Quantum of Nightmares – a Laundry Files Adventure by Charles Stross from @orbitbooks #BookReview #Fantasy

Quantum of Nightmares – a Laundry Files Adventure by Charles Stross,

Orbit, H/B, £18.99

Reviewed by Steve Dean

I own and have read this author’s entire science fiction collection, but by some cruel trick of the universe, I’ve never read any of the several Laundry Files books.

For those of you unfamiliar with this world, it’s basically our own with added magic and superpowers. They have such things as supermarkets, helicopters, and rampant capitalism, but also a demon god as Prime Minister, and the death penalty, complete with heads-on-spikes, for most crimes.

The story has three main threads, all of which overlap at certain points and come together at the end.

Eve Starkey is acting head of the Bigge Corporation, mainly because her boss is lost in an alternate dimension and might or might not be dead. Unfortunately, her boss has left a lethal trap for her, which she’s just about to discover.

Wendy Deere works as a private investigator of magical crimes. She’s called on to investigate the disappearance of several homeless people and the strange goings-on at a local supermarket.

Mary Macandless has money problems, so takes a job as a nanny to kidnap the children of a couple of famous superheroes, who turn out to be not so defenceless as she’d thought.

Various other characters serve as the links between the plots. All the characters are well-written, believable and suitable for the story. The world-building is original and very atmospheric once you get into it, which, I have to admit, took me a while. Never having read any of this series before, I didn’t manage to suspend reality until a good quarter of the way in. Luckily for me, it wasn’t too late, and it was worth the effort.

The whole book is very well written, very easy to read and difficult to put down. It all flows along very smoothly. The author is very inventive and witty and can turn a phrase that makes you laugh as well as stop and think. A very lateral approach to phrasing as well as a literal one. This isn’t a comedy as such; the humour mostly comes from within the writing, not the situations. Having said that, it doesn’t take itself too seriously either. I will apologise to the author in advance and then say this book is like a more adult, science fantasy version of Terry Pratchett’s books.

Overall, I would greatly recommend this book. Now I’m off to find some more in the series.