Weird steampunk horror—corpsepunk!—set in a pseudo-Victorian, otherworld city called Brine: a wretched labyrinth of impossibly tall, crooked spires and filthy waterways, maintained by its indentured undead citizens, and powered by the massive waterfall it precariously dangles over.
The story is a brutal, phantasmagorical murder mystery, meandering through the city's monster-infested nightmares, a stylistic cross between the Cthulhu Mythos and Sherlock Holmes, a disturbing visit from Frankenstein's monster to Alice's Wonderland, and... well, where should I begin?
YOU NEED NEVER DI
The doors to the Empire Museum closed decades ago, but in the ochre glow of the pyrebeetle lanterns, the exhibits still stare and occasionally move. Fueled by the sweat of the low-caste factory workers, the city of Brine hovers over the edge of a thousand, thousand millwheels fueled by the twice-daily cascade of tidal waters.
And in the museum, dead things begin to stir once more...
Pulled back into a world of intrigue and terror, can a retired investigator for the church unravel the terrible secrets of a very personal murder from his past? Even with the murderer back from the dead? Maybe if he can survive the horrors from the nightmarish Between long enough.
Welcome to Brine, an impossible and decaying city where death need not be the end—a place where steampunk and horror blend seamlessly. It's a dismal place for the average citizen, worked to death and then brought back to work some more. The carcasses of horses blankly pull the cabs of the wealthy. Dead workers lurch in the factories, fueling the ever-growing empire.
But it's tough at the top of the food chain, as well: church and state are in a perpetual shadow war. And now, with no more land to claim, the puppet queen has decreed expansion into the lands Between, and in her shadow, strange new horrors emerge to challenge it all.
Between. Just on the other side of the mirror lies this phantasmagorical land known only as Between, and it will tolerate the city’s intrusion no longer. This shadowy realm of nightmare and madness is ever present, and its inhabitants have their own agenda. Everything’s about to break.
"Crooked is a fascinating, vivid story set in a world filled with technologies based on the ability to preserve a creature or human past their death. It's beautifully well-thought out and rich with detail. I picked it up because it was described to me as "steampunk Lovecraft" and yes, that's somewhat accurate, but the book is so much meatier (sometimes literally) than Lovecraft's writing. There's a melange of points of view, all combining for a fractured kaleidoscopic glimpse of an absolutely intriguing world. Based on this, I'll pick up any Richard Pett book I run across."--Cat Rambo, author of Beasts of Tabat
"Richard Pett lives in a decaying mansion squatting on the crossroads between China Mieville, Charles Dickens, and Jim Butcher. In CROOKED, he wrote down all the terrible, bizarre, and brutally compelling things he saw in that horrible place, and the results are wild, clever, and unforgettable."--Robert Brockway, author of The Unnoticeables and RX: A Tale of Electronegativity
"Creepy, fascinating, seedy, secret-filled. Gripping characters and monsters, monsters, and more monsters! Not to be missed."--Ed Greenwood, creator of The Forgotten Realms
"If you're familiar with the work of Richard Pett, then you know that he's a master of the macabre and a painter of unearthly horrors. CROOKED is a stunningly cool book."--Colin McComb, author of Oathbreaker
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