I received a free copy of this ebook to review from NetGalley, on behalf of the publisher. This edition is expected to be released on 30 July 2013.
I’ve been a fan of Tim Powers for years, ever since I read Last Call and Declare. There’s no one else quite like him in fiction. His books are strange and original and fantastical. Reading them is an immersive experience where you have to learn what’s going on with a minimum of expository text; you learn everything from context. Dinner at Deviant’s Palace is not a new book. It was originally published back in the 1980s. But because it was set in a future, post-apocalyptic version of Los Angeles, it doesn’t feel dated at all. Even early in his career, Powers’ style is still well developed and masterly.
We meet our protagonist, Gregorio Rivas, as he’s performing a gig in a popular bar in Ellay (L.A.). He’s got a decent living, considering he’s living in a broken society with no advanced medicine or even the rudiments of transportation and electricity. A local bigwig offers him an obscene amount of money to go back to his former profession of redeemer, someone who kidnaps members of a widespread cut, deprograms them, and returns them to their families and friends. Rivas tries to turn the job down, because as a former member of this particular cult, he’s susceptible to their tactics. In other books he’s written, Powers introduces an element of something so far out of the ordinary that it could be called supernatural. In Dinner at Deviant’s Palace, it’s an alien with an unusual ability to not only feast on other sentient beings, but also to make its snacks love it.
Rivas does accept the job and what follows is a dementedly entertaining and nail-biting journey through the remains of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. There are animated trash monsters, hive minds, displaced souls, mutants, cultists, bicycle gangs, and an army from what remains of San Bernadino. This book blew my mind.