[Book Review] Escape from Puroland

Escape from Puroland (The Laundry Files 7.5) / Charles Stross

Previously Reviewed:

This novella is fantastic.  Coming it at under 150 pages it's a fast read, with just enough filling in of background & setting that an unsuspecting reader can dive in and follow without getting bogged down.  Bob is, after all, generally conscientious in journaling his missions.  Also, like a new reader, he is always being thrown into situations without a thorough briefing, so beyond establishing details such as his marriage, the organization he works for, and his role as the Eater of Souls, Jr, and the concept of Computational Demonology (all of which are integrated seamlessly), we are all discovering things together.

Most of the series takes place in England, with a few visits to the US and International Waters.  Escape from Puroland brings us somewhere new both in location for the series and the mythology it has delved into.  For this little jaunt takes us to Japan and into the realm of yokai, kaiju, and Hello Kitty.

If you're familiar with The Laundry Files, especially Stross' take on such fantastical creatures as elves and unicorns, you can probably guess the general direction this is going.  It does so with unabandoned glee.

But more than that, Escape from Puroland, manages to be a wonderful escapist breath of fresh air.  The novels as of late have been a bit too prescient, entire plotlines scrapped because real life events pre-empted them forcing the author to rewrite, or published only for the readers to uncomfortably shiver at how close to home it hits (The Labyrinth Index and the internal government coup starting with the attempts to privatize the Post Office stand out in particularly stark light).  Yes, the series has always been a mix of satire, horror, and dark SFF, but part of enjoying horror is knowing what we're reading is not real and the ability to enjoy the terror in the safety and comfort of our own homes.

The horror here is more constrained, it fills the atmosphere intertwined with Stross' characteristic dark humor.  The narrative sharp and to the point, and an excellent addition to the series, especially for those of us who have been missing Bob Howard.

Advance Reader Copy courtesy of  Macmillan-Tor/Forge in exchange for an honest review; changes may exist between galley and the final edition.

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