[Book Review] Dead Lies Dreaming
I've been an avid reader of Charles Stross and The Laundry Files in particular. A series that started as parodies of well-known British Spy novels with snappy humor and a delightful taste of Lovecraftian horror... as well as Information Technology horror. If you've worked IT, you know there's plenty of material there. The series now stands on its own as a dark fantasy, comedy lightly coating the deep horror of what you're reading.
Dead Lies Dreaming is a departure from the familiar story line, set instead in the greater setting that Laundry Files falls within. There's no Bob, or Mhari, or any of the familiar faces... except one. The New Management, the being formerly known as The Mandate. This is his England, a country drastically shaped by the damage the Laundry could not mitigate, and this is a story about the people who live in that country.
When magic and superpowers emerge in the masses, Wendy Deere is contracted by the government to bag and snag supervillains in Hugo Award-winning author Charles Stross' Dead Lies Dreaming: A Laundry Files Novel.
As Wendy hunts down Imp—the cyberpunk head of a band calling themselves “The Lost Boys”— she is dragged into the schemes of louche billionaire Rupert de Montfort Bigge. Rupert has discovered that the sole surviving copy of the long-lost concordance to the one true Necronomicon is up for underground auction in London. He hires Imp’s sister, Eve, to procure it by any means necessary, and in the process, he encounters Wendy Deere.
In a tale of corruption, assassination, thievery, and magic, Wendy Deere must navigate rotting mansions that lead to distant pasts, evil tycoons, corrupt government officials, lethal curses, and her own moral qualms in order to make it out of this chase alive.
The result is supernatural horror by way of a Guy Ritchie with a Peter Pan fetish. There's disorientation at the completely different set of characters, but it's made up for in the schemes, wit, and moving pieces on this multi-dimensional and reality bending game of chess.
Familiarity with The Laundry Files is unnecessary to enjoy this book, instead all one needs is awareness of wider troupe standards such as the Necronomicon. If readers start here there's nothing to stop their enjoyment, and from there they always have the option of starting at the beginning to learn how we got where we are.
Advance Reader Copy courtesy of Macmillan-Tor/Forge in exchange for an honest review; changes may exist between galley and the final edition.