The Grand Dark
From the bestselling author of the Sandman Slim series, a lush, dark, stand-alone fantasy built off the insurgent tradition of China Mieville and M. John Harrison—a subversive tale that immerses us in a world where the extremes of bleakness and beauty exist together in dangerous harmony in a city on the edge of civility and chaos.The Great War is over. The city of Lower Proszawa celebrates the peace with a decadence and carefree spirit as intense as the war’s horrifying despair. But this newfound hedonism—drugs and sex and endless parties—distracts from strange realities of everyday life: Intelligent automata taking jobs. Genetically engineered creatures that serve as pets and beasts of war. A theater where gruesome murders happen twice a day. And a new plague that even the ceaseless euphoria can’t mask.Unlike others who live strictly for fun, Largo is an addict with ambitions. A bike messenger who grew up in the slums, he knows the city’s streets and its secrets intimately. His life seems set. He has a beautiful girlfriend, drugs, a chance at a promotion—and maybe, an opportunity for complete transformation: a contact among the elite who will set him on the course to lift himself up out of the streets.But dreams can be a dangerous thing in a city whose mood is turning dark and inward. Others have a vision of life very different from Largo’s, and they will use any methods to secure control. And in behind it all, beyond the frivolity and chaos, the threat of new war always looms.

The Grand Dark Details

TitleThe Grand Dark
Author
ReleaseJun 11th, 2019
PublisherHarper Voyager
ISBN-139780062672537
Rating
GenreFantasy, Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Adult

The Grand Dark Review

  • Chelsea Humphrey
    January 1, 1970
    Calling this a DNF @ page 97. The cover is gorgeous, and the idea is really clever and intriguing, but I found the pacing to be far too slow, and I see I'm not the only early reviewer to feel this way so far. I think this will be a great book for the right reader, and I hope those looking for a slow burning stand-alone adult fantasy will give The Grand Dark a try for themselves. *Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
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  • Dave
    January 1, 1970
    Kadrey's The Grand Dark is an expedition into a world of fantasy very different from sword-battling rascals and pirate conquests. Think more Kafka meets Orwell meets Germanic Steampunk. First, of all, the world created in this novel is at once sort of familiar, but in other respects, unique, different, odd. The setting is dreary, coal-fired smoke-filled, war-ruined City of Lower Proszawa following a Great War that left Upper Proszawa a world of desolation, ruin, and plague. The place names and w Kadrey's The Grand Dark is an expedition into a world of fantasy very different from sword-battling rascals and pirate conquests. Think more Kafka meets Orwell meets Germanic Steampunk. First, of all, the world created in this novel is at once sort of familiar, but in other respects, unique, different, odd. The setting is dreary, coal-fired smoke-filled, war-ruined City of Lower Proszawa following a Great War that left Upper Proszawa a world of desolation, ruin, and plague. The place names and words used to describe things feel German, or at least Eastern European. The setting is a city after a huge war struggling to recover and filled with theaters, actors, dancing, parties, and drugs. It feels like the decadence of Weimar Germany after the First World War, but it is not, despite the U-boats. It is someplace in Kadrey's wild imagination. It is also a city that operates like a police state with secret informers everywhere, a ragtag band of revolutionaries, and proletariats everywhere. Drabness, uniformity, and fear are spread like a cancer. And, there's plague brought back from the war and veterans from the war so scarred that they wear masks and parade through the streets. Kadrey doesn't exactly give a full exposition of the world he creates and allows the reader to slowly grasp it as the layers of the onion are each pulled back. And, perhaps that is why, rather than have the main protagonist be the greatest swordsman of two worlds or a swashbuckling .007, it's a lowly bike messenger who is half the time hopped on Morphia, late for his own funeral, and without a care for anything beyond his own daily life which includes cavorting with famed actress Remy and her happy-dappy thespian friends at crazy parties at which costumes, cocaine, and morphia are everywhere. And, this world also includes Maras, the German word for nightmares, which are automatons that carry things across the city and work in factories and as maids and butlers. As fascinating as this whole world is, the key to this novel is that you are not sucked into a great adventure at the start, but the bike messenger's petty little world, his promotion to the chief courier, his plodding through bad neighborhoods, and his sweet romance with Remy. You wonder at first where this is going and whether the plot will ever thicken. Just be confident that you are slowly being swept into this gray world and many things may not turn out to be what you think or characters who you think they are.
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  • Sh3lly (GrumpyBookGrrrl.com)
    January 1, 1970
    Review also found at:https://grumpybookgrrrl.com/2019/06/1...Buddy read with the MacHalos starting June 11, 2019.Release date: June 11, 2019 by Harper Voyager. Gorgeous cover alert!Largo is a bicycle messenger who delivers parcels to people all over the city, whether they are in the slums or live in a wealthy area. His girlfriend, Remy, is a performer in a theater called The Grand Dark. Largo and Remy hang out with artistic people at parties, do drugs, make love, live hard and fast like the yout Review also found at:https://grumpybookgrrrl.com/2019/06/1...Buddy read with the MacHalos starting June 11, 2019.Release date: June 11, 2019 by Harper Voyager. Gorgeous cover alert!Largo is a bicycle messenger who delivers parcels to people all over the city, whether they are in the slums or live in a wealthy area. His girlfriend, Remy, is a performer in a theater called The Grand Dark. Largo and Remy hang out with artistic people at parties, do drugs, make love, live hard and fast like the youth.The setting is a post-war dystopian steampunk world that I believe is based off Germany and/or Russia? There are automatons, some people have prosthetic mechanical limbs, there are chimeras, and psychic mediums.I respect that the author tried for something very different here compared to the Sandman Slim and Coop heist books. This one is more serious and not as madcap and witty. This is my third Kadrey book, and I am a newbie Sandman fan (only read the first). This is a dark, repressed, fearful world where any misstep can get you in trouble with the police or the secret police.Largo is an unwitting participant in almost all areas of his life. He is a nice guy, but gets taken advantage of. He ends up getting involved in several different groups. I really liked the characters of Anita, who plays a rebellious artist/dancer/performer and Rainer, Largo’s disfigured soldier friend.I’ll be honest, while I enjoyed this, I felt it took a bit long to get to the meat (action) of the story. There is a significant amount of drug use in this story, which, considering the depressed and bullied society, it makes sense. Largo does grow a lot and overcome many obstacles. Sometimes, I just felt so sorry for the guy because he couldn’t catch a break. But, he does stop being a doormat!Thank you to Netgalley and publisher for providing a digital eARC to read and review.
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  • Kristen Burns
    January 1, 1970
    3 StarsReview:*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley & Edelweiss. This has not influenced my review.*This was one of those books that had a low thrum of tension throughout the whole thing, that feeling that things were weird and wrong even though you didn’t yet know what. But since I didn’t really know what the plot was working toward, I didn’t have this sense of things building, and the book felt slow for about the first 2/3. The beginning of the book also seemed to be more world-b 3 StarsReview:*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley & Edelweiss. This has not influenced my review.*This was one of those books that had a low thrum of tension throughout the whole thing, that feeling that things were weird and wrong even though you didn’t yet know what. But since I didn’t really know what the plot was working toward, I didn’t have this sense of things building, and the book felt slow for about the first 2/3. The beginning of the book also seemed to be more world-building and descriptions of settings than plot, and the articles and things that were between chapters sometimes only slowed the pace more. That being said, once things did really start building and take off around the last third, they got pretty twisty and complex.Largo’s characterization was really well done though. He was so flawed, yet also a character I sympathized with. He had dreams, but he just kind of settled with his life as it was. He had a pretty dead-end job and a crappy apartment, and he spent most of his free time and money on drugs, including one called morphia that he was addicted to. Largo didn’t always make great decisions in life, but he had a good heart. He cared about others. He wasn’t as judgmental as many people around him were. And when he came across an opportunity to better himself and maybe one day achieve his dreams, he jumped on it. He also realized some things about himself and changed throughout the story. The supporting characters felt believable too, even if they weren’t explored as much. This book also did a great job showing how situations and lives and people can spiral down or out of control.I’m not sure if this is considered sci-fi or fantasy or some combo of the two. Personally I’d say it’s kind of dystopian. It’s got robotic technology and government conspiracies and plague and strange creatures made with eugenics all set in a darkly decadent and vice-ridden city.I struggled with what rating to give this book because it wasn’t a bad book, but it still wasn’t quite right for me. I struggled with all the description and with not knowing where the plot was going, but the characterization of the main character was strong and there was a lot of complexity put into the story, and I think some readers will really enjoy this!Recommended For:Anyone who likes flawed characters, detailed world-building, lots of mystery and tension, and a slow-building plot. Original Review @ Metaphors and Moonlight
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  • Diana
    January 1, 1970
    The premise sounded so great I wanted to enjoy this book, but I found out I couldn't care less for the characters or how the story moved. The pace of it was off for me, but I can't quite put my finger on "why". I just felt lost inside the story, like I was missing a bit more of world building or situating myself inside the story, but neither it or the characters caught my interest.
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  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this to me in exchange for my open and honest review. First off, I want to say that Richard Kadrey is the man and hands down one of my favorite authors. The Sandman Slim saga is a story that has made me cheer for the dark antihero, the fallible Slim. It is dark and twisted, and in my opinion, one of the perfect urban fantasy series out there. It has it all, which is why I did backflips when I got approved. The Grand Dark was my mos Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this to me in exchange for my open and honest review. First off, I want to say that Richard Kadrey is the man and hands down one of my favorite authors. The Sandman Slim saga is a story that has made me cheer for the dark antihero, the fallible Slim. It is dark and twisted, and in my opinion, one of the perfect urban fantasy series out there. It has it all, which is why I did backflips when I got approved. The Grand Dark was my most anticipated release of this year so far. That is why it pains me to DNF this at 50%. The Grand Dark is not a bad book in any stretch of the word. Kadrey is a master worldbuilder. The world he creates here is rich, lusty, and dark. It has vice and wonder, with just a tinge of steampunk. The pervasive drug use and the bisection of classes add a very interesting visual to an already cool world. What made me stop was the pacing. The pacing is slow, plodding. At times it is so slow that I can't find a plot amidst the rich language and description. The intercuts of the story between chapters would have added a great backstory to a faster-paced book, but in this book, it turns things into a slog. I stopped reading it because I was not the right reader for this type of storytelling, but the correct reader is out there. If you like languid storytelling very much in the vein of Perdido Street Station by China Mieville, this is a good fit for you. If you would like to read more of my reviews, check out my page on beforewegoblog.com
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  • Jypsy
    January 1, 1970
    I so wanted to like The Grand Dark, but it didn't work out that way. This is a seriously slow going story, and the pace caused disinterest for me. I read and skimmed some because I could not connect with this story. Unfortunately, this one is a miss. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Jordan
    January 1, 1970
    Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature!The Grand Dark is an unpredictable, enthralling read full of thing you won't see coming. After finishing the book, I noticed on Goodreads that there are quite a lot of mixed reviews for this and I find that rather disappointing. There are definitely some areas for improvement in these pages, which I'll discuss later in my review, but there's so much more in the way of exciting ideas and engaging characters that made this extremely enjoyable for me. Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature!The Grand Dark is an unpredictable, enthralling read full of thing you won't see coming. After finishing the book, I noticed on Goodreads that there are quite a lot of mixed reviews for this and I find that rather disappointing. There are definitely some areas for improvement in these pages, which I'll discuss later in my review, but there's so much more in the way of exciting ideas and engaging characters that made this extremely enjoyable for me. This is a book that will absolutely keep you on your toes.The world-building in The Grand Dark is strong and introduces a rather gritty location on the heels of a The Great War which has left the city rife with dirt, disease, and a slow recovery. Based upon the names of various places within this book and the usage of 'Herr' and the like, it also has what seems to be a German influence on the world, though I'm not sure exactly what the inspiration for this was. Within this book we mainly visit Upper Prozsawa and Lower Proszawa, both places that our protagonist, Largo, visits on a regular basis due to his job as a bike messenger/delivery man. This is a setting with advanced AI types of technology as well, such as delivery machines that deliver to businesses and that Largo fears will eradicate his own job, as well as 'Maras' that are human-like robotic beings that can act as assistants, cleaners, door openers, etc. There's also the Grand Dark itself, a rather odd sort of theatre that uses puppets to act, but still manages to be extraordinarily gruesome, shocking, and violent. I'm madly intrigued by the Grand Dark and would happily read a collection of stories just about it.A big part of the first half of this book follows Largo on many of his delivery runs and I loved these parts. This is the portion of the book where some of Kadrey's world-building really shines because we gt to explore different portions of the city (Lower and Upper), including both the shady, the scary, the weird, and the extraordinarily rich. These runs were just a lot of fun to me, both because we got to explore the city and also because of the interactions Largo has with his boss and those he has with people he runs into on his deliveries. Kadrey excels at writing sharp dialogue with subtle wit and sarcasm.I really liked Largo as a main character. He was very normal and grounded; he's not overly self-deprecating about himself, he has a steady girlfriend who he's madly in love with, and he has a not-great-but-not-horrible job where he's a pretty good worker (minus some drug issues). He doesn't undergo any extreme development in this book, but he does still experience a good amount of growth in smaller, more subtle ways that really made his character a compelling one. There are some other colorful characters in this book in addition to Largo, such as his boss, Herr Branca; his girlfriend, Remy; his friend Parvulesco and his boyfriend, Roland; and a few other coworkers and friends of friends that keep things interesting. I thought that characters seemed to be one of Kadrey strong suits in this book, as I found myself really interested in each and enjoying how unique each person's personality was.Largo and Remy's relationship was one I really enjoyed as well, partially because I love when a book starts out with the protagonist already in a strong, loving relationship. They have a certain level of freedom with one another that refreshing, but at the end of the day they were unfailingly loyal to one another and wouldn't betray one another's trust. Kadrey doesAs much as I enjoyed The Grand Dark, it was not without its faults, either. The first issue that arose for me was mainly the inconsistent pacing, as the first half of the book had a really nice, slower pace that seemed to work well, but at some point in the latter half of the story it just sped up at an awkwardly rushed pace. Once one particularly semi-surprising event happened, everything just started snowballing after that in a fast-paced way that just felt like too much was going on too suddenly. The Grand Dark has multiple plot threads that run throughout the entire book, all of which do eventually tie together in the end, but they just didn't always mesh that well throughout the story itself. There were also a few particular types of "reveals" that felt like they came out of nowhere, but they still fit so I just felt a little mixed on them.My only other issue is with the technological components in this book, such as the maras and various details littered throughout about the tech in this society. I really liked how Kadrey crafted all of these things in the world, but I also feel like they weren't incorporated quite as well as they could have been. I struggled to place exactly what sort of innovative period this story was set in and it didn't make sense to me why they had some things, but not others. It's the type of setting that's advanced in a lot of ways, but still fairly like our world in others as if caught between two time periods. This also sort of overlaps with my confusion surrounding The Great War that seems to be the big backdrop for the events of this book. I needed more about the war and the people involved, including more information on what sort of world lay outside of Upper and Lower Prozsawa.Overall, I've given The Grand Dark four stars. I really debated if I should lower it since I did have some issues with this book, but in the end I still really enjoyed it and had a blast reading it, so four stars feels like a fair deal.
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  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this to me in exchange for my open and honest review. First off, I want to say that Richard Kadrey is the man and hands down one of my favorite authors. The Sandman Slim saga is a story that has made me cheer for the dark antihero, the fallible Slim. It is dark and twisted, and in my opinion, one of the perfect urban fantasy series out there. It has it all, which is why I did backflips when I got approved. The Grand Dark was my mos Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this to me in exchange for my open and honest review. First off, I want to say that Richard Kadrey is the man and hands down one of my favorite authors. The Sandman Slim saga is a story that has made me cheer for the dark antihero, the fallible Slim. It is dark and twisted, and in my opinion, one of the perfect urban fantasy series out there. It has it all, which is why I did backflips when I got approved. The Grand Dark was my most anticipated release of this year so far. That is why it pains me to DNF this at 50%. The Grand Dark is not a bad book in any stretch of the word. Kadrey is a master worldbuilder. The world he creates here is rich, lusty, and dark. It has vice and wonder, with just a tinge of steampunk. The pervasive drug use and the bisection of classes add a very interesting visual to an already cool world. What made me stop was the pacing. The pacing is slow, plodding. At times it is so slow that I can't find a plot amidst the rich language and description. The intercuts of the story between chapters would have added a great backstory to a faster-paced book, but in this book, it turns things into a slog. I stopped reading it because I was not the right reader for this type of storytelling, but the correct reader is out there. If you like languid storytelling very much in the vein of Perdido Street Station by China Mieville, this is a good fit for you. If you would like to read more of my reviews, check out my page on beforewegoblog.com
    more
  • Emily Lind
    January 1, 1970
    It's a very cool thing when one of your favorite authors goes outside of their normal style and then absolutely kills it. That's what has happened with The Grand Dark. Sandman Slim was the first book of Kadrey's that I read and I've gone on to devour all his others novels. The Grand Dark is a different beast for him, but showcases all of his talents when it comes to world-building and creating characters that you root for (and more importantly, care for). The Grand Dark works as a stand-alone no It's a very cool thing when one of your favorite authors goes outside of their normal style and then absolutely kills it. That's what has happened with The Grand Dark. Sandman Slim was the first book of Kadrey's that I read and I've gone on to devour all his others novels. The Grand Dark is a different beast for him, but showcases all of his talents when it comes to world-building and creating characters that you root for (and more importantly, care for). The Grand Dark works as a stand-alone novel, but I certainly hope that Kadrey revisits it in the future. He's set up a fascinating world with tantalizing glimpses of its politics, history, and technology. I'd love to spend more time falling into the lushness of it in the future.
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  • Will
    January 1, 1970
    2 / 5 ✪Reviewed on https://arefugefromlife.wordpress.com/“While Remy had played the vengeful bride in the first play, in this one she was Eva because being murdered was one of her greatest talents.”The Grand Dark is a Roaring-20’s dark noir set in a fictional world with robot, chimeras and more drugs than an entire nation must know what to do with. This vibrant, dark world brings us to the banks of Lower Proszawa, a city at the end of the world. Its populace now revel, having survived the Great 2 / 5 ✪Reviewed on https://arefugefromlife.wordpress.com/“While Remy had played the vengeful bride in the first play, in this one she was Eva because being murdered was one of her greatest talents.”The Grand Dark is a Roaring-20’s dark noir set in a fictional world with robot, chimeras and more drugs than an entire nation must know what to do with. This vibrant, dark world brings us to the banks of Lower Proszawa, a city at the end of the world. Its populace now revel, having survived the Great War which stole away their sister city, High Proszawa, formerly set across the bay. Though the city can be incredibly vivid and detailed, the lore surrounding it is anything but. The lead POV, Largo, though possessed of visions for his future, is happy now just living for tomorrow. His lover, Remy, stars at the Grand Darkness Theatre itself, and shortly into the tale, Largo lands himself a new gig, complete with higher pay and all the advantages it brings him. Unfortunately, he is soon confronted with a mystery the likes of which he doesn’t even seem to pick up on for over half the book. 9% in - For supposedly happy citizens, they all seem to do a lot of drugsThe Grand Dark is a perfect example of a good idea let down by its own lofty expectations. Its blurb describes the book as “a subversive tale that immerses us in a world where the extremes of bleakness and beauty exist together in dangerous harmony in a city on the edge of civility and chaos”. Indeed, it is the world itself that makes The Grand Dark a triumph, if only for but a moment. Kadrey does well to paint an alluring picture of a nation ravaged by war, on the brink of chaos, its hedonistic populace living for the day rather than saving for the ‘morrow. Except for a few key details.Despite the mention of the Great War haunting near each and every page in the book, we really never find out anything about it. High Proszawa was reduced to rubble; the Lower city survived; veterans of the war—known as ‘Iron Dandies’—skulk about, their mutilated faces hidden beneath iron masks; and… that’s about it. The enemy is just referred to as “the enemy”, if at all. The cause of the war is never mentioned, or questioned.25% in - While the scenes and world are interesting, there’s very little in the way of plot thus far. Secret police and dissent; drugs, sex, lies and more drugs; and a film noir setting help paint a dark but beautiful picture—yet it’s next to worthless without a discernible plot.In the prompt, and indeed later on in the text, it states the city is on the brink of chaos. Except it doesn’t really feel as though it is. Largo sure as hell never notices it. Or, at least, never points it out. Until one day it pops up and he doesn’t question it. Sure, there is dissenting literature, and a police force attempting to clamp down on it. But Largo isn’t really a political sort, so he pays it no mind. And when the chaos begins, it was as if he knew it would happen eventually.The hedonism is definitely shown. For roughly 70% of the book, if you’d have told me this was a story of a guy who would alternating riding around on a bike with having sex, only to fill the other 90% in with drugs and booze, I wouldn’t’ve questioned it. Thing is, while there was a bit of mystery lurking around, to that two-thirds mark, no clear plot had emerged.51% in - A bit of mystery, but still no plot. Instead of evolving a plot, we took some other drugs and had an orgy.I have to give the drugs their own mention. From what I’ve read in a number of other reviews, I was not alone in feeling put off by the sheer amount of narcotic paraphernalia. But Largo is obviously an addict, and addicts often do devote an awful lot of time to whatever they’re addicted to. The thing is, for the amount of time Kadrey dwelt on this, I left the book feeling like he didn’t actually know what he was talking about. Later in the story, Largo gives up morphia—it’s not really a plot point, so I don’t feel bad spoiling it. He’s pretty much hopelessly addicted by this point, having been on it pretty much since the war ended. He kicks it, cold-turkey and in a couple days, is feeling no adverse side-effects. I mean… none. It doesn’t seem like the author understands how addiction and withdrawal work. Which is impressive from the sheer amount of cocaine, morphia, hashish and whatnot is present in the book.One thing Richard Kadrey has always done well is his dialogue. The Sandman Slim books championed the foul, sarcastic asshole that was James Stark. At first, Largo is a sweet talking, playful scamp, and the entire world around him bends to his will. Despite having so many issues, The Grand Dark benefits from generally interesting conversations—even if the mostly revolve around hallucinogens. Towards the end, this all changes. No spoilers; it just devolves to a quick, dirty way to relay information. It seems that, after the three-quarters mark, Richard Kadrey was just as impatient to get it over with as I was.85% in - The dialogue, once one of Kadrey’s strong suits, has been reduced to bare bones info with a slight flowering. It seems that he—like myself—just wants to get this book over with.Even the positive points I listed for the novel soon fell through. While initially I was entertained by the detailed city, the snippets of lore introduced between chapters, and Largo himself—the appeal of these quickly faded. The further I got in, the more cramped the world felt; nothing outside Lower (and High) Proszawa is even mentioned. The flashes of randomness between chapters became just that—introducing nothing new, just more sex, drugs and more drugs. As for Largo himself… he’s not right for this tale. It just doesn’t work well as told through him. He’s too naïve, too slow on the uptake; it’s almost as if he’s fighting the story that tries to take hold of him.The bottomline: The Grand Dark is a highly ambitious project—one that just didn’t work out. The author spends overly long developing a story that seems amateurish when it finally comes together. The abundance of narcotics (half the damn book was a constant cocktail of morphia and cocaine), detracted from rather than added to the story. Little to no character development, a city surrounded by fog, references to things that are never revealed, a story that couldn’t wait to finish—are all reasons to skip this book. It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever read, but far, faaar from the best.
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  • Margaux
    January 1, 1970
    I didn't even get past the second chapter, so I don't really feel like I have the right to rate this or even put it on my "read" shelf, but I like to keep track of everything because my memory is terrible. So, note to future self: this wasn't for me.I absolutely love Kadrey's Sandman Slim series and also thought The Everything Box was hilarious and entertaining. This book is nothing like those. It was missing the humor and snark that I love from his writing, as well as the adventure and action. I didn't even get past the second chapter, so I don't really feel like I have the right to rate this or even put it on my "read" shelf, but I like to keep track of everything because my memory is terrible. So, note to future self: this wasn't for me.I absolutely love Kadrey's Sandman Slim series and also thought The Everything Box was hilarious and entertaining. This book is nothing like those. It was missing the humor and snark that I love from his writing, as well as the adventure and action. But, as I said, I only read two chapters so maybe if I would have stuck with it, action and adventure would have eventually come into it? I'm not willing to find out. I think I'll just read The Wrong Dead Guy to get my Kadrey fix instead. :)
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  • Hannah
    January 1, 1970
    I really wanted to like this one but it just wasn't for me. The setting is gorgeous and lush and so completely atmospheric. I like Largo and Branca and Remy and even all the background characters. The bones of this novel are definitely good. Sadly, the story is lacking. At 25% in, I'm not even sure what it's about. The pacing is very slow. There's a bit of foreshadowing in regards to what the plot actually is, but getting there has taken so long that I've stopped caring. If you're a fan of slow, I really wanted to like this one but it just wasn't for me. The setting is gorgeous and lush and so completely atmospheric. I like Largo and Branca and Remy and even all the background characters. The bones of this novel are definitely good. Sadly, the story is lacking. At 25% in, I'm not even sure what it's about. The pacing is very slow. There's a bit of foreshadowing in regards to what the plot actually is, but getting there has taken so long that I've stopped caring. If you're a fan of slow, atmospheric reads this might be for you. I thought I was getting something bigger.
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  • Caitlyn Warren
    January 1, 1970
    I tired....I picked this up a few times trying to get through the pacing of this book. As everyone can see the cover is beautiful and the concept is interesting. It's just a very slowly paced book and because of that I just can't really get into it. I liked the articles and entries between the chapters giving history and I'm sure there are people who will love this story. I just couldn't get into it unfortunately.
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  • Steve
    January 1, 1970
    I received this from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.Like many others, Sandman Slim is one of my favorite series. Also like many others, I struggled with this one. It's slow and plodding, and it is quite a slog wait for the story develop. I guess I'm used to the faster pace of Sandman Slim.This was by no means a bad book. The writing was quite descriptive and it places the reader right in the midst of this dreary, dank, and dirty world the author has created. I may even go back and re I received this from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.Like many others, Sandman Slim is one of my favorite series. Also like many others, I struggled with this one. It's slow and plodding, and it is quite a slog wait for the story develop. I guess I'm used to the faster pace of Sandman Slim.This was by no means a bad book. The writing was quite descriptive and it places the reader right in the midst of this dreary, dank, and dirty world the author has created. I may even go back and reread this one someday, when I feel like reading a slow burn.
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  • Elena Linville
    January 1, 1970
    You can find this review and more on my blog.Stars: 2 out of 5 (and that's pushing it because at least the language is good)I love the Sandman Slim series, so I really, REALLY, wanted to love this book... I was so excited to receive the ARC from Netgalley that I pushed all my other half-read books aside to start this as soon as possible. Unfortunately, my excitement soon turned into bewilderment, then annoyance, then boredom. I finished it only because I was already 75% done and felt like I'd al You can find this review and more on my blog.Stars: 2 out of 5 (and that's pushing it because at least the language is good)I love the Sandman Slim series, so I really, REALLY, wanted to love this book... I was so excited to receive the ARC from Netgalley that I pushed all my other half-read books aside to start this as soon as possible. Unfortunately, my excitement soon turned into bewilderment, then annoyance, then boredom. I finished it only because I was already 75% done and felt like I'd already suffered enough torture to stick around and see the ending... which was nothing to call home about.So what went wrong with this book? Oh where do I begin? Get comfortable, it's gonna take a while.First and biggest problem, in my opinion, is the pacing. NOTHING, and I mean, nothing happens in the first 3/4 of the book. The protagonist delivers some packages, then goes home to get high on drugs and have sex with his girlfriend. Rinse, repeat. for over 300 pages!!! Then the action suddenly picks up around page 300 and we careen to the end at a neck breaking speed. It would be good if the pacing was justified, but it feels exhausting, almost as if the author suddenly realized that he only had 400 odd pages to tell the story and decided to cram all of it in the last 100 instead of editing the beginning and cutting most of the boring bits out. The action feels more like an outline that has been hastily fleshed out just enough to pass mustard. And the big reveal, final big bad, as well as the ending are underwhelming to say the least. I might have been okay with the lack of story in the beginning if the protagonist was interesting enough to follow along with. But Largo is anything but. He is a doormat. He has no initiative. All his life he simply floats with the current thinking only about his next score or his girlfriend. He doesn't DRIVE the story, he just floats along in the current. So when it's not even clear where that current is going, this gets boring very fast. And even when he actually decides to do something, he doesn't actually have to work to accomplish anything. There are no real efforts on his part. He needs to make an urgent delivery and his tires are slashed? Hey, perfect time for character growth and for the author to actually make him DO something to change his circumstance... But no, another courtier, who was never mentioned as being his friend, lends him her bike. Why? Because reasons only known to the author. Mostly, I suspect to move the story along. He decides to go to Higher Proszawa, which is a battlefield and a quarantine zone off limits for everyone. Does he plan this trip? Does he, you know, gather supplies, investigate the means of getting there an back? Actually do something to get this done? Nope... He just mentions this to his friend Raineer and magically, everything is taken care off. He suddenly has money, and a weapon, and a convenient way in and out via a smuggler his friend knows. Everything handed to him on a sliver platter. I could go on and on about this, but that would just be beating a dead horse. This character is as interesting as a doorknob. And he is the protagonist, which can tell you a lot about the other characters in this book. They are all cardboard cutouts that have a role to play to push the doormat Largo along. The girlfriend who has zero personality apart from being beautiful and in love with Largo. And her sole purpose in the story is to get captured to push the protagonist into action (or what passes for action for this one). The best friend and wounded veteran that conveniently still has all his contacts and can part with a wad of cash even though he lives in a dilapidated apartment on a meager government pension. And so on, and so forth.And finally, the worldbuilding really sucks. We are told there was a great war that Lower Proszawa won, but we don't know when that happened, and who they were fighting against. The other party is only ever mentioned as the Enemy. We also know absolutely nothing about the world outside of this city. I think one other "provincial" town is mentioned once, because a character was born there. Other than that, the rest of the world might as well not exist at all. In fact, at one point, I even wondered if Lower Proszawa was actually a purgatory for all the souls that died in the war. That would have explained the lack of information about the outside world or why the details of the Great War are so fuzzy, or why they live in constant fear of a new war... Now that's a twist I would have welcomed. Unfortunately, that wasn't meant to be.What we have instead is a sub-par story with a boring protagonist in a barely fleshed out world. Very disappointing book from the author of Sandman Slim series. I definitely won't recommend it. Save your money and your time for other books.
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  • Nancy D Miz-Firefly aka Sparky
    January 1, 1970
    I lusted for The Grand Dark from the moment I laid eyes on that cover. It looked magical; the first sentences promised me war, and it was written by the father of my all-time favorite badass, Sandman Slim. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Thank you Netgalley for fulfilling my wish. My heart thumped when I received notification of approval. Please don’t hold this review against me.How do I… What can I…. Oh just pull off the bandage already.The Grand Dark is an extraordinarily well written n I lusted for The Grand Dark from the moment I laid eyes on that cover. It looked magical; the first sentences promised me war, and it was written by the father of my all-time favorite badass, Sandman Slim. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Thank you Netgalley for fulfilling my wish. My heart thumped when I received notification of approval. Please don’t hold this review against me.How do I… What can I…. Oh just pull off the bandage already.The Grand Dark is an extraordinarily well written novel full of danger and debauchery. The main character is fully realized and very likable. All the characters are well crafted, and very well represented. And it bored me out of my ever-loving mind. It’s as the story began its life as a trilogy and was pared down to a single book. Sparing none of the origin story and stinting on the crisis.This is a great book for the right reader. Kadrey has crafted a no holds barred look into the police state and living on the knife edge of tyranny. The world building is dark and riddled with intrigue. Every aspect of this story is well crafted and incredibly believable. There are several interesting story elements, but it is slow as molasses in January and there is no sizzle. Just a couple of sweet kids so drugged they don’t feel the weight of the oppression that surrounds them. Or feel the sword that threatens to destroy their fragile existence.Die Hard fans of Sandman Slim should consider what they want out of their read before beginning . I made a huge mistake going into this one looking for the snark and verve of James Stark. The main character, Largo is Stark's polar opposite. He is earnest and thoughtful and charmingly naive.
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  • Dubi
    January 1, 1970
    Largo Moorden is a bike messenger in the grimy city of Lower Proszawa in the aftermath of The Great War. By day, Largo is meek, obsequious, determined to cycle as far below the radar as possible -- a requisite skill in a paranoid world of feckless bureaucrats, strong-arm police, all-knowing secret service, scheming industrialists, and the like. But by night, Largo inhabits the hedonistic drug-addled world of his lover, a star actress in the theater of the title, The Grand Dark.Largo is an Italia Largo Moorden is a bike messenger in the grimy city of Lower Proszawa in the aftermath of The Great War. By day, Largo is meek, obsequious, determined to cycle as far below the radar as possible -- a requisite skill in a paranoid world of feckless bureaucrats, strong-arm police, all-knowing secret service, scheming industrialists, and the like. But by night, Largo inhabits the hedonistic drug-addled world of his lover, a star actress in the theater of the title, The Grand Dark.Largo is an Italian musical term that means slow -- and yes, the pace of this book is largo. Moorden is dutch for murder. This may feel like murder if you find the pace too slow, but more to the point, it is about the slow burn of our protagonist as the world he tries to navigate (laying low by day, living it up after dark) starts to unravel.The payoff here is subtle. There is some action that drives the final third of the book, some revelations, some of them horrific. But until then, Kadrey is all about world building and character development. The character of Largo unfolds in an interesting manner -- as servile as he is in both aspects of his life, letting everyone around him dictate terms, we nevertheless get to see Largo's internal monologue as he cynically cuts through to the heart of the matter but only ever says something neutral (at best, with a touch of passive aggressive sarcasm), recognizing harsh truths in his mind but only ever taking the path of least resistance in his words and deeds.Until the slow burn finally explodes.Language is as much a character for Kadrey as Largo and Company. He seems to have taken great pains to capture the cadence and syntax of the era -- Germany between the wars, as it is often translated into English. The formalities of speech lend an indelible tone of calm and order that belies a social structure fractured by war and anticipating complete breakdown with the inevitable arrival of the next war. That Kadrey borrows so many terms from various European languages, particularly Germanic, adds to the exotic air, and makes for a fun game of trying to figure out the meanings (especially when it comes to names).The city itself, as is so common in noirish nightmare scenarios, becomes a character in its own right, each neighborhood described in detail, each with its own personality. The architecture, the street life, the very quality of the air, the color scheme -- a world with all of its tints in the latter stages of fading to sepia tones.Put it all together, and you have Kafkaesque terror-vision in a steampunk world (as Kadrey himself has called this book), the distorted perspectives and madness of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, the silent scream of Edvard Munch. Add in the opiated revelry of Cabaret, the urban dystopia of Metropolis, the revolutionary world of Potemkim, the bloodletting of Nosferau, and you have a German Expressionist fever dream that recalls Berlin between the wars but, secreted between the layers of the onion, hints darkly at the world we live in now.I have the advantage of not having read Kadrey before. Apparently, The Grand Dark is completely different than anything else he has written. Thus, I did not come in bearing expectations of Sandman Slim. I have also found myself learning more this year about World War I (our Great War) than I ever have before, so I found myself fascinated by this steampunk fantasy vision of post-WWI Germany.If you come at this with the proper expectations -- a slowly evolving, atmospheric, character-driven dreamscape -- you should enjoy it, as I did. The story came to a satisfactory ending, but it did seem to leave the door open to continuation -- where are Largo, Remy and Anita sailing to? I'm hoping for the kaleidoscopic equivalent of America in the 20s, 30s, 40s. Bring it on!
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  • Lou
    January 1, 1970
    Largo Moorden, a worker, a courier, starts 6am sharp in morning on his bicycle through districts delivering, on the road to more earnings and maybe promotion, after a hard days work, with a dose of morphia in the system, The Theatre of Grand Darkness a destination and entertainment of choice for many denizens of Lower Proszawa.Interesting characters intertwined within an ingenious concept and worldbuilding with this new world creation.The author successfully invests interest between the reader a Largo Moorden, a worker, a courier, starts 6am sharp in morning on his bicycle through districts delivering, on the road to more earnings and maybe promotion, after a hard days work, with a dose of morphia in the system, The Theatre of Grand Darkness a destination and entertainment of choice for many denizens of Lower Proszawa.Interesting characters intertwined within an ingenious concept and worldbuilding with this new world creation.The author successfully invests interest between the reader and key player Largo, he is on a journey through fears and complexities, finding ones fate amongst the chaos before him with the seditions and the conspiratorial movements in the cause of civilized absurdities, caught in a web, a good man in his time of chaos in this tale.Some interesting creations featured in this tale: The Maras, The Chimeras, Automaton, Black Widows, Juggernauts, Iron Dandy, The bullocks, Curio Hunters and AirshipsMany things need solving, including the plague and drops connections, and with love in the balance whilst his sentiments directed towards being a scientist and Chimera maker something darker a foot intercepts and diverting his work plans along with a threat of war looming, how this all pans out a great hook in this tale.
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  • Kathleen (QueenKatieMae)
    January 1, 1970
    Not finishing a book feels like a sin. An author spends months, years even, agonizing over each sentence, every word placement, each characters’ move, the plot. They pour their heart and soul into their work and it feels wrong to put it down and walk away. I’ve felt like that on many books I’ve tossed into the DNF pile but it kills me when it’s by an author I really like.A friend introduced me to Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim and I fell in love with the quirky urban fantasy series. I like his An Not finishing a book feels like a sin. An author spends months, years even, agonizing over each sentence, every word placement, each characters’ move, the plot. They pour their heart and soul into their work and it feels wrong to put it down and walk away. I’ve felt like that on many books I’ve tossed into the DNF pile but it kills me when it’s by an author I really like.A friend introduced me to Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim and I fell in love with the quirky urban fantasy series. I like his Another Coop Heist series as well. So when I heard he was writing a fiction novel-no demons or succubi or hellhounds involved-I instantly pre-ordered it. It pains me to say that The Grand Dark was so slow, so lacking in plot that I secretly hoped the author would drop a talking head, even a Jade, into the story to Get. It. Moving.Largo, a rather bland young man who works as a bicycle courier in some country that sounds part post-war Germany, part Cold War USSR. He spends his days in his ragged suit delivering packages, doing drugs, having sex with his actress girlfriend, doing drugs, hanging out with the quirky actor crowd, doing even more drugs. It went nowhere for 59% of the book before I finally called it and put it aside. By then there was a hint of a possible plot with a plot twist even, but at that point I was done. I’m not giving up on Kadry because I like his writing style, his snappy dialogue and his fantasy stories. I’m hoping this is just a glitch.I want to thank Edelweiss for their ARC of The Grand Dark. This review and it’s opinions are mine.
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  • Cathy
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars. This is very different than the Sandman Slim books. Diesel punk was a description I saw. It fits. It’s like a dark dream.
  • NerdyBookishBeauty
    January 1, 1970
    This story twisted me so I’m so many directions that I don’t even know how to review! I definitely recommend checking this book out if you love historical fiction with a twist.
  • Kathleen
    January 1, 1970
    A well-developed fantasy world with echoes of Mieville and Orwell but original and intriguing. The interspersed chapters of excerpts from diaries, memoirs, popular histories, guides, government reports etc. provide detailed and varied descriptions of Lower Proszawa.I found the pacing of the story just right __ starting slow and measured while building to a smashing crescendo like a great symphony.
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  • Valentina
    January 1, 1970
    The world building is beautifully and cleverly done in this novel. The insertion of news articles, diary entries and the like between the chapters of the narrative is a great way of giving the reader some history of the city and the world without boring them. The grimy atmosphere the whole novel has sets just the right tone. The problem I found was the pacing. The plot takes much too long to start and nothing that happens to the protagonist for the first 2/3s of the novel is really all that inte The world building is beautifully and cleverly done in this novel. The insertion of news articles, diary entries and the like between the chapters of the narrative is a great way of giving the reader some history of the city and the world without boring them. The grimy atmosphere the whole novel has sets just the right tone. The problem I found was the pacing. The plot takes much too long to start and nothing that happens to the protagonist for the first 2/3s of the novel is really all that interesting. There is a sense of disjointed pacing, too, when the action does take off. The scenes in Higher Proszawa are really rushed. I would have liked more world building there, to give us a sense of the horrors that lurked, but the author takes us through it at breakneck speed. Too much happens in the last 1/3 of the novel. It is packed with action that feels off when the rest has been so sedate. I mean, following a bike messenger on his errands is not all that captivating, especially since the author does not manage to tie all of those meetings and errands together in a way that actually matters. It really feels much more like the first part of a series than a stand-alone novel. Even Remy's storyline gets cut off abruptly, without any real explanation to the changes that have been forced on her. If this were part of a series, I could excuse some of the faults and would probably pick up the next installment to see what happens. As a stand-alone...eh.
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  • Shoshana G
    January 1, 1970
    I got this from NetGalley and I really enjoy the Sandman Slim books, but I gave up on this. I love world building, but all I was getting out of this book was descriptions of drugs. Nothing was sticking with me and I had no desire to keep reading. Oh well.
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  • Bakertyl
    January 1, 1970
    I've been a fan of Kadrey since stumbling on Sandman Slim back in 2013, and hating myself for missing such a great story for four years.  The beginning of this series was enticing, but it didn't meet my hopes and dreams.I loved the blurbs and summary of this story, but I just couldn't get excited or care about the characters.  The setting reminded me of a chintzy WWII story, with the "Herr"s and faux German names, but I can ignore that, that's just setting the scene... very Soviet/Nazi feeling, I've been a fan of Kadrey since stumbling on Sandman Slim back in 2013, and hating myself for missing such a great story for four years.  The beginning of this series was enticing, but it didn't meet my hopes and dreams.I loved the blurbs and summary of this story, but I just couldn't get excited or care about the characters.  The setting reminded me of a chintzy WWII story, with the "Herr"s and faux German names, but I can ignore that, that's just setting the scene... very Soviet/Nazi feeling, like the movie "Enemy at the Gates" if you ever saw that.  While forgiving the scene-setting and world-building, I can't forgive the characters.  The main characters are drug addicts, and while I haven't known many addicts, I can believe these. Let me tell you a story:I'm a high-school teacher, among other things.  We teachers once sat through a presentation that was going to be given to our students; we were shown prior so we were prepared to talk to our kids and answers questions, etc.  The presentations was about the rise in popularity of synthetic marijuana (sometimes called K2) and the presentation was HILARIOUS.  The school nurse had never written anything for kids, apparently, and did a horrible job.I kept my shit together until the PowerPoint slide said something along the lines of "Synthetic Marijuana can have 10x the amount of THC", and I just started laughing.  When my principal asked why, I had to tell him, "That's like an advertisement for the dealers... why would a kid buy weed when K2 has 10x the THC?  That's not going to scare a kid, that's going to get them to experiment with something new." The nurse wrote things that scared her, not realizing the kids wouldn't be scared at all.  These characters are written like I imagine that school nurse would write about addicts... I've never known an addict to call their drug of choice by its formal name, none of the drugs have a nickname (smack, dope, Mary Jane, etc) for common usage, none of the people in the story have an attachment to their dealer (or even a dealer, drugs just magically appear for most of the story)... maybe Kadrey has more or different experience with drugs or addicts, but nothing here felt relatable or believable.  Could be my fault.Too many things left unexplained, just dropped in my lap.  Ghosts are real, and the medium who can talk to the dead gets involved, but only on the periphery, and then disappears from the story.  A super rich warmonger sells his country for a girl.  Things like that, don't want to spoil anything.I LOVED parts of this story.  The way the Grand Dark plays a role, the Iron Dandies, the parallels with current American politics being introduced and discussed, so much went well, but I just can't like it.I recommended "Sandman Slim" to a friend who hated it... so Kadrey isn't for everyone.  His first series buttered my eggroll, this one may do it for you.**This ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Bakertyl
    January 1, 1970
    I've been a fan of Kadrey since stumbling on Sandman Slim back in 2013, and hating myself for missing such a great story for four years.  The beginning of this series was enticing, but it didn't meet my hopes and dreams.I loved the blurbs and summary of this story, but I just couldn't get excited or care about the characters.  The setting reminded me of a chintzy WWII story, with the "Herr"s and faux German names, but I can ignore that, that's just setting the scene... very Soviet/Nazi feeling, I've been a fan of Kadrey since stumbling on Sandman Slim back in 2013, and hating myself for missing such a great story for four years.  The beginning of this series was enticing, but it didn't meet my hopes and dreams.I loved the blurbs and summary of this story, but I just couldn't get excited or care about the characters.  The setting reminded me of a chintzy WWII story, with the "Herr"s and faux German names, but I can ignore that, that's just setting the scene... very Soviet/Nazi feeling, like the movie "Enemy at the Gates" if you ever saw that.While forgiving the scene-setting and world-building, I can't forgive the characters.  The main characters are drug addicts, and while I haven't known many addicts, I can believe these.Let me tell you a story:I'm a high-school teacher, among other things.  We teachers once sat through a presentation that was going to be given to our students; we were shown prior so we were prepared to talk to our kids and answers questions, etc.  The presentations was about the rise in popularity of synthetic marijuana (sometimes called K2) and the presentation was HILARIOUS.  The school nurse had never written anything for kids, apparently, and did a horrible job.I kept my shit together until the PowerPoint slide said something along the lines of "Synthetic Marijuana can have 10x the amount of THC", and I just started laughing.  When my principal asked why, I had to tell him, "That's like an advertisement for the dealers... why would a kid buy weed when K2 has 10x the THC?  That's not going to scare a kid, that's going to get them to experiment with something new."The nurse wrote things that scared her, not realizing the kids wouldn't be scared at all.These characters are written like I imagine that school nurse would write about addicts... I've never known an addict to call their drug of choice by its formal name, none of the drugs have a nickname (smack, dope, Mary Jane, etc) for common usage, none of the people in the story have an attachment to their dealer (or even a dealer, drugs just magically appear for most of the story)... maybe Kadrey has more or different experience with drugs or addicts, but nothing here felt relatable or believable.  Could be my fault.Too many things left unexplained, just dropped in my lap.  Ghosts are real, and the medium who can talk to the dead gets involved, but only on the periphery, and then disappears from the story.  A super rich warmonger sells his country for a girl.  Things like that, don't want to spoil anything.I LOVED parts of this story.  The way the Grand Dark plays a role, the Iron Dandies, the parallels with current American politics being introduced and discussed, so much went well, but I just can't like it.I recommended "Sandman Slim" to a friend who hated it... so Kadrey isn't for everyone.  His first series buttered my eggroll, this one may do it for you.**This ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Lilah Quinn
    January 1, 1970
    Like most of Kadrey's stand alone novels, The Grand Dark manages a tone so unique that it immediately differentiates itself from all previous one-offs, and leaves the reader with a sense of something brand new. That thought that sometimes arises in the early stages of reading a book where you find yourself thinking "I've never read anything quite like this before." The Grand Dark is at times melancholic and drowning in ennui, while soaring to ecstatic heights of wild abandon at others. And, as i Like most of Kadrey's stand alone novels, The Grand Dark manages a tone so unique that it immediately differentiates itself from all previous one-offs, and leaves the reader with a sense of something brand new. That thought that sometimes arises in the early stages of reading a book where you find yourself thinking "I've never read anything quite like this before." The Grand Dark is at times melancholic and drowning in ennui, while soaring to ecstatic heights of wild abandon at others. And, as is usual for Kadrey, the landscape of the story (in this case, a city) is described in such detail that it feels more like a character than a backdrop (see his descriptions of LA in the Sandman Slim series-- eventually it just seems a part of the cast). I admire his ability to intertwine the events of a characters life with the places they occur, almost as if they're dependent on one another, inextricably linked. Regardless of whether you love or hate this book, you'll likely agree that The Grand Dark could not have taken place in any other setting. The city feels alive, and crawls with just as much suppressed existential dread and chronic boredom as do the characters.As for plot, there's not much I can say that will adequately describe the heart and soul of the story. Essentially, this book follows Largo, a young man working as a bicycle courier in a city grappling with the aftermath of what is referred to as "The Great War". Never ambitious, Largo is content to spend his days trying to keep his boss happy, and his nights trying to do the same for his girlfriend, Remi, via the alcohol soaked, drug induced haze of a perpetual party that has most of the city in it's grip. But, as usual, Kadrey's character development is brilliantly subtle and we get to watch as Largo slowly realizes his world is not what he thought it was-- people don't always show you their true face, you can be used and not even realize it, and nasty things can happen to good people at any the time, even if you don't see it. It's fascinating and a little heartbreaking to watch him slowly shed his naivety. In some ways, it's a coming of age story, as well as a love story. Now just add in some dystopian future tech, hint at some pseudo-magic spiritualism, toss in biting social commentary and the gritty urban fantasy we've all come to expect from Kadrey, and you've got The Grand Dark.The narrator, Vikas, was really successful at bringing the story to life as well. Definitely not one of the ones that puts you in a coma mid-way through chapter one. Overall-- this was a killer read. Hauntingly beautiful, scary as hell, thought provoking, and full of an interesting blend of existential dread, languid hedonism, and genuine hope for a better future. Read it now. Thank me later.
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  • Jason S Wrench
    January 1, 1970
    As someone who is a fan of Richard Kadrey and has had read all of the Sandman Slim novels, I was excited that Kadrey was introducing a new world with his new book The Grad Dark.The Grand Dark takes its name from a theater known for its violent and rather bloody stage shows. The story itself centers on a young bicycle courier named Largo. Largo didn't grow up in the best parts of Lower Proszawa, but he has used his knowledge of all parts of the city to make himself very efficient. At the beginnin As someone who is a fan of Richard Kadrey and has had read all of the Sandman Slim novels, I was excited that Kadrey was introducing a new world with his new book The Grad Dark.The Grand Dark takes its name from a theater known for its violent and rather bloody stage shows. The story itself centers on a young bicycle courier named Largo. Largo didn't grow up in the best parts of Lower Proszawa, but he has used his knowledge of all parts of the city to make himself very efficient. At the beginning of the story, Largo receives a promotion to head courier after the previous one was arrested on sedition and going against the government. Largo is very proud of his promotion, but it doesn't take him long to realize that certain things about his promotion are not as good as they seem. In addition to the wonders of Largo's job, he's also involved with an actress named Remy, who works at The Grand Dark. Remy, like many characters in the book, may or may not be all that she seems. The world of Lower Proszawa is one ravaged by war. The vestiges of this war from the Dandy's, veterans who wear metal masks to cover up missing parts of their faces, to an economy that is just starting to pull itself out of the war years slump. In many ways, Kadrey's depiction of Lower Proszawa reminds me of the images of post-World War II. City blocks have been decimated, unexploded ordinances are a problem, and the world ravaged by the worst of the war, Upper Proszawa, can be seen on the horizon as a ghostland where plague bombs and other military weapons have demolished the world. Personally, it's in the depiction of this world that I think Kadrey's narrative truly soars. I also think Kadrey does a really interesting job of discussing the pros and cons of the modern military-industrial complex. In this world, He talks quite a lot about the importance of keeping the citizenry in their place and the use of propaganda as a tool of the government to keep citizens uninformed. One of the central figures of the establishment is Baron Rudolf Hellswarth, the head of Schöne Maschinen, the primary organization that does research and development on a range of military technologies. Hellswarth to some is an industrious old man who has saved Lower Proszawa, but others see him in a much more sinister light, known as The Beast.Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. Although a few plot twists were somewhat predictable. I wasn't quite sure where the story was going most of the book. I found it fast paced and easy to read, which is a hallmark of Kadrey's writing. My review is based on a pre-publication ebook provided me by the publisher.
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  • Annie
    January 1, 1970
    Originally published on my blog: Nonstop Reader. The Grand Dark is a new standalone novel from Richard Kadrey. Due out 11th June 2019 from Harper Voyager, it's 432 pages and will be available in hardback, ebook, and audio formats.I requested this eARC because of my familiarity with the author from his other work (especially the Sandman Slim series). This book quite impressively different. It's always interesting to see authors whose work one admires releasing different styles of work. It's a cr Originally published on my blog: Nonstop Reader. The Grand Dark is a new standalone novel from Richard Kadrey. Due out 11th June 2019 from Harper Voyager, it's 432 pages and will be available in hardback, ebook, and audio formats.I requested this eARC because of my familiarity with the author from his other work (especially the Sandman Slim series). This book quite impressively different. It's always interesting to see authors whose work one admires releasing different styles of work. It's a credit to Kadrey that this book is -so- different from his established characters and series. The entire style is different, it's a serious, philosophical, brooding book, with lightning flashes of real horror. The pacing is much slower and the dramatic tension simply builds and builds instead of building and releasing. In a lot of ways, technically, this is a much different exercise (and more challenging). There's no easy banter, very little snark. Other reviewers have said it has a Kafkaesque feel, and I would say that's apposite. I saw flashes of Lang's Metropolis in there as well, certainly intentional.In a lot of ways, this was an uncomfortable read for me. The pacing was very slow, almost ponderous, and the story arc felt as though it were grinding inevitably along (dragging me with it to a destination I wasn't at all sure I wanted to visit). There was no sarcastic banter. There was a lot of brooding atmosphere and sporadic violence. The world building and atmosphere were masterfully done; I really liked the inclusion of background information and setting through news items, diary entries, and notes/letters.Four stars. Beautifully written, divisive, uncomfortable, difficult, important.Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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