"A nightmare vision that shows off VanderMeer's many virtues – his linking of characters and plot to the mythic core of his story, his idiosyncratic inventions which derive straight from the psyche, rather than from any generic inspiration, his ambitious style and his vivid descriptive powers. The denouement is as powerful as any I have read… (He) could well be creating one of the dominant literary forms of the 21st century."
- Michael Moorcock,
The Guardian Saturday Review.
"VanderMeer’s prose keeps you turning pages with a ghoulish grin of glee on your face… Its gangrenous, fetid imagery is so pungent that you can almost taste the funk of decomposition rising off the page. It’s a fairytale fever dream as dark as coagulated blood – and Jeff VanderMeer is a major talent to watch."
"Veniss Underground is frighteningly well-written and carries far more than would ever seem possible."
"Despite the distasteful and sometimes frankly horrifying visions… it is above all a marvellous trip into a future world, and certainly ensures that VanderMeer is an author to pay close attention to."
"A nightmare of spite, sadism and self-hatred. Veniss is one of those SF cities that haunt readers forever."
"This is a chilling and unsettling read… doubtlessly one of the most inventive and stylish writers to have emerged in recent years."
"A powerful novel…it triumphs both in its poetic, nightmarish imagery and in the authenticity of it’s emotions… The results of (VanderMeer’s) ongoing experiments are well worth seeking out."
"A strange, enigmatic and wonderful tale. Highly recommended."
"A work of baroque grotesquery that draws on classical and psychological archetypes to weave a tapestry of great imaginative power and immense descriptive impact…. connoisseurs of vintage literature should find this a veritable feast of fiction."
"An outstanding first novel brimming with startling ideas made unpleasant flesh by VanderMeer’s deliciously decadent prose."
"In his masterful first novel, VanderMeer sets a dark, phantasmagoric tale in and beneath a decadent, far-future city where Living Artists craft monstrous works of biological art and genetically enhanced meerkats plot to make humanity obsolete…a wonder-filled journey that echoes Dante's Divine Comedy, the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and the landscapes of Hieronymus Bosch, while also paying homage to the work of such genre masters as Cordwainer Smith and Edward Whittemore. VanderMeer's eye for just the right gruesome detail brings his nightmarish landscapes and bizarre, partially human creatures alive in astonishing profusion. Not for the faint of heart, the story packs a strong emotional wallop."
- Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Rife with more startling biomorphic inventions than a dozen iterations of Cordwainer Smith's "A Planet Named Shayol," this thrilling, poetic tale resonates most closely with Richard Calder's Malignos (2000) and is fully as affecting. Whether witnessing Shadrach dropping through levels of Hell with a parachute or trading insults with the severed head of an assassin 'meerkat,' you will have to prop up your dropped jaw more than once."
- Paul Di Filippo, Asimov's (forthcoming)
"Veniss Underground is a short, savage novel of glittering beauty, like a crystal knife found beneath one's fingernail upon waking one morning. At its bones a retelling of the hero's journey beneath the earth as in Orpheus or Dante, both of which are explicitly referenced, Veniss tackles core questions about love, art, and the survival of the species in voice and tone somewhere on the ill-defined boundary between fantasy and SF. The novel is presented in a three perspectives of increasing length, leading the reader by steady measures into a spasmodic hell resembling nothing so much as Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights. The language is glorious, the journey terrifying."
- Jay Lake, Talebones
"Jeff VanderMeer's mythic far-future novel Veniss Underground has the phantasmagoric palpability of a wrenchingly vivid dream. It pulls one along as a nightmare does, bestowing -- or inflicting -- a kaleidoscopic succession of horrific but awe-inducing images. These images, however, derive their power not solely from their imaginative detail, but also from their narrative influence on the flawed human characters who must contend with the mutating trials set before them in the multi-leveled city of Veniss. If other courageous purveyors of imaginative literature write 'like angels,' then Jeff VanderMeer writes like a pitch-perfect seraph."
- Michael Bishop
"Veniss Underground is a magnificently phantasmagoric account of an epic journey of discovery. It is rare to find such intense visual imagery combined with such a fast-paced and far-reaching narrative, and the alloy is as hectically exciting as it is luminously brilliant."
- Brian Stableford
"Jeff VanderMeer has a talent for getting under the skins of his creations, be they themes, places, puppets or people, and under the skins of his readers. A sensitive and sophisticated mind extremely rare in any tradition of literature. Simply one of the very best writers we have. Veniss Underground is an advance on most imaginative fiction in the same way that a sleek whale, diving into unlighted depths or surfacing with explosive joy, is an advance on a dish of fat dead worms. The backbone matters. A novel of cool and hot language and ideas. A marvel."
- Rhys Hughes
"A thriller with fish, a lightness of touch and flashes of imagery which are weird but always there for a reason, this descent into a genetic hell is like a darker DiFilippo. Vandermeer repatterns the bodies of his protagonists to match the monsters of Clive Barker. The most enjoyable biological apocalypse I¹ve been exposed to in a long time."
- Steve Aylett