A tale of the Unwithering

Given the number of new readers who may not be familiar with it, I thought its recent Dragon Award nomination for Best Science Fiction novel justified posting this recent Amazon review of John C. Wright’s Somewhither: A Tale of the Unwithering Realm. Congratulations, John, on your Dragon Award finalist!

Just finished rereading Somewhither, a grand tour through John C. Wright’s daunting and vivid imagination, wherein dwell creatures eldritch, fell and fantastic beyond anything any one, or even any small number taken together, of earth’s many mythologies ever dreamed. Plus all the worlds and trained warriors and assassins and spies and superheroes from a dozen cultures, comics and RPGs kicked up a notch or two by Wright’s deft muse, and all tossed into one epic blender of an adventure, of which this is only Part I.

Which is why I needed to read it twice. At least.

Illya Muromets is a odd teenage boy living in rural Oregon with his even odder family. Illya has grown very large and very ugly – heavy brow ridge, huge teeth. He looks nothing like his 2 brothers or his parents. His homeschooling includes rigorous physical and combat training, as well as Latin and Hebrew. He doesn’t see this as particularly weird, just sort of odd like everything about his life. His best friend is Foster Hidden, fellow Boy Scout and champion archer.

Dad takes ‘business trips’ that involve getting armed and armored to the teeth, which arms and armor include any number of holy relics and silver bullets, and and hiking up the hill to the ruins of an old monastery and disappearing for days on end. His mother went on one such trip, and never came back.

Illya gets a job doing grunt work at a nearby ‘museum’ for the mad and colorful Professor Dreadful, who has an inexplicably beautiful and brave daughter Penelope. Penny Dreadful tries to become the youngest person to sale around the world alone, but her yacht goes down and troubles beset her. She doesn’t get the record, but she survives and returns in time for Illya’s raging hormones to inflict the world’s worst crush on him.

Professor Dreadful gets locked up in the local nuthouse, to the surprise of few. He had been working to decipher a set of what might be cuneiform letters that appeared mysteriously on a wall at CERN after a fatal accident.

Illya gets a desperate message: Professor Dreadful has deciphered the cuneiform, which contained instruction on how to build a gateway between worlds in Ursprache, the one language spoken before the fall of the Tower of Babel.

He has constructed the gateway. He left it running in the museum basement….