cover image LEVIATHAN 4: Cities


Michael Cisco, Ben Peek, Jay Tobias Lake, . . Night Shade/Ministry of Whimsy, $27 (235pp) ISBN 978-1-892389-82-4

Aguirre's relatively restrained fourth volume in his World Fantasy Award–winning series showcases 10 literate dark fantasy stories, which may be variously described as surreal, decadent, absurd or horrific. In perhaps the finest tale, Jay Lake's "The Soul Bottles," a wealthy man is ruined after his trade in soul bottles, which literally hold the souls of the dead, is proclaimed heretical. His son then goes through a Dickens-like fall into working-class obscurity before achieving financial success, albeit sacrificing much of his humanity along the way. Also memorable are Stepan Chapman's surreal "The Revenge of the Calico Cat," a wonderfully detailed piece set in the city where toys go after they die, and Ben Peek's "The Dreaming City," in which Mark Twain dreams of an encounter with Cadi, the aboriginal spirit of Australia's Sydney Harbour, and is moved to write a book in defense of that continent's native population. Other notable contributors include Michael Cisco, K.J. Bishop and Ursula Pflug. Although not up to the level of Leviathan 3 (2002), this solid anthology should appeal to readers of Jeff VanderMeer, China Miéville and other modern masters of the fantastic. (Nov. 30)