My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This steampunk novel is a must-read for fans of the mashup subgenre. I’ve enjoyed Mieville’s later The City and the City, and while his writing and ontological approach have matured, Perdido Street Station has his social consciousness, interesting characters, and mythical realism.
Mieville helps attune our senses to a city reminiscent of Dickensian London, with fantastic, horror, and steampunk elements. New Crobuzon is squalid and crowded, with bits of glitter and glory surrounded by strange ruins, nonhuman ghettos, ornate industry, and quasi-organic growths. It is dangerous, maddening, and impressive in scope and scale.
If you don’t mind gothic prose, occasional sex and gore, and truly horrific monsters, you’ll enjoy Mieville’s descriptions of peoples suffering from crime and oppression and a scientist whose discoveries threaten to unhinge reality. Mieville takes fantasy tropes — the band of adventurers, the magical aid, the obstacles to enlightenment — and he adds enough suspense and sacrifice for a rewarding page-turner.