Hummingbird Salamander (Jeff VanderMeer)
29 March 2023
A speculative thriller about the end of all things, set in the Pacific Northwest. A harrowing descent into a secret world.
'Jane Smith' receives an unexplained envelope containing the key to a storage unit. And inside that storage unit is a taxidermy hummingbird and directions to a taxidermy salamander. Somehow, this bizarre treasure hunt, that Jane never expected or asked for, sets in motion a series of events that quickly put her and her family in danger.
As she desperately seeks answers, she discovers time is running out – for her and possibly for the world.
Ross Hetherington (31 January 2024 22:04)
I loved the atmosphere of this more than anything - just felt like the modern world viewed through a certain lens. Not a one you would want to be trapped in, but I ultimately liked the main character, as she seemed to be doing what she could with a deeply flawed personality, amongst other things. Very effective writing. Plus the most horrific book I've ever read about in a book.
Paul Campbell (26 April 2023 12:56)
I would recommend this as an entry point for new readers to VanderMeer; very good, but not as weird and 'out there' as his best work. This is the VanderMeerian equivalent of a Michael Crichton eco-thriller and as such does not have the fecund imagination or, indeed, tour de force performance of "City of Saints and Madmen", his collection of linked novellas, short stories, appendices, mock-documents -essays etc. After Hummingbird Salamander I would suggest new readers move onto the Southern Reach trilogy then dive into Saints & Madmen.
Sinclair Manson (1 April 2023 18:51)
To me, this story is saturated with its protagonist's grim perspective, she as much of a mystery as the clues she obsessively follows. Every relationship is dysfunctional, everyone is corrupt and the world crumbles along with her ersatz life. Chasing a messiah and a miracle to fix her and the world, as she goes further and loses more, as every awful truth is outed, every chance of turning back vanishes. All that's left is a desperate, ambiguous act of faith. Not comforting to read in any way but brilliantly unsettling.