The Kingdoms has a blurb which drew me in, even if some of the reviews might have thrown me out again. Thank you publishers and Netgalley for the chance of an ARC for this book. Although the formatting of the ARC made the reading doubly hard. I might just get a copy for a reread. The Kingdoms counts for my #spacetimereads as it’s time travel, but historical, not scifi.

The Kingdoms

The Kingdoms

by Natasha Pulley

For fans of The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle and David Mitchell, a genre bending, time twisting alternative history that asks whether it’s worth changing the past to save the future, even if it costs you everyone you’ve ever loved. 

Joe Tournier has a bad case of amnesia. His first memory is of stepping off a train in the nineteenth-century French colony of England. The only clue Joe has about his identity is a century-old postcard of a Scottish lighthouse that arrives in London the same month he does. Written in illegal English—instead of French—the postcard is signed only with the letter “M,” but Joe is certain whoever wrote it knows him far better than he currently knows himself, and he’s determined to find the writer. The search for M, though, will drive Joe from French-ruled London to rebel-owned Scotland and finally onto the battle ships of a lost empire’s Royal Navy. In the process, Joe will remake history, and himself. 

From bestselling author Natasha Pulley, The Kingdoms is an epic, wildly original novel that bends genre as easily as it twists time.[goodreads]

My Review

The Kingdoms starts with a mysterious person trying to find out who he is. Why is he wandering around in a French version of London? The clues come to him in mysterious ways. Despite the misgivings about leaving his family for three months in the dead of winter, he heads for a ruined, or at least abandoned, and possibly haunted lighthouse on the edge of the Scottish Islands.

I have other books by Natasha Pulley on my TBR, but this is the first of hers I’ve read. The parallel world-building is brilliantly detailed, creating a sense of place and history as clearcut as the fine glass of the aristos. The aristos may have gone, but the glass remains. The English aristos are still there, and running the navy. The pace is good, although I struggled to keep my place between the several shifts in timelines. Although there was always a sense of who was who, and where they were in their own unique history . I struggled with the poorly formatted ARC though. I wondered at 40% whether I really wanted to continue. Some of the reviews nearly put me off completely; the diversity aspects that some reviews lead on are really just part of life, not a part of the plot.

well and truly hooked

But something kept pulling me back. Was it the eeriness of the lighthouse which changes appearance and whispers? Or did the key to the time changes raise all sorts of possibilities in my brain? But having gone back, I was well and truly hooked and finished it in two more sessions. I found characters who are both appealing and not, simultaneously. I was pretty sure of the main identity theft issue at around 60%. Yet there are plenty of twists and loops near the end to keep you on your toes–and the characters too. It leaves you questioning what you believe to be true, of yourself, your friends and your loved ones. And in some ways, that can be very frightening.

One of the most enjoyable mystifying and baffling mind-bending books I’ve read. A handle on the Franco-English wars at the turn of the 19th Century helps, too. Thank you, Patrick O’Brian and Bernard Cornwell for the training!

Book Review | The Kingdoms by @Natasha_Pulley 'leaves you questioning what you believe to be true of yourself, and your loved ones. One of the most enjoyable mind-bending books I've read.' #TheKingdoms #timetravel #historical Share on X

Book Review | The Kingdoms by @Natasha_Pulley
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