This morning I finished Jeff VanderMeer's brilliant new novel, Finch, a perfect marriage of dark fantasy and darker noir and a satisfying conclusion to the Ambergris cycle. Having closed the book only a few hours ago, I'm still consumed by the city of perpetual transformation and war, by the grotesque gray caps and their fungal magic, by green-gold doors and possible worlds, by fractious rebellions, shadowy characters, and suggested monsters. By VanderMeer's muscular prose, fantastic set pieces, surreal imagery, and deeply affecting denouement.
Now, I can't find my way back from Ambergris to my own world.
So, to exorcise Ambergris from my mind, I thought I'd write an in-depth review about Finch. For the last hour, I've typed furiously, attempting to express my affection for the book in greater detail. With each passing paragraph, though, I'd fall deeper and deeper into VanderMeer's world -- and further away from adequately describing it: The more words I typed, the less I seemed to actually say about Finch.
I could muster no better than this, just a few sentences I posted on a message board right after finishing the book:
This morning I finished VanderMeer's Finch. A tough, bruising story; a perfect melding of fantasy and noir; and a beautiful, fitting conclusion to Ambergris. I must admit, the last page hit me emotionally: It's been a long journey for Ambergris fans, and Finch delivers a bittersweet finale, recording a sort of beginning and ending, taking note of a crossroads, not just for the fictional city but for the author as well. The book, probably my favorite of the year, exceeded my lofty expectations and makes me want to re-read the three-book cycle. For this reader, Ambergris is a masterpiece of modern fantasy and one of the most original works of weird fiction to be published this decade.