Published by Farrar on July 7, 2020
Series: Misadventures of Jonathan Lambshead #1
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic
Source: Paperback ARC from Publisher
A Peculiar Peril is a head-spinning epic about three friends on a quest to protect the world from a threat as unknowable as it is terrifying, from the Nebula Award–winning and New York Times bestselling author of Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer.
Jonathan Lambshead stands to inherit his deceased grandfather’s overstuffed mansion—a veritable cabinet of curiosities—once he and two schoolmates catalog its contents. But the three soon discover that the house is filled with far more than just oddities: It holds clues linking to an alt-Earth called Aurora, where the notorious English occultist Aleister Crowley has stormed back to life on a magic-fueled rampage across a surreal, through-the-looking-glass version of Europe replete with talking animals (and vegetables).
Swept into encounters with allies more unpredictable than enemies, Jonathan pieces together his destiny as a member of a secret society devoted to keeping our world separate from Aurora. But as the ground shifts and allegiances change with every step, he and his friends sink ever deeper into a deadly pursuit of the profound evil that is also chasing after them.
A Peculiar Peril is the first book in the young adult fantasy series, titled Misadventures of Jonathan Lambshead by Jeff VanderMeer. A peculiar Peril, lived up to its’ name. It was…peculiar. In a good way. It felt like a mashup of a nature focused Alice in Wonderland, mixed with a dash of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the galaxy humor. This was a long book clocking in at over 650 pages, but it was zany, and weird and completely interesting.
In A Peculiar Peril, we meet our hero- Jonathan Lambshead who along with his two friends as he is cleaning out his deceased grandfather’s house. In the house they discover all kinds of things, including a portal to another world. This world is a wonderlandian place where animals can talk and plants come to life. There Jonathan and his friends go on a quest full of evil and secret societies that manage the portals between worlds and of course monsters and big bad’s that want to wreak havoc. Not to mention a crazy new world. There is a lot going on in this journey, and I will admit that at times, the world was over my head. There was so much to keep track of that I did find myself getting lost a few times, but overall the story was interesting enough that I just kept going. And things got easier to track and follow as the story went on.
There are tons of characters that we meet along the way, and each of them have their own signature brand of weirdness. Not to mention secrets! For example, we get to meet a version of Napoleon in this story. But not all of Napoleon- no, we only get to meet Napoleon’s head. This is a story that unfolds little bit by little bit in terms of information. This is very much a portal fantasy where the main characters are dumped into a new world and have to figure things out for themselves, and the readers do to. But Jeff VanderMeer made it work.
If you are a fan of the weirdness of Through the Looking Glass, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, then I think you will really enjoy A Peculiar Peril. I am not sure if this is going to be a duology or part of a longer series, but I am here for the rest of the ride. I am so glad that I read this book, and that I stuck with it through my early confusion. Stick with it, and get ready for a zany ride!
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2020 New Release Challenge
- Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge 2020