I have really enjoyed other books by Natasha Pulley – she writes historical fiction with magical realism elements and often sweet but forbidden male homosexual love. This book ticked all those boxes, and I did enjoy it (on the whole) although at times I found it a bit of a slog if I’m honest.
The premise is that there is a wormhole off the coast of Scotland which, when sailed through a certain way makes you jump between around 1800 and 1900. When a ship from ‘the future’ stumbled into the middle of the Napoleonic war, it changed the course of history, causing France to win the war and England to be under French rule.
The main character finds himself in a London at the turn of the twentieth century where everyone speaks French and he has no memory of who he is, but has a sense of unease that things are not right. He follows clues and partial memories to a lighthouse off the coast of Scotland and is drawn into a confusing and alarming situation when he is pulled into the past.
A lot of the book takes place at sea, and there is war and fighting stuff which I found a bit boring. The mystery elements of ‘who knows more than they are letting on’ and ‘how is everybody connected’ are fun as well as the heart wrenching decisions people need to make knowing that everything they do in the past effects lots of stuff in ‘the future’ and saving the country could cost the lives of their loved ones.
By the end of the book, I was very invested and it was moving and satisfying how everything ultimately resolved.