The eighteenth book I’ll review here is Cloud Country, the second part of the Special Sin series by Andy Futuro. I reviewed the first book, No Dogs in Philly, in a previous blog post that you can read here. The series is a mix of cyberpunk, noir, dark fantasy, and Lovecraftian horror and follows a detective named Saru, a woman who fights crime in a gritty alternative version of Philadelphia. Her world includes brain-implanted internet streams, feuding cults, stray zombie-like creatures called elzi, and most importantly the conflicts between rival alien gods who see humans in a way much like humans see microbial cells. The story starts with her in the center of the devastation wrought by the events of the previous book and takes her through a new series of dangers, exploits, and revelations.
The first book was really fast-paced, and in comparison this second one is pretty slow. It centers on Saru and a Gaesporan (a member of the hive-mind-ish social elite) named John, and a lot of pagetime is spent explaining mysteries that came up in the first book and explaining the rules of this world. In the first book the supernatural implications of the events were initially unknown and Saru uncovered them little by little. Here we receive long detailed explanations of how things are and why they are the way they are. It was a bit heavy on exposition because of this. John knows the answers to all of Saru’s questions, and he explains these answers in long stretches of dialogue. The moments of action were fewer and more spaced out than in the first, but this didn’t bother me. I expect that at least one more book in the series is forthcoming, and it will benefit from having the world laid out more clearly.
One of this work’s main strengths is Saru’s narrative voice. She’s an extreme character, but she is consistent in her extremeness and her voice and attitude fits her personality. Here we see her less as a fighter and detective and more as a lost and fugitive young woman, a facet of her personality which existed in the first book but took a backseat to her hard-boiled-detective shtick. We get to know her better here, we see more of her weaknesses and insecurities. This comes in a large part from her being removed from her comfort zone, that is to say the crime-ridden alt-reality Philadelphia. In this book she spends more time in differing places and trapped inside her own memories, which uproots her and sets her in a more abstract kind of world. Due to this, the crime aspect and the cyberpunk aspect of the first book are largely discarded.
At this time there isn’t a third book in the series, and I haven’t seen any announcements for one yet. Nonetheless, I expect that there will be a third, and I look forward to it. As I said before, I enjoy this series and I’d recommend it to others. Of course, it features mature themes and isn’t for children or especially sensitive readers. It’s horror, after all. If you pick up a book of horror fiction you know what you’re getting into.
Now as always, my bit of promo. If you liked this book review, you can see my others here: New Book Review 1–New Book Review 2–New Book Review 3–New Book Review 4–New Book Review 5–New Book Review 6–New Book Review 7– New Book Review 8–New Book Review 9 –New Book Review 10–New Book Review 11–New Book Review 12–New Book Review 13–New Book Review 14–New Book Review 15–New Book Review 16–New Book Review 17