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An epic about three friends on a quest to protect the world from a threat as unknowable as it is terrifying.

Jonathan Lambshead stands to inherit his deceased grandfather’s overstuffed mansion—a veritable cabinet of curiosities—once he and two schoolmates catalog its contents. But the three soon discover that the house is filled with far more than just oddities: It holds clues linking to an alt-Earth called Aurora, where the notorious English occultist Aleister Crowley has stormed back to life on a magic-fueled rampage across a surreal, through-the-looking-glass version of Europe replete with talking animals (and vegetables).

Swept into encounters with allies more unpredictable than enemies, Jonathan pieces together his destiny as a member of a secret society devoted to keeping our world separate from Aurora. But as the ground shifts and allegiances change with every step, he and his friends sink ever deeper into a deadly pursuit of the profound evil that is also chasing after them.

304 pages, ebook

First published July 7, 2020

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About the author

Jeff VanderMeer

224 books13k followers
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 translated into 35 languages, and was made into a film from Paramount Pictures directed by Alex Garland. His nonfiction has appeared in New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Atlantic, Slate, Salon, and the Washington Post. He has coedited several iconic anthologies with his wife, the Hugo Award winning editor. Other titles include Wonderbook, the world’s first fully illustrated creative writing guide. VanderMeer served as the 2016-2017 Trias Writer in Residence at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He has spoken at the Guggenheim, the Library of Congress, and the Arthur C. Clarke Center for the Human Imagination.

VanderMeer was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, but spent much of his childhood in the Fiji Islands, where his parents worked for the Peace Corps. This experience, and the resulting trip back to the United States through Asia, Africa, and Europe, deeply influenced him.

Jeff is married to Ann VanderMeer, who is currently an acquiring editor at Tor.com and has won the Hugo Award and World Fantasy Award for her editing of magazines and anthologies. They live in Tallahassee, Florida, with two cats and thousands of books.

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5 stars
296 (16%)
4 stars
458 (25%)
3 stars
557 (30%)
2 stars
324 (18%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 438 reviews
August 27, 2021
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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 damn world makes sense.”

A Peculiar Peril is a 600 pages tome of a book that is made to feel even longer thanks to its heavily bombastic prose. Would I recommend this book to anyone? Not really.
Then again, if you like absurdist tales a la Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, fantastical genre-bending stories, such as the ones penned by Susanna Clarke and Diana Wynne Jones, and hallucinogenic mushrooms, you might actually find A Peculiar Peril to be a thoroughly entertaining read.

To begin with, I was actually quite intrigued by Jeff VanderMeer's intentionally ludicrous writing style. He has a very Dickensian way of playing around with the English language and I did find these early chapters to be amusing. But then, the outlandishness just kept going, and going, and going, and going. This book was so intent on being quirky and droll that it kind of disregarded everything else so we end up with a generic 'quest' storyline and a cast of one-dimensional characters that would have been more suited to a sitcom.
For all its peculiarities, A Peculiar Peril isn't an incredibly inventive Portal Fantasy book. Jonathan Lambshead, our hero, an orphaned teenager, inherits his recently deceased grandfather's mansion. There is a bind: to inherit, Jonathan has to first catalogue the contents of said mansion. Given its size, and the amount of weird items that reside under its roof, Jonathan asks two friends of his to help him. Jonathan and his friends communicate less like 'modern' teenagers than characters straight out of Brideshead Revisited. While I understand that this emphasises their class and privileged background it also made any references to modern things kind of jarring.
As the three are trying to make sense of the Jonathan's grandfather many oddities, they end up walking through a magical door, straight into Aurora. Here things are quite different: magic is the norm and Aleister Crowley, alongside his grotesque not-so-familiar familiar, is a tyrant who is trying to take over the world. For reasons I have yet to understand the three kids decide to aid the Order—which is intent on stopping Aleister—by joining one of its member as she travels here and there. Although their journey is derailed, they, funnily enough, always seem to be on the right track. They end up having quite a few 'accidental' crucial encounters.
There are also chapter focused on Aleister. These were even more over-the-top, so that each sentence is desperately trying to be comical. Aleister's deranged plans and nonsensical ideas are made into an endless source of humour. The dynamic between him and his familiar, a creature called Wretch, was kind of interesting, and I did find Napoleon's head (yes, you read that correctly) to be amusing.
We also get chapters following two members of the Order. They play a rather irrelevant role in the story and I think that the novel would have been better, or at least a wee bit less meandering, without them.
There are also some chapters that are just plain bizarre in that they revolve around characters who seem to come out of the blue (especially the one about a puppet and the one about a woman and a baby).
Most of the characters are meant to be funny...and it was exhausting. One of Jonathan's friend was perpetually snarky and used a jargon more suited to a work by Agatha Christie while the other one was incessantly positive and ended most of her phrases with 'yeah?' (she was the most annoying character in the whole book).
There were a few alternative historical figures that, once again, briefly held my interest but they play such a minor role in the story (and they are there for the 'lols').
This novel has 0 world-building. We are just thrown in Aurora where magic just happens. That's kind of it. There are brief snippets alluding to this world's origins but these seem thrown in as a mere afterthought. The setting too was completely nondescript so that I was always left wanting to know where a certain scene was taking place (in a palace? Outdoors? On top of a war elephant? Who knows!).
The book's real focus is not its story nor its characters but the language. VanderMeer seems to have a real field day. The writing is made up of things like “Just another slog through a bog” and “Naturally. Or unaturally”. If you can describe something with a word or a sentence, rest assured that VanderMeer will not: “So we call them by other names. Ordinary names. Absurd names. The more ridiculous the name, the better” and “The Golden Sphere thought It knew what that might bet about but all in good time. All in the goodest of times.”
There are also plenty of comedic episodes that feature characters misunderstanding each other: so when someone says “message” the other one will say “massage?”.
Or 'funny' exchanges such as:

“Could I kill you with an ax?”
“Could I kill you with a hammer?”
“Could I kill you with a cannon?”
“Could I kill you with a crossbow?”
“Could I kill you with a bag over your … head?”
“Could I kill you with a magic spell?”
“Could I kill you with several days of starvation?”
“Could I kill you with a drought?”
“Could I kill you with water?”
“Could I kill you with a conjured monster?”
“Could I kill you with a well-aimed blow to your most vulnerable … part?”
“Could I kill you with a disease?”
“Could I kill you with a stick?”

Continual attempts at humour aside, the verbose style was just so dense. Getting through this novel felt like a chore...or as if I was mired in molasses.
While this novel succeeds in being weird (we have giant snails, talking carrots & potatoes, a dangerous schoolmarm, a unique sort of gun, and the list goes on and on) it left me wanting. The generic storyline, the thinly rendered characters, the unrelenting humour, and the rambling writing were hard to digest. I ended up skimming through the last 30% as I was, by then, ready to be done.
While I can sort of see what this novel was trying to accomplish, I'm left wondering: what was the point of it?

Read more reviews on my blog / / / View all my reviews on Goodreads
Profile Image for Spencer Orey.
527 reviews117 followers
November 11, 2020
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 quite good!) but because it's so odd that it is definitely not for everyone. I think it's an especially strange choice to market this as YA. I actually can't imagine many teenagers liking this? But surely there are some rare teens out there for whom this is totally their jam. I hope it is.
Profile Image for Nicholas Perez.
371 reviews90 followers
February 25, 2022
That took for forever!!

How to describe A Peculiar Peril, Jeff VanderMeer's YA debut? Well, this book is what would happen if The Chronicles of Narnia and Alice in Wonderland had a one-night stand with each other, but both of their drinks were spiked by Lemony Snicket. Then, night months later The Chronicles of Narnia and Alice in Wonderland had their out of wedlock child that was delivered by Dr. Artemis Fowl and his doula H.P. Lovecraft. The Chronicles of Narnia and Alice in Wonderland named their child A Peculiar Peril and it grew up healthly while reading absurdist and Gothic novels and while attending school with Harry Potter and then graduated from college with a degree in weird fiction and now runs a modest law firm, specializing In Just About Anything Weird and now lives in southern Florida with its beloved spouse and ten children.

Point blank: The blurbs were right. This book is WEEEEIIRRRDDD.
But God dang it, I actually liked it.

What A Peculiar Peril is truly about is a teenager named Jonathan Lambshead, the grandson of Thackery Lambshead, a.k.a the titular, eccentric doctor of the VanderMeer edited anthologies The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases and The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities. It is not required to read anything in those anthologies to understand this story, it just gives it a nice meta twist. Jonathan, whose mother Sarah has gone missing after a trip to the Alps, is summoned by Thackery's estate agent Stimply to his mansion. Thackery has recently passed and per his will he has assigned Jonathan some vague, weird tasks to clean out and organized the mansion. Jonathan is joined by his friend Danny and her adoptive brother Rack and they soon discover three doors hidden away in the basement of the mansion. Those three doors lead them to Aurora, an alternate world where infamous occultist Aleister Crowley is trying to take over an alternate form of Europe and searching for a living Golden Orb. Jonathan and his friends are joined by Mamoud and Alice, two members of a mysterious order than Jonathan's grandfather was apart of, as they search for the Golden Orb and other objects of power. Crowley, on the other hand, is aided by the severed head of Napoleon and his demonic familiar Wretch as they try to find the same objects and Jonathan. Additionally, there are the perspectives of a Czech magician named Kristýna and her Maori friend Mack; the Golden Sphere itself, whose personality is literally just Miss Piggy from The Muppets; and Ruth Less, an animate plant woman who devours just about anything in sight.

So, I understand some of the lower reviews and DNFs. In the beginning, the book does meander a bit and is slow-paced. The book does pick up after awhile, but this isn't some quick paced action story. The book is one of the most absurd things I have ever read. It does not care for the laws of reality and conventional story-telling. To clarify, there is a straightforward plot here, but there's a lot of diversions along the way.

This story-telling may affect some readers view of the worldbuilding and magic system. The worldbuilding isn't that complicated. We learn that there are multiple worlds/realities out there, but Aurora and our Earth are the main focus and both are pretty well-established as being absolute bonkers (Aurora) and being normal (Earth). We also know that certain beings and people can traverse worlds through certain magics. There's also a handful of different species in Aurora, including humans, that exist in different ways. There's again, the humans; the Celestial Beats, who are some of the most terrifying and powerful physical beings in Aurora; talking animals (directly influenced by The Chronicles of Narnia); emissary shades who lost their original physical, humans forms; and then there's the Builders who are mentioned but never appear, but from what I know they are probably all-powerful, eldritch gods/horrors/things whom even speaking their true names and the true names of their creations will induce unspeakable horror. The magic system was a bit stranger to me. It is established that there is older, chaotic magic--emanating from the Builders and apart of the talking animals--and newer magic created by all the human magicians. It's made clear that if humans use too much of their own magic, especially if they are from another world, they will fade. Other than that, there wasn't too much description on how the magic worked. It was just, well, magic.

The characters are all colorful people in their own way. Danny and Rack outshine the most, being foils to each other and Jonathan. Danny is a very positive and peppy girl, but she isn't dumb and knows when to be serious. It is also briefly mentioned that she is bisexual. Rack, who is half-Danish, half-Korean, is the no-nonsense guy who was born an old man (not literally). Sometimes you rooted for Danny's positivity and sometimes you were just like "Wow. Rack is me right now."

Jonathan, our main protagonist, was a bit emotionally distant in the beginning. This may have been a psychological response to being without his mother, learning his grandfather died, not ever knowing who his father was, and being frustrated with Stimply's riddles. Teenage boys do usually repress their emotions. Those who followed my progress know that some of these things do get answered, I won't spoil them here. Eventually, Jonathan does open up and he gets more fleshed out. It is also mentioned casually that he is asexual. I did feel for Jonathan, but I do hope he blossoms more in the next book.

Out of the other characters, Crowley's paranoia, Napoleon's stubbornness despite being decapitated, the Golden Sphere's moodiness, and Ruth Less' macabre yet childlike wonder of the world were all enjoyable. Mamoud, Alice, Mack, and Kristýna had important arcs of their own--one of which is super important towards the end--but they didn't stand out like the others.

All in all this was wild ride and I am excited for the next one. 4/5 stars.

I think I was on acid reading this.
Profile Image for Renee Godding.
584 reviews558 followers
September 8, 2020
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 loved everything I’ve read before this by Vandermeer, mostly for his unique talent to unsettle me on an almost instinctual level. Vandermeers books are hard to classify within a genre, but I’d describe them as fantasy-horror. When you look at his most famous works Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy and Borne, neither have big scary monsters jumping out at you from the pages, yet both share this undertone of almost existential dread that comes from knowing something is wrong, yet not being able to put in in words.
When I read the premise of this book, I was really hoping to find that same undertone in here. Honestly: mysterious-house-setting, family secrets and Vandermeers abstract dread sounds like my perfect book. Unfortunately, that’s not what A Peculiar Peril is.
Where Annihilation was personal trauma combined with Lovecraftian horror, A Peculiar Peril is Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glasscombined with the absurdist humour of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. A lot of absurdist humour . I’d say the majority of this book is increasingly verbose prose, intentionally idiotic conversations and caricature characters. The story is okay, the characters are “quirky” yet flat, and the world is so bizarre that it can be hard to even comprehend it enough to get immersed. This is going to divide readers into two distinct camps: the ones who like its humour (which I fear is the minority), and the ones who don’t. For me, in the latter group, I didn’t feel this book had anything else to offer.

If this is the direction that Jeff Vandermeer is going to go with his YA-works, I think I’ll have to stay away from those for the foreseeable future. It’s an interesting niche-choice, and I have to say it does suit him. Unfortunately, unlike his adult works, this niche just isn’t for me.
Profile Image for Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*.
770 reviews124 followers
November 17, 2020
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 eight to eighty" The Wacky Misadventures of Jonathan Lambshead, Jonathan Lambshead, an orphan (mom lost years ago in the Swiss Alps and presumed dead, father unknown) stands to inherit his quirky grandfather's estate if he can catalogue what turns out to be a hoarder mansion. (Said grandfather was previously invented by VanderMeer as editor of the 2003 anthology The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases.) Jonathan enlists his boarding school mates, sister Danny and adopted brother Rack (also both orphans), to help him in this affair. But Jonathan already knows that there is weird stuff going on because of cryptic letters from his grandfather about secret doors and bird-children. The trio decide to involve themselves for unconvincing reasons with wartime events in an alternate magical version of Earth, called Aurora, and a bunch of weird stuff happens and Rack is very disagreeable and whiny about the whole thing, all of the time.

There is very little about these teenage characters for the reader to form a connection with, but that's okay because their story really only comprises about 30% of the novel. Much more of it is taken up by the "enemy" forces and their Aurora-native opponents, none of whom intersect really in any meaningful way for the vast bulk of the narrative, so you end up with several separate groups of characters, none of which are particularly interesting, despite all of the magic and fantastical stuff going on, which are also dull in their own right. Like, Aleister Crowley, powerful magic-user, conqueror and would-be emperor of this world, is quite silly and inconsequential.

I get that it's not supposed to read like a straight fantasy novel. VanderMeer fills the pages instead with wordplay, whimsy, and oddity, not a bit of it interesting in the least. His usual hallmarks are all present; weird eco-fiction, post-modernism, modified bio-mechanical beings all abound, but I found myself detesting all of it in this setting. The attempt at Britishness, seemingly deemed a necessity for this type of portal fantasy involving unsupervised children, is pulled off reasonably well for an American raised partially in Fiji and who injected his current Florida setting into Jonathan's background. Here are some of the uncharitable thoughts that the book prompted while I read this hot mess:
-does VanderMeer even know any actual teenagers? He is childless, but he helps run a camp for teen aspiring SF/F writers, so.... probably not really.
-a few passages with awkward plot jumps made me think of nothing more than some of the worst amateur self-published fiction that I have encountered.
-you have probably seen stand-up comedy and may be familiar with the concept of callbacks. I usually find them cheap and unfunny. This book contains several callbacks, in novel form, equally unfunny.
-what is it with the preponderance of British orphans? Are all English parents required to die before their children reach the age of maturity?

Really, I'm not surpised. From the moment that I heard that Jeff VanderMeer had a YA novel coming out, this was me:
Because VanderMeer's books are not remotely anything that would ordinarily fit into a YA mold. I don't think he succeeded in this here either. In fact, I'm not really sure who this book is intended for. His usual readership would, I think, disdain the very idea of this book, and so slotting it as "YA" is merely an attempt to create or tap into a market for this work that doesn't quite exist. I will be very curious to see how the book sales do in the long run. The ratings spread for this title on Goodreads is not terribly encouraging so far.

I particularly hate the cover text marketing, and take it to be a symptom of the impossibility of marketing this thing in general. The visual book design is lovely; wonderfully imaginative illustrations grace the cover and interior. but, the exterior promo text is problematic. First, the back cover blurb is horrific. It is stupid, appears aimed at children, and is chock-full of spoilers. Not that there is much in the way of plot to spoil, but the first sentence on the back reveals something that happens after page 500. Most irritating to me, though, is the quote on the front cover from Paste Magazine, which I assume is in competition with Glue Afficionado:
"Perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and Patrick Rothfuss"
This suggests to me that the book is, A) full of inconsequential whimsy and cleverness for cleverness's sake (factcheck: true), and B) the sequel is never actually going to be written. Seriously, I have to doubt the wisdom of appealing to Rothfuss readers because of that whole situation of the past decade.

I would actually enjoy outcome B if it proves true. A part of me hopes that the promise of more of the same is just part of the in-jokes of this novel. The end-of-books "book club questions" certainly seem to poke fun at the books and their content in a way that makes it seem like the author understands the things that readers will hate about them.

Oh how I wish I was a better DNF'er, because I should have done this around page 100 (and knew it at the time, too). The main (illegitimate) reason that I did not, was that it was already overdue as a library loan, with several other patrons waiting for it, so it would have seemed a waste not to read it while causing that pain of longing. Instead I kept it for an additional two weeks to actually read the damn thing. If my library had not lifted all late fees due to pandemic, this would not have been a viable option, so really it's the library's fault. The only semi-legitimate reason not to DNF was that if I am going to pen a negative review, I feel I should read the whole book to give it a fair shake. In fairness, the final chapter (before the epilogue) was the best of the book, being the only part to treat the story with any seriousness.

-For an alternate-history adventure with authentic British cred which includes alternate versions of historical figures, try The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack.
-For a magic-infused alt-version of Earth, also with authentic British cred, try The Invisible Library.
-For a story about someone going to deal with their grandparent's hoarder house where things then get weird, try The Twisted Ones
-For a book for young readers filled with wonder and strange happenings, try The Forbidden Library
-If you're a fan of Neil Gaiman, read Neil Gaiman.
-If you're a fan of Patrick Rothfuss, read The Name of the Wind again.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,910 followers
June 27, 2021
There are, frankly, a plethora of great descriptive terms for this Vandermeer, and while it absolutely falls in the wonderful WEIRD category, I should mention that it is also charming as hell, adventuresome, original, quirky, quirky, and sometimes silly when it isn't a tentacular mess for every person in it, whether they're good, bad, or a celestial beast.

It's been a while since I was so utterly charmed by a YA adventure that was better for its clear-eyed oddities and slyly funny language bits over an otherwise smarmy family platitude or puppydog romance.

In this case, it's more like an Alice in Wonderland craziness with a heavy dose of Cthuhlu (or rather, Borne-like) Woah, that didn't just happen... did it? but firmly couched in an almost victorian adventure sensibility, complete with magic-heavy alternate time-worlds with absolutely delightful celestial beasts, Napoleon's Head, Crowley, and my favorite: Ruthless. And these are just the baddies.

Is it like normal YA adventures?

No. Or rather, it has a lot of their elements. But this one is purely VanderMeer, reveling in originality and quirky goodness and pretty much never letting up on it.

For me, I truly appreciate this. Too many YA are just regurgitations of familiar tiredness.

This is not that.

Actually, as I was reading it, I was saying to myself that this would be one of the very best YA Fantasy TV series ever. Bright and rich and quirky and endlessly diverting, never staying anywhere that long because there is always a new fire lick their heels.

I should mention that I couldn't stop laughing and grinning like a loon during some very special moments. One of them (or indeed several of them) happened to coincide with all references to a book club.

I'm right now trying to design my own. Do I hammer the books at the end of the club or not? But alas, I don't want to give away ALL the goodies. Indeed, it just keeps getting better and better and better. I would give ANYTHING to see a full production made of it. Think of a mix between Preacher and Good Omens with a much larger side of that cat from Captain Marvel and you might get an idea.


Manage your expectations. Enjoy this for what it does really well. And for all you weirdos out there, grab this and hold on tight. :)
Profile Image for Joseph Dolan.
72 reviews2 followers
April 12, 2020
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 weird in the VanderMeerian ways you would have come to expect and then IS followed by all the weirdness you've come to expect from his writing.

Continuing VanderMeer's grand tradition of portal fantasies (The Southern Reach & Borne triologies are all portal fantasies - fight me), A Peculiar Peril starts out as what feels like a British comedy and just as you're settling in to what will most certainly be a dryly funny cozy mystery about rediscovering our protagonists family history, a bear gets shot out of a gun and all hell breaks loose. For the roughly 700 pages of the book you're treated to intertwining stories of protagonist Jonathan Lambshead, Aleister Crowley, Napoleon's head (just the head), various spies, a series of cosmic horror styled monsters, and various other strange perspectives as they all make their way around a war-torn alt-earth. Mysteries unfold, lessons are learned, family bonds are tested, and general strangeness is abound.

At times A Peculiar Peril feels like a love letter to the author's backyard. It treats animals and plant life with the delicate touch the author clearly presents in real life. Nature is ancient and wild magic and the consequences of taming it are put on display throughout this book.

Put aside all that you expect from Jeff VanderMeer when entering this book. This book is not the dark weirdness of a lighthouse tunnel, but it's also not not that. Take thirty minutes before reading this book and scroll through Jeff's Twitter. Find the video of him in a caterpillar costume holding jackfruit towards the camera. Find the series of tweets in which his cat is served the last plate of scrambled eggs. Find the times when he is contemplating the thoughts of the squirrel staring at him through his office window. THAT is this book and it was wonderful.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,876 reviews3,382 followers
July 2, 2021
How to sum up such an impossibly great book?

16-year-old Jonathan is brought to England to his late grandfather's estate. He is told he can keep everything if he just catalogues his gradfather's possessions. Naturally, that is just a ruse. Because within the estate lies one of the secret entrances to Aurora, a parallel Earth.
Aurora has talking animals and vegetables, undead heads of famous rulers, a power-mad Alastair Crowley, lots of magic and The Institute (a secret society).
Knowing nothing of the war being waged to keep Crowley from getting to other Earths and, indeed, to limit his power in Aurora, Jonathan ventures into the other world with his friends, R(ack)&D(anny), thus becoming part of an amazing adventure.

Fairies, old magic, sentient plants, celestial beasts, psychopathic spheres, and even tools with a life of their own (like the cheery knife) populate this rich landscape that has swiftly become one of my new favourite books and THE best one by this author I've read so far. There are also cities at stake and mysteries abound (about old "architects" that have gone missing for example).

VanderMeer impressed me with his complex worldbuilding taking us to utterly weird places full of awesome (and usually volatile) nature in past books. Here, he had a totally different voice, created a fantasy more than a scifi story. Nevertheless, the worldbuilding was once again impressive, the writing style unique and rich, the characters quirky.
I frequently laughed out loud or chuckled sardonically at dialogues and events. It was a mild satire but the humorous element was definitely there. I mean, just the names (Charlie Mange for Charlemagne for example), but also the simple fact that Charlemagne is a giant moth, William the Conquerer an eel and Napoléon just a talking head.

There were nods to other greats like Doctor Who (Ruth Less being bigger on the inside), too. Speaking of Ruth Less, that book club was darkly funny and in more than one way. Yes, she was my favourite. Though Squishy and others are also noteworthy.

But there is also lots of intrigue and politics here. It's not a straightforward good-vs-evil tale. Instead, it is a complex and layered story. I liked that a lot. Just like I appreciated that we are introduced to it in a similar way than Jonathan is - we're naive and without any knowledge and learn as we go. And there have been a number of twists (some less obvious than others). It's a steep learning curve for sure though.

I feel like this review doesn't manage to adequately convey just how marvellous this creation of VanderMeer's is. So let me simply say: it's marvellous!

Can't wait for the second one (according to this interview it will be a 4-book/2-volume duology) to find out about . By the way, was I the only one feeling as if was weird?! As in, something's wrong about that?!

A lot to muse about long after closing the book - and not just thanks to the book club questions at the end. *snickers*
Profile Image for Miranda.
165 reviews49 followers
January 3, 2021
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 version of Earth called Aurora, which is filled with magic, talking animals, and a dictator named Aleister Crowley who is on a rampage. Soon Jonathan learns that he has a role to play in The Order, a secretive group that seeks to monitor and control doors and portals, to help save Aurora and protect Earth.

If you have read a book by Jeff VanderMeer then you must understand how it can be difficult to make sense of them or find the words to describe what is going on. The ones I have read so far are definitely a mix of weird and nonsense, including A Peculiar Peril.

I really enjoyed most of the characters in this book. The story jumps around between location and perspective, but I loved the main cast of characters - Jonathan, Rack, and Danny. At first, I really struggled with getting into this because of the chapters that followed Crowley. They were just so boring for me because I could not connect to them. As the story developed, I appreciated these perspectives more.

Aurora seems mind boggling but very cool at the same time. I loved the whole alternate world aspect as this is something I enjoy in a lot other books too. Aurora is even more unique because I never knew what to expect. I really liked the talking animals though.

The plot of this book was really mixed for me. Sometimes it was very eventful and engaging, but I lost interest in certain parts. When it picked up, it was really enjoyable though. My advice would be to not take it too seriously and just go with the flow.

A Peculiar Peril is a wild ride. I appreciate VanderMeer’s voice and creativity, but I expected a little more in terms of plot and character development. Certain things felt slow or unnecessary, so I wish the story really stuck with the great parts more. While this was not a perfect read for me, I am still very interested in checking out the second book.
Profile Image for Sasha.
864 reviews32 followers
July 24, 2020
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:

Also, it's really strange to finish reading this and then to start playing Link's Awakening on the Switch. I just kept calling Boarblins"death piggies" to myself and giggling every time.

Please see below for advice on how to read this very frustrating and wonderful book.


I'm still reading but I think I unlocked the secret to this book! I was trying to understand every nuance and remember each character and their motivation and attempting to figure out the rules... But that's not how you should read the book. It will drive you mad. Kirkus review pushed me to just open my mind and take it in. And once I did that (at first slowly, then all at once, heh) I started having fun!

Best way to open your mind? Make like Dee in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:

Trey : [Dee is chugging beers] Wow, you can really put 'em back, can't you?
Dee Reynolds : The trick is to just kind of open your throat.

So just kind of open your throat, everyone, to the words of Jeff Vandermeer. twss?
Profile Image for William.
675 reviews316 followers
May 11, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Yub Yub Commander.
369 reviews28 followers
March 10, 2020
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" something wasn't right and how it wasn't right, but the reader was never told what that was, which meant you had no clue what was going on. Is this thing the character "knows" a good thing or a bad thing?

Also, this is labeled as YA. I honestly cannot picture any average 12-18 year old picking this book up. It's portal fantasy on meth. It's the weirdest thing most people would ever read, and in an attempt to be quirky and weird, it comes off as borderline pretentious. All of the characters are unhinged and odd in some way, even more than a normal person would be. There are interesting elements to be uncovered and explored, such as Jonathon struggling being alone now (no family) or his friends dealing with all the oddities of the story, but it's so quickly glossed over or easily written out of the story, that the characters have no way to grow and evolve. The only character who is given any chance of an arc is Rack, and he so quickly accepts everything despite us being told that he hasn't, that it's hard to believe he didn't somehow know everything to begin with.

Also, is no one going to say anything about the rat? It's just there and no one has questions about why this rat seems smart or can, according to Danny, talk? Again, this is why I say the characters feel unhinged. None of them take any situation logically. They all just accept it as it is, quirkiness, insanity, and all.

Maybe I'm simply not the target audience for this book, but I find that hard to believe as I was so obsessed in the first 20%, but after the continued ridiculous gore that feels more like a cheesy slasher film, and the continued insanity with no sense of direction in plot or world and character development, I find myself with no drive to pick this book up and continue it any more at all.
Profile Image for Jackie.
616 reviews40 followers
December 20, 2019
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 make sense of what it was hoping to achieve.

I managed to make it 36% of the way through and I have no idea what was going on other than the main character became the executive of his late grandfathers estate and found that it contained doors to alternate universes and there was a villain looking to rule all of them. The choice to have some chapters told from the POV of said villains was interesting and I was eager to see how it would unfold but it never managed to actually be interesting or give me insight into why any of this was happening and I’ll grant it some leeway as I couldn’t finish it and there might be better explanations later on in the text but after making it 1/3 of the way through there should have been something there to hold on to my attention.

It was hard to connect to any of the characters let alone Jonathan who is going through a lot but never manages to make you feel for him. The only character I was able to tolerate was Rack but even then his larger personality seemed wasted on the group he was paired with and the plot that moved at a snails pace.

I’m disappointed I had to break my code as a reviewer but I could not pretend to read this book any longer than I already have.

**special thanks to the publishers and edelweiss for providing an arc in exchange for a fair and honest review**
Profile Image for Ashley Daviau.
1,740 reviews750 followers
September 16, 2022
On paper this one had so much potential and I was incredibly excited for it. Sadly it did not live up to the very high hopes I had for it. I’m a huge fan of Jeff Vandermeer and this one just sounded so good. The idea practically had me salivating and when it first started to unroll I was pretty damn into it and sitting back to enjoy the ride. And then that’s where it started to get messy and a bunch of little things started to really bother me. I won’t nitpick and go into all of them but there’s 2 main things that really brought this from a yay to nay. First, at one point I got pretty tired of the weirdness. Yes I LOVE and live for weird but this was weird in a way that just made no sense AT ALL. Second, I didn’t connect with any of the characters which made it hard for me to enjoy as I’m a very character driven reader. The story had so much potential and I really wanted to love it but the execution just lacked for me. All that being said I do still adore Vandermeer, this just isn’t his best work.
Profile Image for Stacie.
805 reviews33 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
September 24, 2020
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 almost desperate to draw out the weirdness for weirdness' sake, and not in a way that really did much for character building or plot progression.

Part way through reading, a realization struck. I was reading this simply to make progress on it and not reading it because I cared about anything that was happening. That's usually a sign that it's time for me to tap out.

This one just wasn't hitting right for me. Maybe I would've enjoyed the story if it was more concisely told, I'm not sure. I do like some of VanderMeer's other books though, so I'll keep an eye out for future series by him.
Profile Image for Viktoria.
Author 2 books72 followers
September 9, 2020
Definitely a highlight of this year.
Profile Image for Lata.
3,509 reviews187 followers
October 17, 2021
This book is bonkers. Or, perhaps I should say, "blonkers". It's like an Arthur Rackham picture forcibly pushed through a series of meshes ringed with sharpened teeth, then shoved into an exploding Wonderland, ripped into bleeding chunks, and finally gorged on with a wee bit left over saved in a pouch.
If any of that made sense, then you've got a bit of what I felt for this fantastical, violent, hilarious, scary, huge and really weird story. With marmots. And crows and bats and demon-like things. And magicians and Generals and heads on sticks.

I'm having trouble describing this complex and complicated novel: a story of adolescent and grieving Jonathan Lambshead, who is is tasked with cataloguing the contents of his dead grandfather's house for auction. Two of his friends from boarding school join him for what they all think will be a fun and interesting way to spend the summer vacation.
Very soon, Jonathan discovers things are weird chez elder Lambshead, and there portals from the house to his former home in Florida, and to the world of Aurora.
Aurora: There are talking animals and vegetables, there are evil beings and misguided/evil magicians, engineers, spies and an Order devoted to keeping an eye on Aurora. There are indescribably frightening beings, magically, and grossly, animated technology, hilariously bloviating side characters, braided massive beards, tunnels, towers and everyone heading to Prague for war. Family secrets are revealed along the way, people fight and make up, and so much more. It's a book stuffed with the fantabulous and the amazing, and I think if I ever get my head around this bizarre and wonderful book, maybe I'll be able to write a coherent summary of it one day.
108 reviews
May 22, 2020
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 itself a bad thing; plenty of authors can take and idea that's well-trodden and develop it into something fresh and new. The problem is that this book doesn't really do it. Instead, it distinguishes itself by flourishes of quirkiness and weirdness -- the creatures are creative and unsettling, the language is flowery and quirky, and so on -- and this weirdness is never really explained; we're just supposed to accept it, as if this were Wonderland or Night Vale. This, by itself, is also fine. However, what this book severely lacks is a point. It could be that the point is simply to revel in the weirdness -- as Alice in Wonderland and Welcome to Night Vale do -- but the world of A Peculiar Peril is far too glum, grimdark and gratuitously gory to be weird in the fun way. It could be that some sort of social commentary is intended, but even if it were clearer exactly what that commentary is, messages alone cannot carry a book. It could be an escapist journey with relatable characters, but these characters all have the depth and dimension of tissue paper, and, like I said before, it's just so damn dark for seemingly no reason, so escapism isn't really possible.
I get the sense that VanderMeer intended for this book to read like stepping into a fever dream -- wild, chaotic, and strange, but also seductive and fascinating in its own way. But unfortunately, it reads more like someone is just *telling* you about their dream over breakfast for six hundred pages -- it was interesting to them, but for you, it's a total slog.
Profile Image for Jonathan Hawpe.
202 reviews14 followers
April 13, 2020
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 succinct and fast paced. I can dig a big book, but this was feeling pretty bloated and messy to me. And it's only part one of a series! I think maybe YA's PG-13 rating didn't really jive with Vandermeer's twisted imagination, or maybe the humor didn't? I felt adrift on a sea of weird but not in the good way. I sincerely hope that this finds an audience, but it wasn't for me.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
416 reviews170 followers
May 8, 2021
DNF - the first 100 pages weren't terrible, but the thought of 550 more made me tired.
Profile Image for Jamie.
45 reviews5 followers
November 29, 2020
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 Europe and find the elusive golden sphere, with a little help from the disembodied head of Napoleon!.....

Jeff Vandermeer's first YA novel in a series is a blast. Certainly his most playful and humorous. There are some laugh out loud moments in this one. And its wildly inventive.

There have been some very mixed reviews of this. Its a big book and I found it does drag a bit midway, but it is rewarding. The mix of magic and strange animals are again present as with most of his work, and there are some great cameos from familiar literary characters. Jonathan Lambshead is a fantastic central protagonist and using Crowley as a character here is inspired.

A great adventure story
21 reviews
June 13, 2020
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 giveaway due to the author name alone. I had never read anything by Jeff VanderMeer before, but I had heard a lot of good things and I enjoy science fiction. So, imagine my surprise when instead of an adult science fiction novel, a young adult book arrived at my door. (I like young adult, so it wasn’t a problem just a surprise.)
This book is quite absurd. In fact, it relishes in being absurd. It takes whimsy and silly to whole new levels, some disgustingly cute and others cutely disgusting. My enjoyment grew at about 150 pages when I just stopped trying to figure it out and go along for the ride. It has a huge cast of characters and plotlines and points of view and trying in your head to make sense of it all will doom you from the start.
I can’t give you a plot description since it is too complicated and confusing without actually reading the damn thing. The synopsis with the book is probably the best way to go even if it barely tells you anything.
When I read something like this all I can really do is laugh…a lot. I don’t think the author would be too upset by this. Absurd as it is I was interested. I did care about a few characters and some I didn’t expect too. The book was unpredictable in its direction. Just when I thought I knew how far the author would go he would throw a curve ball out of nowhere.
There were a couple of negatives. This is the first part of a duology and the ending is merely a pause rather than a full ending. Which means that by the time the second book comes out I will probably have to reread this one again.
I also thought that the changing of viewpoints every chapter made it difficult especially in the beginning of the novel to keep track of anything which I think will hurt some readers going into it.
The Last would be that this is young adult but I felt it was hard to really understand the age of the main character of Jonathan. He seemed a little younger than I think he was supposed to be. This wouldn’t matter except that this is not a simple good versus bad story and more adult themes are provided that seem to go over his head in some aspects. I don’t think it should be dumbed down, just more clarity on who his character is. This could be corrected in the second book.
Overall, I really enjoyed it. The prose is easy to follow and I had to think a lot. Which is always a good thing.
Now I will have to find one of his science fiction books to try.
Profile Image for cardulelia carduelis.
493 reviews25 followers
September 18, 2020
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 full of bits'n'bobs and an alternate hellscape run by Crowley of all people. And whilst that sounds like it might have some potential, it is mired in pretentious close-to-unreadable prose.

I think Vandermeer was going for humour here, but it's the sort of humor favoured by Jasper Fforde and Terry Pratchett, that often uses language and setup to generate it rather than it occurring naturally from its surroundings. The humor detracts so much from the main text that even early revelations like translucent marmots appearing in your dead grandfather's garden spark nothing but some banter. Where are the questions, the intrigue? Where are the pauses to let these moments sink in before moving on to the next tired joke?
Another gripe: the YA in this book do not behave like young adults, they have no curiosity, no emotion, their actions just pander to the plot. Early on in the book, for example, Johnny boy and R&D find a letter from his grandfather with a key and some mysterious instructions - this is on top of the mysterious instructions he's already received - and neither of his friends really react to this. A huge house of crap, valuable or not, is surely a talking point and if you get the sense that the only adult in your friend's life is still messing with him from beyond the grave you'd surely be a little perplexed by this and want to discuss it, right? Nope, they just go back to tidying and banter.

Also, can we talk about how none of these youths are English? I am from the bloody North East and I've never met someone that talked like these twats, posh grammar school or not. What English kid calls their teachers in secondary school 'professor'??? The dialogue on these teens stank of Floridian trying to be European and it didn't work.

I'll stop ranting now, I'm sure there's plenty of more diligent reviewers that have broken down the finer talking points of the book here but in short: it's overly verbose, stupider than it thinks it is, and is made of stodgy characters. Save your money.

DNF'd at 100 pages.

Profile Image for Kiara.
157 reviews61 followers
September 10, 2020
“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 REASON. Even though I knew I hadn’t got on with VanderMeer in the past (the Southern Reach trilogy actually made me contemplate burning books. AHT AHT, let me stop, this is getting blasphemous). I’d say that I only have myself to blame, but I don’t. I blame VanderMeer! The cover is gorgeous, the synopsis promises mystery and magic and a portal fantasy and yes it delivers that but it’s wrapped up in SO. MUCH. WHIMSY. It’s like Alice In Wonderland on steroids, and at first it was fun and endearing but after 600+ pages of pure ridiculousness I just got weary.

Jonathan Lambshead (the MC) and his friends Rack and Danny get catapulted into a world called Aurora, where the occultist Aleister Crowley has made himself emperor and is wreaking havoc that threatens to spread throughout the alternate worlds. Crowley and his familiar Wretch were the best parts of this book. I love a good unhinged villain and these two provided that. I absolutely loved their POV chapters. Now here’s one of my problems with this book: I cared more about the villains than I did the main character. Jonathan and his friends started out funny and quirky, and they had a lovely found family aspect to them, and that endeared them to me. But over the course of the book these 3 became some of the most insufferable people! The quote that I started this review with is said to them by a character in this book! Yeah I felt like I was getting trolled by VanderMeer when I read that part, but man I felt validated in my dislike towards them. They had no development besides getting more whiny.

My view is this: if you’re gonna make your book so goddamn whimsical and unhinged, your plot and character work should be TOP NOTCH. Those 2 elements should be able to carry the book and keep me invested, but VanderMeer didn’t accomplish that. The plot was meandering, and I left this book with too many questions, and considering this book is only a part of a duology and had almost 700 pages: that’s a problem. BUT! Chapter 65, when they went into the forest in Prague and encountered that magical mist, was absolutely hilarious! If you’ve read the book, you know!
Profile Image for Drew.
1,569 reviews502 followers
August 26, 2020
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 inside this book making it the first two parts of... a quartet? We'll see, I suppose) but as he has taken great pains to point out: it's meant for "young adults from eight to eighty" -- and so those who love Jeff's weirder work 'for grownups' should rest assured: all of that same madcap bravura energy and weirdness is still present. If anything, it is in fact even further unleashed; this book has so much invention and it SUSTAINS that inventiveness basically up to the last page. I could list a dozen wild things about the book and there'd still be a thousand more to discover. You've probably heard about Aleister Crowley and Napoleon's talking head and the potato creature and the alternate Earth called Aurora... but what about the puffins? The Wobble? The Chateau Peppermint Blonkers? Jules Verne and Franz Kafka? the book club? Other historical figures of questionable decency? The beer mist?

So, yeah. This book never lets up and if it feels like it's all rising action, well, it kind of is. Jeff throws everything he's got into this and his unbridled glee is a sight to behold. This book is so much FUN, my friends -- particularly if you let it take you back to being a kid who read the wildest things you could find because, well, nobody'd yet told you that you were Supposed to Read More Serious Things.
Profile Image for Babinka.
174 reviews1 follower
September 6, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Philip.
497 reviews667 followers
January 17, 2021

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.
Profile Image for Soo.
2,598 reviews255 followers
September 14, 2021

4.5 Stars for Narration by Raphael Corkhill
3.5 Stars for Concepts
3.5 Stars for Mundane to Wonky Characters
4 Stars for Vivid Writing

- The audiobook was great! Raphael Corkhill made the story come alive in audio. Aspects that may make the story too absurd, ridiculous or over the top were balanced out by the narration. Corkhill did a great job! I hope he will narrate more books that I want to read.

- A Peculiar Peril is a YA novel from start to finish. I think kids would love it. It's along the lines of Alice in Wonderland or Labyrinth weird, but the humor can be appreciated by kids + adults like Shrek. An oddball, adventure story that features a 'normal teen' with extraordinary connections.

- This book is actually a book of two.

- I'm not always in the mood to read a story that features well known figures of history/fiction. I didn't mind the ones that popped up in the story, because they were a wacky twist of what most would know.

- The setting is made up of the variety of characters within the series more than physical places. In some ways, Jonathan Lambshead was a minor player within a larger web.

- I was surprised by the light & off the cuff humor of the story. It was a nice surprise! The story is a bit deceptive because it seems like the information is put right in front of your face. Then inner monologues, fanciful creatures, blunt action sequences and mild turns end up in a labyrinthine adventure.

- Cover: All of the stuff on the cover has something to do with the story. Isn't that cool? =)
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