The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross
Ace Books, New York. 2004
Welcome to the Laundry, Britain’s answer to the Cthulhian things that go bump (or, more likely, squish) in the night. However, just because Bob Howard’s job involves saving our universe from unspeakable horrors, it does not mean that he can escape the bureaucratic paperclip audits. In The Atrocity Archives, Charles Stross combines urban fantasy and Lovecraftian horror into a suspenseful thriller where computers hold the power to open portals into other planes of existence.
Readers are treated with two stories in this excellent book. The Atrocity Archives follows Bob as he moves from desk jockey in the occult intelligence agency lovingly referred to as “the Laundry” to full-fledged possession-dodging, demon-hunting field agent. Not only must he save the world from Nazi necromancers, but he must also rescue the girl while making sure his manager receives proper notice for all unexpected leave before it happens.
In The Concrete Jungle, Bob is out again on field duty. This time investigating the case of Daisy, the cooked cow, with help of Inspector Josephine Sullivan. Somehow this case is tied to the top-secret Scorpion Stare and Bob and Josephine (Inspector Sullivan, if you please) must find out who is behind it before more innocents get slaughtered.
Personally I enjoyed the heck out of this book. The characters were interesting--hilarious in that droll British way--and portrayed a perfect balance of the mundane and the supernatural. Of course The Laundry would have a zombie security guard, how else could it be? I’ve never been one for spy novels so I have missed many of the comparisons made by other reviewers, but, after reading The Atrocity Archives, I might have to give them a go. I would recommend this book to just about anyone, especially fans of authors such as Neil Gaiman, Corry Doctorow, or Neal Stephenson, with the warning that some people have found the pacing to be a bit slow. This was not a problem I had at all, but I read through Stephenson going on about Captain Crunch for three pages and loved it.
If you enjoy The Atrocity Archives you can continue the adventures of Bob Howard in the other two books in the series; The Jennifer Morgue and, just released, The Fuller Memorandum.
What really has me excited is that while doing some research for this review I found out that Cubicle Seven (a British roleplaying company) is releasing an RPG based on the Laundry books in August of this year! Though I have never played any of their other games, I am so in love with this world that I will be pre-ordering a copy for us to try at game night.
When not writing for Pretty Gamer, shaking her booty or obsessing over her newest video game, Eep is a grad student in Library and Information Science. She is passionate about readers services, especially for young adults, and will be regularly reviewing books in preparation for her career. She gladly accepts requests for book recommendations based on reader interests.