I rather like being Punkadiddled. It’s one of those genre privileges, up there with Thog’s Masterclass. The mighty Adam Roberts has reviewed City of Ruin [warning: contains spoilers], and has gone into some splendid detail. I love his thorough engagement with the text, even if it is not entirely complimentary; it’s reassuringly rigorous.
Now, this novel is better in many ways than the enjoyable though ragbaggy Nights: Newton is more in control of his voice here, more confident in what he’s doing. There’s some efficiently structured storytelling (maybe it takes a little too long getting-going; but once the main plots are in place it moves nicely along), with lots of gnarly, peculiar lifeforms and environments and some thumping set-pieces. I liked the Swiftian floating island especially. Still, the text is not wholly free of Teh Slapdash. I’d still describe Newton as a writer on his way somewhere interesting rather than someone who’s got there yet. Although, by the same token, he has a raw youthful energy that many more mature writers just can’t achieve, and he mixes his soursweet recipe of Fantasy, horror and noir nicely — uniquely, indeed. If you’re enjoying a bit of oral sex, the last thing you want is a vast, malign spider-creature crashing through your window and pouncing upon you. City of Ruin is that last thing you want.