First: this book is a unique physical object, designed and packaged as an artifact worthy of putting into one's own "cabinet of curiosities". From the quirky, nearly glow-in-the-dark text on the jacketless casebound hardcover, through the 320 pages of text (fictional and ... harder to classify), art, and photographs, it's just a feast, a book lovers's book.
Second: while one certainly could simply sit and read through this book (more easily than one could do so with the previous Lambshead book!) I found it to be an absolutely wonderful book to "sip and savor". A story here, skipping forward to a more "factual" entry later, coming back, exploring the book at my leisure and mood and pace, as if exploring the book as a series of museum exhibits.
After a dry, "factual toned" introduction (a bit ponderously dry, perhaps! though accompanied with some stunning images) the book opens up and the going gets fun with Minister Faust's "The Electrical Neurheographiton". This starts off a 4-part "Holy Devices and Infernal Duds: The Broadmore Exhibits" section of the book. These are quasi-encylopedia entries, presenting the "factual" basis behind a few of the objects found in Lambshead's vast collection. Faust's entry takes us through a well-imagined Tesla artifact, combining leaps of imagination with historical details, and well-timed, guffaw-inducing humor. Faust's entry is one of the highlights of the book, showing off the surreal mix of history, detail, imagination, and self-indulgent, self-aware, literary playground humor which this book exudes when at its best.
The next section, "Honoring Lambshead: Stories Inspired by the Cabinet", presents short fiction from some of today's most brilliant fantasists: Carrie Vaughn, Garth Nix, Jeffrey Ford, Naomi Novik, Holly Black, and Tad Williams. All of the stories are excellent, and I would be too hard-pressed to pick a favorite. When I try, I only interrupt myself with, "But what about...?" It's even hard to break the tie based on the artwork, as several of the illustrations complement with and work so well to evoke the bizarre, strange stories presented. I will pick a couple of gems here: Yishan Li's depiction of Lord Dunsany's Teapot, from the forthcoming Novik-Li graphic novel "Ten Days to Glory: Demon Tea and Lord Dunsany." And the Vaughn and Ford stories are both wonderful.
The third section, "Microbial Alchemy and Demented Machinery: The Mignola Exhibits" collect short encyclopedia style documents around four iconic images from Mike Mignola. Again, it's hard to pick favorites from among these, but the combination of art and entry for Cherie Priest's "Addison Howell and the Clockroach" (which complete with lengthy endnotes documents a steampowered clockwork wagon which resembles, of course, a cockroach) and Lev Grossman's "Sir Ranulph Wykeham-Rackham, GBE, a.k.a. Roboticus the All-Knowing" (which documents the transformation of a wealthy young man returned from war with gruesome disfiguring wounds) stand as two more of the best in the book. This really is fairly ludicrous praise, as the section includes Michael Moorcock's "Shamalung (The Diminuitions)" (which brings Tesla back into the book) and China Mieville's "Pulvadmonitor: The Dust's Warning".
Next the book includes "The Mieville Anomalies" -- two short stories/entries accompanying small, inset art from Mieville. Here, "The Gallows-Horse" is particularly memorable art.
The two next sections of the book are quite meaty: "Further Oddities" and "Visits and Departures" present 14 more stories, from Michael Cisco (whose "The Thing in the Jar" is one of the highlights here), Amal El-Mohtar (ditto for her "The Singing Fish"), Stepan Chapman, Cailtlin R. Kiernan, Jay Lake, Charles Yu ("The Book of Categories"), and Alan Moore's "Objects Discovered in a Novel Under Construction". The "Visits and Departures" section inserts the authors (or "as told to" the authors) as actual visitors with Lambshead. N.K. Jemisin, Rachel Swirsky, Mur Lafferty ("1963: The Argument Against Louis Pasteur", in which filtering through a Klein bottle is argued as superior to pasteurization), Ekaterina Sedia, Brian Evenson, S.J. Chambers, and Gio Clairval ("The Pea", a poignant note on which to end the book) all have space for a short riff into this shared playground, balancing humor, erudition, and displays of lyrical strength.
Lastly is "A Brief Catalog of Other Items" which presents very, very short "micro entries" which compress this humor, history, and imagination into long paragraphs of image and creativity. The three dozen entries are quite entertaining, topped by Adam Mills's "Bear Gun".
Overall, this is a literary and artistic treasure, one I expect to pick up and turn to a favorite entry again and again over the years. It's one for the bookshelf, one to share as often as possible.