Finch - Jeff VanderMeer “Fungal noir. Steampunk delirium”

The description on the front cover made me curious. And Vandermeer delivers. At least the fungal noir part. Though the novel could very well be suited for it, I didn’t see any elements that struck me as particularly steampunk.

Finch follows a detective that “is not a detective” throughout the city of Ambergris after its occupation by a fungal species colloquially known as greycaps. I have not read Vandermeer’s prior two non-serial novels involving Ambergris, so I’m not sure how much had been explained previously. But Finch easily stands alone as an independent work. Vandermeer doles out his story in digestible morsels that gives you the taste of the vast history and events surrounding the city. And also leaves you wanting more. Though I’m sure the name of the city is a coincidence, Vandermeer’s slow unfolding of his city reminds me of Roger Zelazny’s deliberate revelations in the Amber series, which I consider to be one of the benchmarks of fantasy fiction.

What stands out most about the book is the writing the style. Short, strafing sentences that leaves the readers disoriented at times. However, the overall effect adds to the noir element. The clipped speech reminds me of the stereotypical detective in a 1950’s film. Facts are facts. There is no need for endless editorializing.

It’s rare to find a book so saturated with creativity. Though I could harp on minor issues I had with the plot (including the ending), Vandermeer’s stylistic and imaginative mastery far outweigh such trivial complaints.