David Mitchell's THE BONE CLOCKS. Really superb, and I think it sets a truly high bar for adult fantasy -- or quasi-science-fiction, however you want to categorize the book. For me, fantasy often runs into what I think of as the "arbitrariness problem" -- magical powers of arbitrary strength ("I can create Frozen Fire, because I have the Frozen Fire talent!") with arbitrary weaknesses ("But it doesn't work in the presence of cold iron or cotton/poly blends!"). Or the Cryptic Supernatural Communication problem: Protagonist receives momentous messages from Beyond, but the Beyond hasn't mastered the art of the declarative sentence and speaks only in portentous hints. (As in the movie INTERSTELLAR, where a posthuman culture of the future creates a five-dimensional replica of the past inside a black hole but neglects to tell its intended user what he's supposed to do with it.) BONE CLOCKS mostly dodges those problems, or at least skirts them. But the best thing about it is how rigorously the fantasy plot is tied into a really fine portrayal of real people living in the real world. I love that borderland between the real and the strange, the little clock of our lives and the big clock of the cosmos, and Mitchell walks that line as well as anybody in the business.
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