“Come home, if you remember. The postcard has been held at the sorting office for 91 years, waiting to be delivered to Joe Tournier. On the front is a lighthouse – Eilean Mor, in the Outer Hebrides. Joe has never left England, never even left London. He is a British slave, one of thousands throughout the French Empire. He has a job, a wife, a baby daughter. But he also has flashes of a life he cannot remember and of a world that never existed – a world where English is spoken in England and not French. And now he has a postcard of a lighthouse built just six months ago, that was first written nearly 100 years ago, by a stranger who seems to know him very well. Joe’s journey to unravel the truth will take him from French-occupied London to a remote Scottish island and back through time itself as he battles for his life – and for a very different future.” (Amazon)
Review of The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley
Natasha Pulley’s The Kingdoms has definitely joined my favourite fantasy books. It’s so atmospheric, engaging and heart-breaking, and I loved every bit of it.
In some ways, The Kingdoms is a retelling of several big conflicts and battles, but predominantly is a story of remembering, forgetting and also grieving. We meet Joe in the 19th century England occupied by the French, when he arrives at the station in London, with no recollection of who exactly he is. But he has flashes of life that doesn’t seem possible. I enjoyed the split narrative between the 19th and 18th century and getting to know both Joe and Kite in two timelines, their lives entangled, Joe’s life changing, not just once. In The Kingdoms, the future is a fragile thing.
The Kingdoms is, despite being set against the backdrop of war (in parts), it’s a quite slow read, especially initially. But it’s atmospheric and absolutely engaging from the start. Natasha Pulley’s vivid and rich descriptions are definitely something I enjoyed. I also liked how some of the characters, and especially Kite, are not necessarily good and honest people at all times, their actions often reprehensible. And yet, they are interesting, raw and real. I really enjoyed the diverse cast of Natasha Pulley’s novel, and it’s definitely an author I’ll be reading more from in the future.
While some aspects from the plot, the reader can figure out much earlier than the protagonist himself, we are still waiting for the answer on how those events come to pass, and the journey is both emotional and, in later chapters, fast-paced.
I will certainly be re-reading The Kingdoms in the future.
Who is the book for: I would recommend The Kingdoms to anyone looking for an original fantasy in a historical setting. You can get your copy here.