Kadrey’s follow-up to 2016’s fantasy-caper romp The Everything Box strives for the same charm as its predecessor but ends up feeling flat. Mystical burglar Coop is on the receiving end of a mummy’s curse after a job for the Department of Peculiar Science (DOPS) goes awry. While the mummy, Harkhuf, attempts to resurrect his lover and an army, Coop and his friends race against the clock to save humankind. Meanwhile, various colorful characters in and out of the DOPS continue assorted illegal shenanigans, and it’s in those scenes where Kadrey’s dialogue uncharacteristically falters: in his attempt to imbue every exchange with wry, cynical sarcasm, Kadrey ends up making his entire cast speak in the same voice. To his credit, his plotting is as deft as ever, weaving eight broad story arcs into one overarching narrative that’s entertainingly unpredictable (and somewhat impenetrable for new readers, as previous plot points, such as Coop’s immunity to magic, are glossed over). Especially entertaining are two forgotten DOPS employees whose steady descent into delusional paranoia is only marginally less amusing than the vaguely-defined horrors lurking in their office, but sheer quirkiness isn’t enough to save this sequel from sophomore slump. Agent: Ginger Clark, Curtis Brown. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/02/2017 Release date: 02/01/2017 Genre: Fiction
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