cover image A Peculiar Peril (The Misadventures of Jonathan Lambshead #1)

A Peculiar Peril (The Misadventures of Jonathan Lambshead #1)

Jeff VanderMeer. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $19.99 (656p) ISBN 978-0-374-30886-5

Jonathan Lambshead plans to spend his summer inventorying the English countryside manor of his dead grandfather, Dr. Thackery “Thwack” Lambshead—a task the 16-year-old orphan must complete before inheriting Thwack’s estate. Assisting are classmate Danielle Rackham, 17, and her adopted brother, Dirk Wulf Rackham—a grad student with a prosthetic left leg and a damaged right foot. Thwack left Jonathan cryptic instructions regarding bird-children, a quest, and the Order of the Third Door, which Jonathan suspects are dementia-inspired nonsense. Then he finds a portal to Aurora, an alternate Earth full of talking animals and vegetables where warlock Aleister Crowley (aided by his bat-monster familiar and Napoleon’s disembodied head) intends to capture an alchemical energy source and use its power to become Lord of Everything—actual Earth included—unless Jonathan and company can stop him. First in a duology, adult author VanderMeer’s sprawling YA debut offers a riotous, slyly sophisticated take on the hero’s journey. Boldly drawn characters, sublimely ridiculous worldbuilding, and a witty, prismatic narrative further distinguish the unique tale. Ages 12–up. [em]Agent: Sally Harding, CookeMcDermid. (July) [/em]