshead, #1)
EDIT: If you are a Jeff VanderMeer devotee or if you thoroughly enjoyed A Peculiar Peril, I'm happy for you. My review is not a positive one (I know, how dare I?) so if you are the kind of reader who gets 'ruffled' when someone criticises a book they love, please skip my review. No need to leave a comment along the lines of 'you can't assume what others will like' or 'you just didn't get it'. How about reading some positives reviews instead?

2 ½ stars

“That doesn't make sense. Nothing in this d
Spencer Orey
I like this book more when thinking about it in conversation with other Narnia-related books like Lev Grossman's The Magicians. There's a freshness to the politics, even when things get a little overwhelmed by weirdness. And there is a lot of weirdness, bringing us into scattered viewpoints of a fractured animal kingdom and the strange white boy from our world who ends up having to try to help everyone.

I'll be really selective about who I recommend this book to, not because it's bad (it's often
Jun 03, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: giveaways, 2020
This sounds like a Lemony Snicket title tbh

*Thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux & Goodreads for an advance copy!
Renee Godding
Aug 19, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-releases
DNF at 59%

A Peculiar Peril is Jeff Vandermeers first dive into the YA-genre and follows Jonathan Lambshead, who has recently inherited his grandfather’s large mansion. As he sets out with two of his friends to clear the house, the find more than they bargained for: grandpa proves to have been quite the collector of rare and supernatural objects. This kicks off an absurdist adventure featuring occult societies, hidden enemies, talking vegetables, a talkative disembodied head and much more.

I have
Tucker  (TuckerTheReader)
there's a new cover in town and it's vying for Wilder Girls spot at #1

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Joseph Dolan
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I received this ARC from Jeff after a wonderously weird trip my wife and I took to Tallahassee to a book signing at a brewery followed by a tour around his home. This preamble is not meant as some boast, but rather a confession on my part, as I'm not fully convinced that I didn't crash my car on the late-night drive down south and that the trip in it's entirety as well as the experience of reading this book have not been some last few seconds of life fever dream. This book is weird, but not weir ...more
Jeff VanderMeer is one of my favorite authors. I really enjoy how creative and weird his works are, and this is no exception.

A Peculiar Peril is the first book in VanderMeer’s new young adult duology. With his mother missing and his grandfather dead, Jonathan Lambshead inherits his grandfather’s mansion. He is tasked with cataloging its contents, so he enlists the help of his friends, Rack and Danny. However, Jonathan finds three doors that lead to other worlds. One leads to an alternate versio
Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*
Only Jeff VanderMeer can take a book with a mansion full of oddities, an alternate Earth with magic, talking vegetables, giant marmots, hedgehogs riding roosters into battle, disembodied heads of historical figures, living shadows, giant mecha-crocs, and make it boring.

That's not true. Many authors could make this boring. I would not have predicted that Jeff VanderMeer would be one of them, but there you have it.

In volume one (really, Books One and Two) of the ostensibly "for young adults ages
I've read an ARC of the first three chapters, verbose and stylistic, overwrought and actually quite dull.

Not for me the remainder of this work.
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Update: I am done! This was a 2-month labor of reading. A fun, mess-with-your-head, when-will-you-shut-up-Jeff-but-keep-talking, Kafka is a WHAT? type of reading journey. It was a little exhausting but I genuinely liked it. Minor spoiler: (view spoiler) ...more
Annie (Putt)
I DNFed this 44% through it.
2.5 stars

I was hooked the first 20% through this story, but it just. Kept. Going. Nothing was changing, and more of the book descended into nonsense that made the story have little to no sense. A lot of information was being kept from the reader, and the only reason I can figure that is because it made the big reveals seem better once the reader was told certain things. Characters would have thoughts regarding situations going on and make comments about how they "knew
I have been lucky enough to read over 200 arcs and this is the first time I’ve ever had to move it to the dnf pile. I work very hard to always finish a book because it’s been provided to read and review to help potential readers find their new favorites and I tried so hard to get through this and I just can’t any more.

“A Peculiar Peril” is a book that at times went well over my head with what it was trying to accomplish and others seemed so childlike in its language that I was never able to mak
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Definitely a highlight of this year.
DNF at 30%

*le sigh*

I've been trying to read this for a week and a half. It's just not happening.

While I normally enjoy reading strange, nonsensical, out of the box concepts, this one still somehow managed to lose my attention.

I appreciate how wacky and creative the creatures and whatnot are, but the story's pacing is soooo slow. The book is over 600 pages, and it truly has no real reason to be that long. This plot probably would've benefited from some editing and major paring down. It seemed alm
The Artisan Geek
I love VanderMeer's work!! Can't wait to see him venture into YA! :D
Also super happy to see birds and plants on the cover!!

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Jamie Curtis
Nov 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sixteen year old Jonathan Lambshead is informed that he is to inherit his estranged, eccentric grandfather Dr Thackery Lambshead's estate, including his ramshackled mansion. However in a handwritten note his grandfather states that to claim the mansion he must first catalogue and detail the contents of the strange 'cabinet of curiosities' in the basement...............

Elsewhere, Aleister Crowley has occupied France with an Army of demi mages, wraiths, giant elephants in his quest to conquer Euro
Micala Ross
Jun 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received this book from a goodread’s giveaway for review.

“Reports from his spies in Bavaria of sightings of a mythical being, half hedgehog, half man, riding a giant rooster, stoked his rage.”

This line appears on page 26 of my edition and really represented the tone of the entire book. This is not a book for everyone. Most people will probably stop trying between 50-100 pages. I have already looked at the few reviews up and this seems to be the general consensus.
To Be fair, I clicked on this
May 19, 2020 rated it did not like it
DNF at ~80%. I know it's dumb, but I'm trying to avoid the sunk cost fallacy, and if I haven't been able to bring myself to finish this book in two months, I'm probably never going to finish it.
So what's the problem? To start, this book is pretty bog-standard portal fantasy -- reluctant protag discovers strange new world, is thrust into its politics, goes on an epic quest to save it from descent into evil. There isn't anything original or creative about the core idea. This is not in and of itse
Aug 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
You know how people sometimes talk about books being "chock full" or "stuffed with" or "bursting with" or similar phrases? Well, Jeff's latest actually is those things. It has been a long time since I've felt like the inert paper object I was holding was in fact just waiting for me to let down my guard and it would explode into the room, no longer bound by its boards and edges.

This is, yes, Jeff's "young adult" novel (first in a duology, although technically there are two full-sized books insid
Jonathan Hawpe
I hate not finishing books. Especially ones by authors whose work I have enjoyed greatly. I LOVE Vandermeer's adult stuff, and I was excited to see him tackle YA lit. I had fun with this for a while, but just completely ran out of steam after the halfway point. It reminded me of early Terry Gilliam movies like Time Bandits (which I love) or sort of a darker version of the zany, funny SF&F of Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett (which I have enjoyed.) But those works really benefit from being succin ...more
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If a hookah smoking caterpillar read The Magician's Nephew, Then watched some horror flix, THEN wrote a book the resulting book would be something like this. ...more
Jennie Damron
Dec 23, 2020 rated it liked it
This was the strangest book I have ever read. It was nonsense trying to make some semblance of sense. I think my main issue is there was just too much going on. The plot had me captivated enough to see the story through to it's finish so there is that. I would have loved to know more about Jonathan who he is and the abilities he has. But, no I had to learn about tufts of dandelion flying about to spy on Crowley and Wretch who want to take over the world. I love crazy and weird, but this was just ...more

I actually liked it. A lot funnier than I expected. And pleasantly bizarre. But too long and meandering. Made it to about 50% before I realized I didn’t really care to find out what happens.
cardulelia carduelis
Sep 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: discarded
Oh dear oh dear.
I loved the Southern Reach Trilogy and both Borne and the Strange Bird. I love Vandermeer's blog where he muses on strangeness and the slow apocalypse. I also admire the anthologies of fiction him and his wife have curated over the years (The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories being my favourite).
But this was just not it. The meaty hooks, the subtle craft, the wonder and horror of his worlds is not present here at all. Instead we have two flat stages: a big house fu
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
“You know what I’d love? Just personally? Just if I had my druthers? Which I never get to have. If you’d shut your traps. Every last one of you. Even you, Danny. Just the once. Shut your damn traps. Shut ‘em. Shut them right up. I am so unbearably sick of hearing your complaints. Your whining. Your inane level of discourse.”—A Peculiar Peril by Jeff VanderMeer

SO. This book. I’m not a liar, so I’ll admit: it was primarily the cover that made me pick up this book. Like, it was the NUMBER ONE REAS
DNF - the first 100 pages weren't terrible, but the thought of 550 more made me tired. ...more
Apr 25, 2020 marked it as looks-interesting  ·  review of another edition
Amazon told me you could download a sneak peek of this book by May 1st:

Feb 03, 2021 added it
am not going to rate this because I am definitively not the target audience for this book! it was incredibly fun to read jeff vdm write in a really different genre and tone than what I know him for. some of this I felt was trying way too hard to be twee and weird but I doubt I would have felt that way at like fifteen so it's a moot point. ...more
Aug 26, 2020 rated it did not like it
Oh how I wanted to like this book... but VanderMeer's style just did not work in this context. His lack of character development, focus on atmosphere, and word play are at home in dreamy, futuristic stories like the Borne and Southern Reach series. Here, in a narrative build around characters, the lack of development leaves the reader not really caring about the characters (some of whom aren't really likable to begin with). The lack of world building results in a confusing mess, and the word pla ...more
Aug 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
The two stars are for the gorgous cover, and for the setting. The rest of it - Jonathan's grandfather dies - who? - leaving his orphaned grandson - who is? - the family mansion and its contents - where? - on the condition he catalog its contents - TEENAGER? - but there are portals in the basement - okay - and Jonathan learns of his destiny - who says? - to protect our world - thanks but no thanks - from an alt-earth called Aurora - here we go with another doorstopper fantasy. I don't know if I'v ...more
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NYT bestselling writer Jeff VanderMeer has been called “the weird Thoreau” by the New Yorker for his engagement with ecological issues. His most recent novel, the national bestseller Borne, received wide-spread critical acclaim and his prior novels include the Southern Reach trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance). Annihilation won the Nebula and Shirley Jackson Awards, has been translat ...more

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