Artist Nicholas goes to the sinister Quin to buy a meerkat and winds up missing. His twin sister Nicola combs the city of Veniss looking for him and also disappears and it's up to Shadrach, Nicholas' friend and Nicola's former lover, to find them. Can Shadrach find them before Quin finds him?
Veniss Underground is the first of Jeff Vandermeer's new weird works. While it's not as pants-shittingly awesome as some of his later works, it's still really good.
Veniss takes place in a dystopian future. Artificial life forms abound and life is cheap. Veniss sits atop a vast underworld, an underworld that Shadrach must scour in order to find Nicola. While not as detailed as Ambergris, Veniss is almost a character in its own right. The meerkats, the ganeshas, and the other artificial life forms are really creepy.
The way Vandermeer tells the story is masterful. The first part is told by Nicholas in the first person. The second part is about Nichola and told in the second person, and the third part is told in the third person and features Shadrach. Shadrach's tale is almost a retelling of the story of Orpheus, except with a talking meerkat head glued to a plate and a villian living inside a mile wide fish. Crazy, crazy stuff with lots of grotesque characters.
While I didn't like Veniss Underground as much as I did Finch, it was still one hell of a good read. Highly recommended to all new weird and Vandermeer fans.