I'll keep this reasonably short, as this is a Novella, and not a full-size novel. Equoid is the latest offering in the Laundry Files universe by Charles Stross, and is nominated for the 2014 Hugo Award in the Novella category.
Stross is an award-winning Scottish SF writer, with this story being instalment 2.7 or 2.9 (depending on who does the numbering) in his geek/horror Laundry series. The series currently consists of 4 novels, with the 5th (The Rhesus Chart) out this summer, plus a number of short stories and Novellas.
He also has 4 more books coming out this year – there's a Hardback edition of this story, there's the paperback version of Neptune's Brood, the 2nd book in the Freyaverse (also nominated for a Hugo this year), plus two Merchant Princes books. Yes, he's a busy man, and I struggle to keep up with his output, as enjoyable as it is!
Anyway, Equoid is currently available as eBook through the usual channels, and it's available on the Tor.com website to read online for free and gratis. It also comes out, as indicated above, in July as a Deluxe Hardback edition from Subterranean Press. Take your picks – you need one (or potentially several) of those!
The Laundry is a Top Secret British agency which deals with what we dismissively think of and describe as magic and the supernatural. Except for magic being real, albeit more of a branch of applied mathematics. With the potential, if applied incorrectly, to release horrors from beyond and bring about the end of the world.
Anyone with a mathematical or a programming mind-set is a danger in this world, which is how Bob Howard (not his real name), a self-professed geek and the main protagonist/hero in the Laundry books, ended up in the service.
This time he is despatched by his boss to look into a call for assistance from a DEFRA vet/liaison officer in East Grimstead, Ruralshire. With a former top-secret dossier, now declassified to MILDLY EMBARRASSING NO TABLOIDS, concerning H.P. Lovecraft's first love and formative, er, sexual experience, and unicorns. Not the sparkly kind, either.
I leave you to go and read the rest, it's delightful, funny, and quite horrible. You will never look at unicorns the way you did before. Or horses for the matter.
Also, a word of warning, as some people did find this distressing – bad things happen to children who get too close to supernatural horrors. I mean, not just to children. But also.
You don't have to have read the other Laundry stories to appreciate this one, some neccessary background is filled in, and some other references will simply be 'as is' and unexplained instead of to something in another book which you've read and enjoyed. Then again, why not read and enjoy the whole lot? And vote for this at the Hugo awards, of course?
Author: Charles Stross
Series: Laundry Files
Series Number: 2.9
Reviewer URL: http://thierstein.net
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Review Date: 31 July 2014
Price: UKP 21.14
Format: Deluxe HB
Topic: Secret Agencies