cover image The Kingdoms

The Kingdoms

Natasha Pulley. Bloomsbury, $27 (448p) ISBN 978-1-63557-608-5

Pulley’s latest genre-bending feat (after The Lost Future of Pepperharrow) masterfully combines history, speculative fiction, queer romance, and more into an unputdownable whole. In 1898, Joe Tournier finds himself in Londres­­—a city in the French Republic, which colonized England in the Napoleonic Wars—without any memory of his life before that moment. All he has are hazy images that come to him in dreams and an unshakable sense that something is wrong. And he’s not the only one: others in the city are feeling the same strange amnesia. When a postcard arrives for Joe bearing clues to his identity—mailed in 1805 but somehow depicting a recently built Scottish lighthouse—Joe resolves to find a way to reach that lighthouse and search for answers—but the mystery only grows more complicated from there, leading Joe down a rabbit hole that sends him from Scotland to Spain on a time-bending journey that spans more than a century. Pulley doesn’t shy away from the story’s sharp edges, exploring the devastating effects changes in the past can have on the future and shining a light on the ambiguous moral choices made by characters under duress. These dark, challenging moments are bolstered by the action-packed and intricate plot and leavened by the rich emotional entanglements of the makeshift family that Joe stumbles into along the way. This is a stunner. Agent: Jenny Savill, Andrew Nurnberg Assoc. (May)