I discovered the works of China Miéville some years ago by reading the Novel “The City and The City“, the idea alone made me curious and I worked on finding more of this author. By doing this I found some books and – being a huge fan of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere – the book UnLunDun made me buy this one. In the opening pages of the book China Miéville even refers to the work of Neil Gaiman and thanks for the inspiration, he does so by saluting to other authors like Lewis Carroll and Beatrix Potter, too.
The story starts with two twelve year old girls, Zanna and Deeba who happen to find a door near their playground, somewhere in London. Out of curiosity they walk through that door and enter a completely different world where they find all the things that London forgot. All the things and also people that got obsolete somehow found their way into this world.
The two girls soon find out that there is a whole society dwelling there, an universe full of people who live in fear of a creature called Smog. A prophecy states that one day the Chosen One, the Shwazzy – in this case Danna – will come and free them of this evil creature. The first few chapters feel like the usual children fantasy story, there is an evil villain, there is the usual prophecy and then there is the saviour and all ends quite fast after a few chapters with the relaxing feeling that all has been solved. The two kids return safely to London and the people in UnLunDun feel safe again.
But … after returning home Zanna concludes that not all happened to be perfect and travels back to UnLunDun to warn the others. From this point on the author plays with the readers mind by confronting him with one twist after the other. It’s nice to see how a master storyteller like China Miéville takes a story like this and makes more of it. From the very first pages until the very end it the suspense never gets lost – I loved the scene within Westminster Abbey very much and since I read it I wanted to see this place even more, to see if it is in any way as creepy as it is described in the book. Apart from that we meet a lot of characters, stumble upon one dangerous situation after the other, this all in the companionship of a milk crate and a talking book. Imagine that!?
Furthermore, China Miéville not only wrote the book but also put some illustrations on a few pages just to make clear how those creatures looked like in his mind. Maybe I am not the only who is quite grateful for that – because imagining such creatures like words which come alive, evil giraffes, dustbins which move and fight like ninjas and more is amazing.
In the end it’s a book filled with many fantasy elements, a joyful and adventurous ride, enjoyable for kids and adults, too.