This Census-Taker by China Miéville
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A boy lives with his mother and father high in the hills in an unfinished house. His father is a key maker, who often has to quickly produce keys for strangers who knock at the door. They rarely descend to the village to see the others so he has a lonely life. Until one day he appears in the village alone, traumatised and very scared, claiming that he has just witnessed a murder. Left alone with a parent who is become more deranged he feels more and more isolated. That is until another stranger knocks on the door; this time he isn’t here to request a key, but to elicit information and determine facts. Is he friend, or foe, or something that will challenge everything.
This is strange, in the way that only a Miéville book can be, things that are clear become muddied and aspects that were crystal clear become opaque. There is a lot of subtle terror and creepy moments in this story as well as elements of mystery. It feels to like there is a underlying vein of magic to the world he has created. I like books with messy endings, but this didn’t feel that it was resolved though. It is good but not at the same level as his great books like The City and the City, Railsea and Perdido Street Station which seriously mess with your head.
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