China Miéville is an extraordinarily inventive writer, but this is perhaps his most extraordinary book yet. He is one of the leading practitioners of the genre called the "New Weird," alternate places where different rules, physical, social, aesthetic, religious and moral obtain. He explores these fictional places with an unmatched delicacy and feel for the uncanny. In This Census-Taker, the narrator is one who has survived the story he's telling, and his voice bears the traces of what he's been through. He was a boy in an isolated mountain community, with a loving but slightly remote mother and an increasingly strange father. He witnesses some of his father's acts and becomes more and more afraid of him. What gives the father his strange power, and is this boy, who commands our entire sympathy, really right about what he sees? Is he in control of his own strange gifts? A quiet, spare and gorgeous tale that packs a retrospective wallop.
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