Help me remember this book?
October 8, 2019 8:18 AM   Subscribe

I have vague memories of a book I read as a young teen, probably some time in the early 00s, but I can't find it on Google, going off of the few details I remember.

The book was a strange fantasy story, set in some kind of desert, Middle Eastern, or north African setting, maybe somewhere like Morroco? The protagonist spent quite a bit of time at a library or archive in this town, out in the middle of nowhere. There was also a weird b-plot about some strange jelly-creatures migrating across the desert?

I can't remember much of what the main plot was about, but I remember it being a slow, contemplative story which seemed to take place mostly at night (almost in a Blade Runner kind of way?) in this weird, desolate town out in the desert.

Given that I took this book out from the library as a young teen, it's likely this was either in the young-readers section, or otherwise deemed to be suitable for kids.
The last detail I recall is that I would have read this around the same time I read the His Dark Materials series, so I think I was on a weird-fiction-for-kiddos kick.

Anyone out there have any ideas what this could have been?
posted by shanek to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I was going to suggest Binti by Nnedi Okorafur as a long shot, but then I discovered that it only just came out in 2015. So definitely not that, even though it features an African setting and strange jelly-creatures.

(Well worth a read, btw, especially if you're interested in expanding your YA fantasy reads into more women/POC writers.)
posted by widdershins at 10:09 AM on October 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm wondering if it would be the Wess'Har series? They jelly creatures make me think of the Bezeri.
posted by obliquity of the ecliptic at 11:08 AM on October 8, 2019

I assume it's not Children of Dune, but there are similar elements, so just in case.
posted by willnot at 11:27 AM on October 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Children of Dune also popped to my mind. It could have ended up in a young adult section. It’s a not as wacko as God Emperor. Mostly teenagers plotting rebellion and running around at night trying to get over/under fences and subvert authority for the greater good. iirc.

There are sand worms out in the desert in huge numbers now because it’s like several hundred years after Dune. I think they may have changed or been going through some kind of larval phase because I recall there being more smaller worms as a general background rather than the few huge ones from Dune.
posted by affectionateborg at 1:25 PM on October 8, 2019

You may be thinking of Jan Mark's The Eclipse of the Century, an extremely weird book set mostly in an isolated town in an imaginary Central Asian country, largely at a museum (?) there, from the perspective of a British college student, and featuring strange jelly-like creatures. I think it was sold as young adult, and the timing should be about right.
posted by huimangm at 6:39 PM on October 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is a longshot but could it be "Alien Embassy" by Ian Watson?
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 8:23 PM on October 8, 2019

Oh wow, I think huimangm has cracked it! Thanks so much!
posted by shanek at 12:43 AM on October 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

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