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UnLunDun, by China Miéville (Books 2007, 14)

China Miéville turns to the young-adult novel, though without the slightest sense of avoiding the complexity, the density, of his other fiction. With the small exception, perhaps, that parts of it takes place in the London of today.

Most of it, though, happens in the titular UnLunDun, an alternative, parallel version of the city, accessible only to a few, by various unlikely means. It is populated by humans, by ghosts, and by all manner of strange creatures. It’s a stunning creation, and the teenage girls who are the heroes are wonderful. I’m kind of surprised not to have heard that a film is being made of this.

You’ll find out what happens to broken pieces of furniture left out by the side of the road. You thought that someone took it to use? You’re wrong. It found its way to UnLunDun; along with all the broken umbrellas (which become unbrellas).

And you’ll learn the truth about giraffes. Highly recommended.