February Books 7) Zoo City, by Lauren Beukes

This is the last of this year's shortlisted novels for the BSFA award for me to read. It's a remarkable story which picks up the urban fantasy sub-genre and takes it to a completely new place – specifically, Johannesburg, in a world very similar to ours except that in the last few years criminals have mysteriously acquired animal familiars similar to Philip Pullman's dæmons (Pullman is in fact referenced, with the suggestion that it's all his fault since the phenomenon only startedafter his books were published). The actual plot has our narrator, Zinzi December, involved with a missing persons enquiry because of her psychic location skills, which takes her deep into the criminal and somewhat necromantic underworld of South Africa; the environment is tremendously well realised, and the story and ideas mesh with total conviction. As I've said before, good on the BSFA selectorate for calling this one to my attention.

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