In Nebula-winner Johnson’s (At the Mouth of the River of Bees) absorbing novella, Ulthar Women’s College mathematics professor Vellitt Boe, who lives in the land of dreams, must track down Clarie Jurat, a student who seems to have run away with a man who inhabits the waking world. It’s important she’s found, since her father is a trustee of the college, and this is a scandal that might get women banned from the school. Vellitt sets off across an ever-shifting dreamworld of whimsical, scheming elder gods, treacherous yet wildly beautiful landscapes, and fantastical creatures. As one might guess from the title, Lovecraftian elements abound, such as the black cat that follows Vellitt from Ulthar and rides atop her backpack, as well as bodies of water and cities straight out of the mythos. Vellitt’s journey is one of self-realization, courage, and discovery, and she must reconcile the adventurous person she once was with the ordered, unadorned life she now inhabits. Superb worldbuilding and gorgeous prose will hold readers rapt: “In an earlier decade, she would have taken passage on so graceful a ship without regard to destination; she would willingly have sailed off the world’s edge in to the abyssal chaos if she could do so cradled among these flowing curves. Beauty, true beauty, had that power.” Utterly irresistible. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/18/2016 Release date: 08/16/2016 Genre: Fiction
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