If you're in the mood for something really different, try this marvelously inventive fantasy novel.
British author China Mieville (who has a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics) self-describes it as "basically a secondary world fantasy with Victorian era technology...so rather than being a feudal world, it's an early industrial capitalist world of a fairly grubby, police statey kind!"
First in a trio of novels, "Perdido Street Station" (c2000) is set in the city-state of New Crobuzon in the fictional world of Bas-Lag. The following two novels, "The Scar" (c2002) and "Iron Council" (c2004) explore different areas and races of Bas-Lag, so the novels don't have to be read in sequence.
To give you an idea of the type of creatures you will encounter, here is a list from a review by David Soyka from sfsite.com:
- moth-like creatures that combine the motifs of Japanese monster movies and vampire allegory;
- bio-engineered "Remades" upon whom are bizarrely grafted any number of animal and mechanical parts, sometimes to serve a particular function, such as bodyguards with "built-in" weaponry...; in other cases as punishment, such as the baby murdering mother who has her child's limbs attached to her face as a constant reminder of her sin;
- a giant spider with human hands obsessed with perfecting and protecting the interconnected web of existence that is utterly oblivious to the disastrous consequences its actions have on individual lives;
- a machine intelligence spontaneously emerging in a junkyard of Victorian-era "steampunk" technology spreading a virus of consciousness to other mechanical constructs;
- various co-existing species of ambulatory cacti, amphibious, parasitic, demonic, and ornithic creatures;
- a humanoid insect -- complete with wings, mandibles, and head scarab -- who communicates by hand signals to her human lover
"Perdido Street Station" has won numerous SF/Fantasy awards and has inspired a number of artists to attempt to recreate this complicated world on paper. Here are some of those images.