A Very Brief Review of Mieville’s Kraken
In my humble opinion, China Mieville is one of my top five writers writing now. His Bas-Lag novels are amazing and revolutionary and his imagination is always intriguing and wonderfully realized. Despite what I think is a misstep with his critically acclaimed The City and the City, he returns to form with his latest novel Kraken.
Kraken is, at root, about two things, one obvious and one obscure. The obvious subject of the novel is the preserved corpse of an Archituthis dux on display at the Darwin Centre (a part of the National History Museum) in London. The preserved A. dux is somehow stolen from the museum just as a tour group led by the main protagonist, Billy Harrow, arrives to view the squid. From there begins a mad journey across a hidden, magical, and heretical London to find the squid and prevent an apocalypse.
The second subject of the novel is obscured by the presence of the Kraken baby A. dux. Given the spoilerific nature of this obscured subject, I will not say what it is. This double and real focus is perhaps the biggest flaw of the novel.
The novel is great, funny, thrilling, etc. up until the very last twenty pages. Like in The Scar or Iron Council, Mieville has a trap planned for his readers. A red herring main antagonist that obscures the real object of apocalyptic doom. And I find this revelation to be completely useless within the context of the novel.
The novel has a nice conclusion with the final confrontation with the red herring antagonist, and I think the novel has a nice ending there without having to destroy the already existing narrative.
Despite this quibble, the book is extremely good and highly recommended. Within, you will meet cults of religions that you may expect and those you may not expect
I recognize that this review is ridiculously short, but I’m planning on doing a series on Mieville in the future where I discuss all of his works (or just Bas-Lag).