No Happy Nonsense

Finch / Jeff VanderMeer

April 28th, 2023 | Quick Thoughts

Finchy, Finchy, Finchy...where do we even begin?

John Finch is a detective working in the city of Ambergris.

Ambergris is a failed city; taken over by a species of mushroom-people called The Gray Caps during an event called "The Rising." Humans exist as fodder for the Gray Caps to use to keep the city barely functioning.

Finch isn't really a detective. He used to work as like, a courier, I think. Some kinda job for Hoegbotton and Sons. Wyte, now his detective partner, used to be his boss. Wyte is infected with some sort of spore disease; maybe it's getting worse, maybe it's not.

Finch is called to a crime scene in an apartment. Two bodies; one gray cap, one human. The gray cap is cut in half. There's no blood anywhere, no signs of death really. Finch thinks perhaps the man was killed by falling from a great height. Finch's boss, another gray cap, sprinkles some mushroom dust onto the bodies and a day later a memory bulb grows from each of them. Ingesting the memory bulbs makes a person relive the lives of the individuals.

It is here where everything goes wrong for Finch. The final part (for now?) of the Ambergris Cycle, I loved this book damn near cover to cover. It's a culmination of Ambergris in more ways that one, and the first time the writing is presented as more or less a straight forward narrative fiction work; a conventional novel. The preceding volumes immerse the reader into the history, the lore, the weirdness of Ambergris. Finch burns that all away via the Rising. You feel like the city was taken from you, as it was taken from the human residents that still inhabit it. But was it really ever yours? Wasn't it just stolen from the gray caps to begin with? And what are those towers they're building, what are they really going to be used for?

I have the intention to read the entirety of the Ambergris collected volume end to end one day, so as to fully experience it as one massive story told over hundreds of years and dozens of characters. Maybe if VanderMeer decides to write Zamilon, I'll plan a re-read with the release of that. But many more books to go, Vandemeer and others.

Filed Under: Reviews