cover image The Unfamiliar Garden

The Unfamiliar Garden

Benjamin Percy. Mariner, $15.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-328-54488-9

Percy’s masterful second Comet Cycle genre-bender (after The Ninth Metal) combines a missing-person case, romantic reconciliation, and a riveting sci-fi what-if imagining of a sentient fungi, spawned by debris from a passing comet, that symbiotically absorbs flora and fauna—including human beings. On the day the comet swept Earth with a dramatic meteor shower, “fun dad” Jack, a mycologist, took his eight-year-old daughter, Mia, on a mushroom study trip through a dank forest outside Seattle—where she vanished. This devastating loss breaks up Jack’s marriage to Nora, a type A police detective. Now, five years later, Nora investigates a series of eerie, ritualistic Seattle homicides, while Jack boozily self-destructs his academic career. The pair gradually reconnect by probing into the ominous fungal invasion—a line of inquiry that may lead them to Mia. Meanwhile, a sinister governmental operation attempts to militarize the fungus, developing it into a mind control serum. The juxtaposition of malignant military-industrial machinations and well-delineated human tension works wonderfully, and sci-fi fans will appreciate Percy’s extraterrestrial biological lore. It’s a thoroughly satisfying near-future glimpse of both disaster and salvation. Agent: Katherine Fausset, Curtis Brown. (Jan.)