Escape from Yokai Land – Charles Stross

“‘I’m sorry, Bob,’ says Dr Armstrong, ‘but they asked for you specifically because Hello Kitty is a Londoner.'”

Laundry Files main narrator, Bob Howard, is suspiciously absent during the events of The Nightmare Stacks (book 7 in the series) and in this novella we get to follow the side mission he was undertaking in Japan.

Yokai are apparently traditional magical beings, and one of Angleton’s (Bob’s predecessor) jobs was maintaining the wards that kept them under control. Now they’re growing more lively – and more annoying, in a dangerous kind of a way. Can Bob step up to the role – and will he survive the ultimate yokai: it’s huge, very pink, and likes to say “Hello”…!

I’ve been a huge fan of the Laundry Files since it kicked off with The Atrocity Archives, introducing us to a world of secret government agencies for weird sh…tuff, and magic in the form of computational demonology. Nerds of the world unite! 🙂

Bob is easily the best character, the series suffering a little when he’s absent, so it’s great to get his sardonic voice back at the helm. I’m less sure about the plot, with a westerner called in to solve another country’s problems feeling a bit ‘hmm’ – but then, Bob is now the Eater of Souls, I guess. And the cultural dislocation adds a certain element.

The novella format doesn’t allow for too much straying from the single plot path, which leads to a punchy, focused story. It does mean there’s little preamble or world building (shame!), so this really isn’t the place to start the story. However, for fans of the series it’s a nice dip back in, and it has left me wanting to go read the whole series again – slotting this one into the correct order would work very well!

escape from puroland coverNetGalley eARC: 96 pages
First published: 1st May 2022
Series: The Laundry Files book 7.5
Read from 26th-27th June 2021

My rating: 8/10

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