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The Kingdoms

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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for The Kingdoms

  1. 5 out of 5

    Blair

    When I came to the end of this book it felt like my heart had expanded or something. I’m not being hyperbolic, I had a genuine physical response to it. This happens occasionally, when I’ve read or watched something that really gets to me: this the-world-is-full-of-wonders sensation that feels more chemical than natural. It’s the difference, I think, between a response to technical excellence and a response to emotional excellence. The Kingdoms is the epitome of the latter. Because: this is how yo When I came to the end of this book it felt like my heart had expanded or something. I’m not being hyperbolic, I had a genuine physical response to it. This happens occasionally, when I’ve read or watched something that really gets to me: this the-world-is-full-of-wonders sensation that feels more chemical than natural. It’s the difference, I think, between a response to technical excellence and a response to emotional excellence. The Kingdoms is the epitome of the latter. Because: this is how you do it!! By ‘it’ I mean ‘an epic fantasy’ and ‘a love story’ and, also, just ‘a book’. This is what I wanted The Absolute Book to be. This is the most moving chapter of Cloud Atlas if it was 450 pages long. It’s like finding the best fanfic you’ve ever read, and you’re not even familiar with the fandom and don’t know who any of these people are, but you fall in love with it all the same because it’s just that good. This also means that reviewing it is hard. I realllllly want to get all CAN I HAVE A MOMENT OF YOUR TIME TO TALK ABOUT OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR MISSOURI KITE, but my enthusiastic love for that character isn’t something I think I can articulate. Or that it would mean much to anyone who hasn’t yet read the book, even if I did. The character development in this novel is something that has to be experienced; Pulley does this amazing thing of very gradually making you become obsessed with the protagonists, so that you don’t even notice it’s happening until, boom, sad songs are reminding you of them. At least, that’s how it worked for me. I haven’t even mentioned what the story is actually about yet (which I think speaks to how much my enjoyment of it was down to emotional connection, though that’s not to say the plot isn’t also great). It starts in 1898, as a man named Joe steps off a train and realises he has lost all his memories. He finds himself in a world that is unfamiliar – to him, naturally, but also to us, as this is an alternate history in which the UK is under French rule. The London skyline is dominated by massive steelworks, households still keep slaves, and Edinburgh is occupied by a terrorist group known as the Saints. Joe is eventually identified by his employer and reunited with his wife. But he doesn’t regain his memories, save for one: he recalls an image of a woman, along with the name Madeline. Although he can’t remember who she was to him, he can’t help but fixate on the idea of tracking her down. This mission becomes more urgent and complicated when he receives a postcard addressed to him and signed ‘M’ – a postcard that, he’s told, was sent 90 years ago. The world of the book is fantastically complex and very vivid. I was fascinated by it from the start. The interweaving of timelines is one of those things I can hardly think about because I can’t even imagine how difficult it must have been to map out how everything/everyone intersects. However, the thing that really makes The Kingdoms special is the central love story. When writing reviews, I often mention the fact that I generally don’t enjoy reading romance. Lots of novels have a romantic subplot squashed in where it doesn’t seem to belong; lots of books explicitly positioned as romance demand suspension of disbelief that I find impossible. But this is exactly how I want a love story to be done: slow, uncertain, tentative and filled with yearning. I became so invested in it that by the last few chapters I was crying over these people. I never want sequels to books but I want a sequel to this. I want a whole fan community to spring up around this. It’s sweeping and enthralling and has so much heart; I just adored it. Missouri Kite, though. I received an advance review copy of The Kingdoms from the publisher through NetGalley. TinyLetter | Linktree

  2. 5 out of 5

    Phrynne

    I finished this some hours ago now and I am still dazed. What a staggeringly tense, emotional, perfect ending. Natasha Pulley is definitely now up there with my very favourite authors. The Kingdoms begins in London in 1898 when Joe Tournier disembarks from a train apparently suffering from amnesia. This is London or Londres in an alternative history where the French won the Battle of Trafalgar and made slaves of the English population. This is exciting in itself for someone like me who loves a bi I finished this some hours ago now and I am still dazed. What a staggeringly tense, emotional, perfect ending. Natasha Pulley is definitely now up there with my very favourite authors. The Kingdoms begins in London in 1898 when Joe Tournier disembarks from a train apparently suffering from amnesia. This is London or Londres in an alternative history where the French won the Battle of Trafalgar and made slaves of the English population. This is exciting in itself for someone like me who loves a bit of alternate history, but then it jumps back another 100 years when Joe accidentally travels back in time. Even better - alternate history AND time slip - what more to ask for? Maybe many brilliantly written characters who step off the page and are memorable ever after. This is really Ms Pulley's forte. Remember Thaniel and Mori from The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and Merrick and Raphael from The Bedlam Stacks. Now we have Joe and Kite and a love affair which travels through time and survives even total separation. There is also a constant thread of mystery throughout the book. Who is Joe Tournier, why does Kite know so much about him, what is the mystery of the lighthouse and most importantly how did the French come to win that battle? Add to all this historical battles at sea, the sad affair of the giant tortoises, and constantly having to figure out how the time travellers are affecting futures. It is not a book one can speed read. And then that ending. Beautiful. One of those occasions where I closed the book, patted the cover and sighed contentedly. This is what reading is all about.

  3. 5 out of 5

    anna (½ of readsrainbow)

    rep: half-Chinese gay mc, half-Spanish gay mc, Black side characters tw: rape, murder, blood, violence, guns Review also on Reads Rainbow. ARC provided by the publisher. People generally agree that it’s harder to review books you’ve enjoyed; that it’s harder to find the words to describe all the ways in which you loved a book, than it is to explain why you hated it. This statement, for me, has never been more true than right now. I’ve read The Kingdoms six months ago, and I actually haven’t stopped rep: half-Chinese gay mc, half-Spanish gay mc, Black side characters tw: rape, murder, blood, violence, guns Review also on Reads Rainbow. ARC provided by the publisher. People generally agree that it’s harder to review books you’ve enjoyed; that it’s harder to find the words to describe all the ways in which you loved a book, than it is to explain why you hated it. This statement, for me, has never been more true than right now. I’ve read The Kingdoms six months ago, and I actually haven’t stopped thinking about it since. And yet, I still have no idea what to say about it. It’s one of those books that shattered my heart into pieces, but I’m staring at this mostly empty file & can’t string together two sentences to explain how. If you’ve ever read a book by Natasha Pulley, you probably already know that there’s this undercurrent of magic to her writing. And I don’t mean magic in a literal sense, although a lot of her books actually do have some magical elements to them. I mean the way she weaves her stories is magic. There’s always some big plot going on (and in most cases you could call it a mystery), but even then the books actually focus on the romance. Make no mistakes, though, Pulley does not write romance books: she writes books about love, which is to say the books only happen because the characters love each other so much. It’s visible in The Bedlam Stacks, it’s visible especially in The Lost Future of Pepperharrow, and it’s visible in The Kingdoms. The book follows a man named Joe who wakes up without his memories, without any idea who he is or where he is, or how he got there. It’s a weird type of amnesia, and we’re told it’s actually just a typical illness of his time and he has to live with it now. As one can imagine, basically the whole story is about Joe trying to find out his past, to learn who are the people that he loves. It’s a time travel book and it’s a mystery, and it’s literally about changing history. There are giant ships fighting, there are guns, there is so much violence & blood in that book. It could probably not be more eventful. And yet at its very core, The Kingdoms is about love. Joe finds this postcard that says “Come home, if you remember” and it might be one of the most beautiful quotes I will ever read in a book. Just this idea that love, and specifically gay love, can be stronger than literal laws of times and physics. That you can change the world in order to find the one man who’s your soulmate. That idea is frankly just groundbreaking. The thing about The Kingdoms – and this is actually true for all of Pulley’s books – is that despite everything that happens, it’s still a very slow book. Not in the sense that the pacing is bad, but just that Pulley understands the importance of why things happen, why the characters do & say the things they do. And it’s almost as if she somehow slows down the book to let you fully experience all those emotions. Like I said, it’s magic. I’m confident that this is actually the best of Pulley’s books. If you’ve read her previous ones, you can clearly see the development of her style, the improvement over the years. With all the time travel and all the shifting of timelines, the changing of facts & history, it’s such a rich and complicated story. But most importantly it makes you believe in love and soulmates.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Henk

    My standard reaction when David Mitchell is mentioned as a comparison to a book: add to tbr ✅ Plus I loved Watchmaker of Filigree Street 🕰

  5. 4 out of 5

    Katie Lumsden

    What a book! Clever, poignant, beautifully written, fun, surprising, fantastically plotted and just so thoroughly amazing. Absolutely one of my favourites of the year. Natasha Pulley does it again.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Esther

    I loved this one so much. I will post a review when I have recovered. **** Even after a couple of weeks I still have a bit of a ‘book-hangover’ - but here goes The story starts with Joe arriving at a train station in late Victorian London, except it is called Londres, everyone is speaking French and the fact that Joe is speaking English is treated with suspicion. For those familiar with fantasy tropes it is immediately obvious we have an alternative history… but this is so much more. Joe remembers h I loved this one so much. I will post a review when I have recovered. **** Even after a couple of weeks I still have a bit of a ‘book-hangover’ - but here goes The story starts with Joe arriving at a train station in late Victorian London, except it is called Londres, everyone is speaking French and the fact that Joe is speaking English is treated with suspicion. For those familiar with fantasy tropes it is immediately obvious we have an alternative history… but this is so much more. Joe remembers his name but nothing else from before arriving at the station. He is helped by a kind man and taken to an asylum where the doctors explain he is suffering from a relatively common form of epilepsy which causes amnesia. During his time in the asylum Joe has the opportunity to learn some basic facts about Londres and how he is expected to behave. After a few days a kindly French man answers the asylum’s advertisement and claims he is Joe’s master. Joe, like most English people in this French colony, is a slave. After a while, having settled into the routine of his life Joe receives a postcard sent nearly 100 years previously. Somehow the picture is of Eilean Mor lighthouse, even though it has only been built a few years, and the message reads “Dearest Joe, come home if you remember me. M”. Is M Madeline? A name that conjures a sense of déjà vu, a vague glimpse of his past surfacing from the depths of Joe’s lost memories. Despite Joe’s reluctance to leave his infant daughter he decides he must go to Eilean Mor. After Joe arrives at Eilean Mor the truth about what is happening is gradually revealed to the reader and Joe, although some of the people we encounter seem to know more than they are willing to say. I was enthralled by this story, by the fact that the characters are loving but complicated, that the women are strong and have agency. The author does not make any attempt to conceal or trivialize the devastating effect of trauma and I was heart-broken by the choices the characters were forced to make. The story drew me in so I wanted to read faster to find out what happened but also to read more slowly so it would never end. And in the middle of this whirl pool of emotions is Missouri Kite a man who so conflicted and damaged by life, fragile but also brutal, caring but withdrawn. He is a difficult man to love but in the end I did. This is a mystery, woven together with time-travel, a story of the violence of war and terrible decisions compelled by love and duty. But most of all it is about love. I will be reading this again and have already ordered books from this author’s back catalogue. Highly recommended. I received this book from Net Galley, in exchange for an honest review

  7. 4 out of 5

    charlotte,

    oh i want to reread it immediately oops read our full reviews on reads rainbow Rep: biracial (white, Chinese) gay mc with epilepsy, gay mc, Black side characters CWs: implied conversion therapy & rape, violence, gore oh i want to reread it immediately oops read our full reviews on reads rainbow Rep: biracial (white, Chinese) gay mc with epilepsy, gay mc, Black side characters CWs: implied conversion therapy & rape, violence, gore

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Base recipe for a Natasha Pulley cocktail: - 1 fish-out-of-water protagonist - 1 kind love interest - 1 cup loneliness. the type that stops you right on the verge of crying, so you're just left with a constant hum of wrongness and guilt - 1 cup silences that contain a universe of meanings - 2 tbsp witty witticisms ("It was good to know he did have a backbone, after two years of feeling pretty sure he was an invertebrate") Extra additions for The Kingdoms: - 1 sea captain with RBF who holds romanc Base recipe for a Natasha Pulley cocktail: - 1 fish-out-of-water protagonist - 1 kind love interest - 1 cup loneliness. the type that stops you right on the verge of crying, so you're just left with a constant hum of wrongness and guilt - 1 cup silences that contain a universe of meanings - 2 tbsp witty witticisms ("It was good to know he did have a backbone, after two years of feeling pretty sure he was an invertebrate") Extra additions for The Kingdoms: - 1 sea captain with RBF who holds romance novels in one hand and shoots people with the other - 1 beautiful amnesiac with a penchant for sass - 4 tortoises doing charmingly untortoise-like things (e.g. sharing blankets, playing with cricket balls) - 1/2 tsp enemies to lovers (kind of) - 2 tbsp grim war imagery - 4 tbsp traumas that shape your entire life Mix them all up in a giant pot, take a sip (c'mon, straight from the ladle) and you'll hear a voice whispering in a crisp British accent: "Time is, and always will be, really fucking gay." I'll spruce this up to a more sensible review later, but the bottom line is that The Kingdoms is a quiet-yet-not-quiet epic wonder of a story that made me feel like I was soaring by the end. And I'm having trouble cobbling together words to explain why. Maybe it's the scale of it all--how much was at stake and how much had already been sacrificed, and the fact that it was darker than I'd expected. Maybe it's because I'm a sucker for stories set on ships. Maybe it's the characters, because Pulley never fails to write beautifully relatable, hopeless, firecracker main characters. Maybe it's seeing love that defies and defies and defies. Maybe it's the lost, broken things that are eventually found by the sea and carried to a new home. Just... There is such a satisfying completeness to it all that makes me want to pump my fists and sob into my sleeves at the same time. Natasha Pulley calls this her best work to date. Natasha Pulley is damn right. ~~ Review copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss. All opinions are my own.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gen

    Frankly, what the HELL just happened? Things this book is: • A history-based time travel adventure/romance, taking place in Great Britain around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. • Kind of slow. Much more heavy on the reflective, atmospheric and emotional side than the adventure one, though there is plenty of seafaring gore. • Gay. • Not super surprising. As soon as you get the first reluctant crumb of background about The Kingdom from Kite and the first flashback, you know the MC's previous Frankly, what the HELL just happened? Things this book is: • A history-based time travel adventure/romance, taking place in Great Britain around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. • Kind of slow. Much more heavy on the reflective, atmospheric and emotional side than the adventure one, though there is plenty of seafaring gore. • Gay. • Not super surprising. As soon as you get the first reluctant crumb of background about The Kingdom from Kite and the first flashback, you know the MC's previous identity and pretty much what's going on. Then it's just waiting half the book for him to catch up with everyone else. • Leaving me WILDLY emotionally conflicted. Was the ending happy? Are we happy about this? Do we like both of the MCs? Like, I see it, but having some qualms about (view spoiler)[Kite's murdering a young boy just to protect the secret of his own love from Joe and the general faff about him murdering a decent amount of other people and not being fully stable seems justified if Joe is going to raise two toddlers with him. Also, Joe literally was married three different times and had two other sets of children, which is giving me pause. (hide spoiler)] • And then there's every other relationship that happened in the book, most of which are at least mildly disturbing in some way. Is this okay? Are we all okay with this? I'm going to need a memo written to explain the emotions I should be having, because I'm pretty sure the confusion and discomfort I have going on are not what the author intended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    I'll caveat my lukewarm review (2.5 stars rounded up to 3) by acknowledging that it's probably not Natasha Pulley's fault, it's all me. In theory, I should really like her books! Dear friends of mine with overlapping taste adore them. Her books are fantastical, involve rich descriptions and scenery and glorious tangles of language, often set in historical periods and I truly love a good historical fiction fantasy; I mean I reread Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell at least once a year! And yet, I bri I'll caveat my lukewarm review (2.5 stars rounded up to 3) by acknowledging that it's probably not Natasha Pulley's fault, it's all me. In theory, I should really like her books! Dear friends of mine with overlapping taste adore them. Her books are fantastical, involve rich descriptions and scenery and glorious tangles of language, often set in historical periods and I truly love a good historical fiction fantasy; I mean I reread Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell at least once a year! And yet, I briefly started The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and was quickly unimpressed and stopped, I made it just a bit further with The Bedlam Stacks but could not connect. The Kingdoms is therefore the first Natasha Pulley fiction I've ever finished, and I've come to the clear conclusion that it's not meant to be for me and this author. The Kingdoms has a great premise - a portal between past and present in the nineteenth century, a so-diagnosed amnesiac man trying to put together the pieces of his life, the Napoleonic wars between Britain and France as the backdrop, the stakes being freedom and true love of course. But I found it to be somewhat of a mess to read: sometimes it seemed as though sentences were missing, we'd move along from idea to idea and scene to scene without any fluid transition or connection with what came before. The big twists that covered Joe's identity I saw coming very early on so there was little that surprised me throughout. Characters die very abruptly and other characters barely seem to react to their passing, which could make sense given the war context of the plot but it reads awkwardly and unfinished, the reader is just buffeted along to the next scene. I wonder if Pulley was trying so hard to maintain the mystery and not tip her hand too early that she swung a bit too far in the secrecy and instead made scene connections sparse and thus made the plot more convoluted than it needed to be. And perhaps because of this weird plot convolution and lack of significant connectivity from scene to scene, I never much cared for any of the lead characters, nor the love story across time that again was hinted at but left so much until the end I suppose to maintain the mystery and give readers small breadcrumbs to follow and piece together. If that was what was intended, for me it left the characters emotionally removed from me as the reader, and I grew to feel neutrally toward them to ambivalent dislike. (A particular moment was quite jarring and made me feel less invested in the big reveal I'd already guessed.) At any rate, I could have easily rounded this down to two stars, but I did think the prose was good (even if I prefer other wordsmith type authors and don't rate Pulley that highly) and I did enjoy many of the descriptions of settings. I would have loved more of the alternate England and Scotland and more immersion into places, as that also might have helped draw me into the book more. So I'm landing on a lukewarm "I liked rating": I would recommend this to those who have previously enjoyed Pulley's books, and for fans of historical fiction fantasy that are willing to wrestle with some interesting ideas and messy execution. But this shall be my last time reading Pulley, alas she's simply not for me.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    I'm just supposed to distill all these gigantic emotions into some kind of review, huh? I've very rarely met books that were written specifically for me--there are a handful, yes, and I will be very glad to have this book join their ranks. This book is not for everyone. It's...complicated and horrible and aching, it's full of sharp edges and burn scars and murder, it's about history and love and what those two concepts do to people. It's about ships. And telegraphs. Lighthouses and time travel. I'm just supposed to distill all these gigantic emotions into some kind of review, huh? I've very rarely met books that were written specifically for me--there are a handful, yes, and I will be very glad to have this book join their ranks. This book is not for everyone. It's...complicated and horrible and aching, it's full of sharp edges and burn scars and murder, it's about history and love and what those two concepts do to people. It's about ships. And telegraphs. Lighthouses and time travel. Tortoises. Abuse and the decisions that lead to it. There are a lot of reasons why people will not like this book. But, oh, oh, this book was written for me. Elegiac, liminal, fragile, aching. This book hurts but in such a good way. A spooling, non-linear narrative, that should be tangled and unparseable, but is instead clever and slowly unwinding until you understand the heart. Characters who are brittle and fragile as glass, complex and unthinkingly brave. Time travel with consequences, messy and completely probable alternate history, a slow-burn of a romance that is absolutely devastating and somehow perfect. This book is not for everyone. But this book is for me. And I sincerely thank the author for giving it to me.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of The Kingdoms. The premise sounded so intriguing so I was excited when my request was approved. ** Minor spoilers ** Sadly, it failed to capture my interest for a number of reasons: 1. The world building was good, but not enough exposition was given, the framework was loose and readers had to guess about the political and societal climate Joe woke up in. 2. The writing was good, but wordy, tedious, and many times the narrative dragged. 3. I didn't connect with Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of The Kingdoms. The premise sounded so intriguing so I was excited when my request was approved. ** Minor spoilers ** Sadly, it failed to capture my interest for a number of reasons: 1. The world building was good, but not enough exposition was given, the framework was loose and readers had to guess about the political and societal climate Joe woke up in. 2. The writing was good, but wordy, tedious, and many times the narrative dragged. 3. I didn't connect with any of the characters, maybe except for Agatha, but didn't sympathize or cared about anyone. 4. I'm not sure if this was due to the fact that I'm reading an ARC, but most of the sentences do not start with a capital letter. I hope this isn't a stylistic choice meant to be artsy because it's not. It's distracting and irritating, like when a gnat keeps flitting around your head. 5. Worst of all, I found the themes of sailing, war, politics and sea battles immensely boring. These topics have never been of interest to me. All I wanted to read about was the time slip and it was barely about that and mostly about war and battle. This was SOOO not for me, but I think readers who like a little political intrigue, war battles and sailing would enjoy this.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    Pulley has crafted a bewitching time-travel saga that, surprisingly, focuses on the aftereffects of traveling through time — intentionally or not. The Kingdoms begins in 1898 with Joe Tournier clearly experiencing some kind of episode after arriving via train to the station. Everything he encounters seems to fight with his memory of what he knows, which seems to be a shifting argument in his head. A man from the train helps him to the hospital where he is told many have experienced this phenomena Pulley has crafted a bewitching time-travel saga that, surprisingly, focuses on the aftereffects of traveling through time — intentionally or not. The Kingdoms begins in 1898 with Joe Tournier clearly experiencing some kind of episode after arriving via train to the station. Everything he encounters seems to fight with his memory of what he knows, which seems to be a shifting argument in his head. A man from the train helps him to the hospital where he is told many have experienced this phenomena they are dubbing epileptic amnesia. Joe spends some time in the hospital until he is claimed by a woman who says she's his wife and a man who says he is Joe's master — as it turns out that Joe is an enslaved man. Despite having strong inclinations to the contrary, Joe tries to assimilate to life in a French-occupied London, now called Londres. For two more years, Joe struggles to fight these epileptic episodes that bring up strange hallucinations, as he also works hard to be a good husband and then father. And everywhere he goes he carries with him a postcard that arrived in 1899 from having been held at the post office for ninety-one years, but which is addressed to him. On the front features the newly constructed lighthouse on Eilean Mòr in the Outer Hebrides. And the back has only a brief message: Come home, if you remember. Both the message and the lighthouse pull at his mind constantly. Joe was born into slavery, as so many British were throughout the French Empire, and after earning his freed status, he gets a job working for the very firm that constructed the lighthouse on Eilean Mòr. When the opportunity comes for Joe to travel to the lighthouse, he jumps at the chance and travels to the remote Scottish island. What's wonderful from the beginning is the otherworldly quality to Pulley's novel — like the same undercurrent as a ghost story. She manages to create such atmosphere of distance and the allure of the foggy-unknown that I was mesmerized by her writing and drawn into this clashing world. Joe's story is filled with complicated emotions — even aside from his inability to reconcile where and when he is — and no part of the narrative's explanation is clean or simple. The story itself is really straightforward for a time-travel book, but the brilliant human study within is just so utterly reflective of living, breathing humans that it is achingly painful at times. Now the inevitable add of Pulley's previous book, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, as this is my first by her, but not my last. I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This affected neither my opinion of the book, nor the content of my review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Brigi

    "I've missed you even when I didn't remember you." If you've been here for a hot minute, you probably know I adore Natasha Pulley's writing. She's carved a niche in the literary scene with her soft gay magical realist novels that are somehow exactly to my taste. Now, I'm not going to lie, in the middle of this book I thought this just might not get 5 stars from me, because there was just so much hurt, and I didn't see how this could end in anything but devastation and heartache. But she did it! N "I've missed you even when I didn't remember you." If you've been here for a hot minute, you probably know I adore Natasha Pulley's writing. She's carved a niche in the literary scene with her soft gay magical realist novels that are somehow exactly to my taste. Now, I'm not going to lie, in the middle of this book I thought this just might not get 5 stars from me, because there was just so much hurt, and I didn't see how this could end in anything but devastation and heartache. But she did it! Natasha Pulley, you absolute genius!!! It's definitely her most epic novel, the ideas are so complex, and the characters? Wow. Joe is a sweetheart, but I was so unsure about Kite - he was so rough and unpredictable in places, and I hated him for keeping things from Joe. But the last part, called Home... I cried the whole 40 pages, first from relief, then surprise, anger, shock, terror, worry, and then hope and absolute, infinite love. I was swept away. You know how Natasha Pulley's romances are usually so lowkey, and it was true for this, it was mostly pining, but then the last pages, when you realise what exactly happened, and what the characters did, just so they could see each other again... Magnifique. Honestly, I'm the shell of a person at the moment, and all I want to do is to reread it. It's just so.... *clenches fist and wipes a tear* good. Rep: half-Chinese mlm main character, half-Spanish mlm main character, side black characters

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kahlia

    Natasha Pulley has a type: tender, lonely characters who find themselves (often literally) caught of out place and time. Sometimes her books have worked for me, sometimes they haven’t, but: The Kingdoms really, really did. This is, in my opinion, Pulley’s best book yet. It’s hard to explain The Kingdoms without spoilers, so suffice it to say that the blurb tells you most of what you need to know going in, except one thing: I love Napoleanic War stuff, and this is Napoleanic War fiction (though no Natasha Pulley has a type: tender, lonely characters who find themselves (often literally) caught of out place and time. Sometimes her books have worked for me, sometimes they haven’t, but: The Kingdoms really, really did. This is, in my opinion, Pulley’s best book yet. It’s hard to explain The Kingdoms without spoilers, so suffice it to say that the blurb tells you most of what you need to know going in, except one thing: I love Napoleanic War stuff, and this is Napoleanic War fiction (though not always the version we know from history), which was an added bonus and would have prompted me to pick up this book even faster had I known. I should also note that this is a real genre-bender; it’s obviously science-fiction/alternate history, but we also get a taste of the gothic when Joe spends some time at an eerie lighthouse in the middle of a wild and stormy sea, and some sections read like straight up historical fiction with no shenanigans in sight. The time travel element is confusing in the beginning, but is ultimately well explained throughout the book, and while it’s clear early on who Joe Tournier really is and why he’s found himself stuck in this time loop, watching him figure it out for himself is a rewarding journey in its own right. The best thing about this book is the characters. Like I said, Pulley has a type, but it’s hard not to root for Joe and Kite, who are both an enigmatic mix of hopeful and hopeless, both so desperate to love and be loved in return, and who are very clearly moulded for better or for worse by all the weird and wonderful things happening around them. Joe in particular remains a very strong sense of self despite the amnesia and lack of certainty about his true identity, which made his story all the more heartbreaking at points. The prose, too, is excellent: incredibly atmospheric, but with the occasional pithy aside where it’s impossible to do anything but grin. Pulley always does a fantastic job at describing the non-things: the long silences, the words that her characters don’t speak, and this book is no exception. I do have a few small quibbles about the endings for some side characters which weren’t as satisfying as I would have liked, and I would have appreciated a little more reflection on some of the love interest’s actions during the book, but otherwise I was so incredibly engrossed in this story from start to finish. Now, if Pulley would like to drop a few hints about her other (!) book coming out this year, that would be great. Note: I received an ARC from Bloomsbury. The Kingdoms will be released on 25 May 2021. This review is also available

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    The Kingdoms is a genre-bending, time-twisting alternative history fantasy that asks whether it's worth changing the past to save the future, even if it costs you everyone you've ever loved set at both the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. It's 1898 and Joe Tournier has a bad case of amnesia; he appears to remember his name but nothing else of value. His first memory is of stepping off a train in Londres in the nineteenth-century French colony of England having travelled there from Glasgow. H The Kingdoms is a genre-bending, time-twisting alternative history fantasy that asks whether it's worth changing the past to save the future, even if it costs you everyone you've ever loved set at both the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. It's 1898 and Joe Tournier has a bad case of amnesia; he appears to remember his name but nothing else of value. His first memory is of stepping off a train in Londres in the nineteenth-century French colony of England having travelled there from Glasgow. He learns that the former British capital has been a colony of the French Republic ever since they won the Napoleonic Wars ninety years ago. He doesn't recognise his surroundings and can remember nothing about his life before the moment he is presently in. A doctor diagnoses him with ”silent epilepsy” a disease characterised by paramnesia, amnesia and visions. Paramnesia is described as ”the blurring of something imaginary and something real”, but Joe isn't the only one in the city with the same strange afflictions. Despite the illness, Joe is soon returned to his French master—most English citizens have been enslaved under the reign of Napoleon IV—and to his wife, Alice, none of whom he remembers; in fact, Joe believes his wife to be called Madeline and has visions of her being a completely different person from the reality. Then one day a clue to Joe’s identity arrives in the post about a month after he arrives in Londres; a postcard mailed a century ago in 1805 and featuring the image of a Scottish lighthouse in the Outer Hebrides. But this lighthouse has only recently been built so how is that possible? And why has it taken so long for the mail to reach its final destination? 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 and get answers about his identity and past in the process. The search for M, though, will drive Joe from French-ruled London to rebel-owned Scotland where north of Glasgow he travels through a time portal that transports him back to the era of the (Napoleonic) War and victory could be anyones. At the lighthouse, he meets Missouri Kite, a Royal Navy officer from 1807 who’s manning the lost empire’s battleships and his sister and the ship’s surgeon, Agatha Castlereagh, who hope to use technology and information from the future to change the outcome of the war. Can Joe help the British to win against the French and change the course of history? This is a compelling, utterly captivating and richly atmospheric novel combining steampunk, speculative fiction, queer romance and history in a highly original tale. Peopled with a small but complex, beautifully multi-layered cast of characters, we journey with Joe as he attempts to alter history whilst maintaining his connection to his young daughter who is still in the 1900s. Not only does it span a century but it also crosses Europe and has a compušlsive and thoroughly enthralling mystery at its heart. It's cleverly woven, emotionally raw and fraught with tension with a palpable level of suspense and this never dissipates. It's action-packed, rich in detail and concerns itself primarily with the ephemerality of both memory and love. Pulley’s finest work to date. Highly recommended.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chaitanya Srivastava

    I couldn’t read this book after 65 pages. I JUST COULDN’T!! The problem with this book is - THE WRITING. I am not familiar with this author at all and this was my first book of Pulley and probably the last. I can rightfully say that this book reminded me so much of a time when I used to be very apprehensive of picking up historical fiction. This is not only historical but has a weird time travel (?) in it which reads off as a mystery/suspense and kind of tries to be too many things at once but ju I couldn’t read this book after 65 pages. I JUST COULDN’T!! The problem with this book is - THE WRITING. I am not familiar with this author at all and this was my first book of Pulley and probably the last. I can rightfully say that this book reminded me so much of a time when I used to be very apprehensive of picking up historical fiction. This is not only historical but has a weird time travel (?) in it which reads off as a mystery/suspense and kind of tries to be too many things at once but just doesn’t happen to spend enough time setting up anything properly?! I am an out-and-out romance/contemporary reader and I picked this up because 1. I have been trying to diversify 2. I have started to appreciate historical fiction a little more than I used to and 3. It supposedly had a queer lead character. But, The Kingdoms gave me none of what I had hoped to find in the story. In fact, I am not even sure if I understand anything at all that went around. I don’t know if I am dumb or if the writing is just awfully confusing and kept sort of vague to not make much sense but I honestly can’t do with that. I tried, and I kept hoping it would pick up, but it didn’t. I know a lot of authors who have a style of writing where they keep the beginning purposefully a little ambiguous but then end it with a bang, however I am not a fan of such books/writers in general. If you cannot hold my interest and lure me into the story in the first 50-100 pages depending on the length the of the book, then I am sorry, I won’t stick around to see what you’re trying to achieve by the end of it. It’s that’s simple. Joe, who is the lead, was impossible to follow without feeling very disconnected from him. And no it wasn’t because of the fact that he has some sort of amnesia but simply because the writing was very weird in the sense that even after reading 65 pages, there was absolutely nothing that kept me interested in the book. I cannot say anything about the queer representation here because nothing happened until the place where I read, and even if what is there in the book is amazing, I don’t think I can quite sit well with this book and continue to read it because 1. I HAVE VERY LITTLE UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT'S HAPPENING and 2. I DON'T ENJOY BOOKS LIKE THESE. This book may be amazing for those of you who read and or like mysteries and such sort of stories, but this ain’t for me, AT ALL. Thank you Bloomsbury India for sending across an early proof copy.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    Dearest Joe - Come home, if you remember. Natasha Pulley’s novels have a distinctive quality to them. There are, of course, many novels out there which contain painstakingly researched historical details (though perhaps not from such a wide range of highly specific niches); many novels which delve into the complexities of physics, engineering, and other branches of the sciences (though it is a bit rarer for such themes to pop up in novels where they aren’t the main focus); many novels which featu Dearest Joe - Come home, if you remember. Natasha Pulley’s novels have a distinctive quality to them. There are, of course, many novels out there which contain painstakingly researched historical details (though perhaps not from such a wide range of highly specific niches); many novels which delve into the complexities of physics, engineering, and other branches of the sciences (though it is a bit rarer for such themes to pop up in novels where they aren’t the main focus); many novels which feature elements of fantasy (though perhaps not blended so deftly into the fabric of reality that it’s difficult to say where the line between them lies); many novels which crackle with dry wit; many novels in which the romance is the beating heart of the entire tale. However, I’d be hard-pressed to name a single other author out there whose signature narrative style features each and every one of those elements - it’s a potent mixture, and makes for a riveting tale every time. In The Kingdoms, the themes of time and possibility feature even more prominently than they have in Pulley’s past novels. Our protagonist, Joe Tournier, finds himself whisked back in time from his life in the early 1900s, and quickly realises that every action he takes during his time in the past - as a time traveller who should not be there - has the potential to utterly unravel the events of history as he knows it. However, it also becomes readily apparent that this is not his first trip into the past; as an amnesiac who remembers barely any of his life thus far, and who has flashes of false memories that should by all rights be impossible, he soon comes to the inevitable conclusion that he has already made at least one journey into the past, during which the course of history has already been drastically altered, leading to the complete loss of all those memories of the life he ought to have lived in the version of history that no longer exists. From that point on, the question becomes: which version of history does he want to fight for, which future does he want to strive towards, and whose presence in his life would make that future worth living in? In some ways this novel reminded me of Pulley’s previous novel The Bedlam Stacks - in both stories, the reader’s awareness of the fact that they’re reading a fantasy novel allows them to put together several of the author’s clues long before the protagonist manages to arrive at the same conclusions, which leads to a very interesting dynamic of the protagonist constantly wondering What has happened, while the reader is instead asking How this has happened. In this book, the latter question isn’t fully answered until the last few chapters of the novel, which unfold with breathtaking pace, and yet are some of the most emotional and heartfelt of the entire novel - completely unputdownable. The vividly-drawn atmosphere also deserves a mention - each of the novel’s many settings really comes to life with dazzling authenticity - but the push and pull of the novel’s central relationship is definitely its most compelling element. It’s a much more fraught romance than any of Pulley’s others, in a tale which is certainly darker and angstier as a whole, but the yearning and tenderness which somehow permeate the entire story nonetheless are a balm for the soul. And just to finish off - knowing that this book was partially inspired by my number one all-time favourite tv show, and being able to spot all the little nods to it throughout, was absolutely overwhelming in the best possible way. Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC!

  19. 5 out of 5

    talia ♡

    read this if you love Sense8, Cloud Atlas, pirate ships, or if you believe that love can transcend time and space. ---------- considering how i have a devotion and adoration for lighthouses, historical fiction, and Natasha Pulley novels, i have a feeling i'm going to devour this one. also! it's an overcast day so i can read on my balcony that overlooks the coast! how fitting. read this if you love Sense8, Cloud Atlas, pirate ships, or if you believe that love can transcend time and space. ---------- considering how i have a devotion and adoration for lighthouses, historical fiction, and Natasha Pulley novels, i have a feeling i'm going to devour this one. also! it's an overcast day so i can read on my balcony that overlooks the coast! how fitting.

  20. 4 out of 5

    vanessa ♋️

    Very nice story, although when I started reading it I thought there way a bit too many of the same thems as in her previous books, which I do like but if it's always the same it gets a bit boring. Still, it was a great and interesting story, very hopeful and beautifully written. Some parts at the end (mainly the children part) was a bit meh to me, even though it does make sense. I loved the 2 main characters, and most of the other ones, too. The clues that are peppered throughout the story add u Very nice story, although when I started reading it I thought there way a bit too many of the same thems as in her previous books, which I do like but if it's always the same it gets a bit boring. Still, it was a great and interesting story, very hopeful and beautifully written. Some parts at the end (mainly the children part) was a bit meh to me, even though it does make sense. I loved the 2 main characters, and most of the other ones, too. The clues that are peppered throughout the story add up until you have that "Oh" moment, which just makes sense and you ask yourself why you hadn't figured it out before, but it is a wonderful build-up.

  21. 4 out of 5

    rebecca

    thank you to netgalley & the publishers for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review 2.5 stars The Kingdoms started out strong but as each of the six sections passed the story became less and less engaging. Characters who I was intrigued by started to become boring if not straight up annoying to read about. There was real emotional weight to begin with but by the end, these huge moments had little to no introspection (view spoiler)[outside of the central romantic relationship, there was l thank you to netgalley & the publishers for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review 2.5 stars The Kingdoms started out strong but as each of the six sections passed the story became less and less engaging. Characters who I was intrigued by started to become boring if not straight up annoying to read about. There was real emotional weight to begin with but by the end, these huge moments had little to no introspection (view spoiler)[outside of the central romantic relationship, there was little emotions felt around the loss of joe's son, brother and sister-in-law, and his two wives. Only Lily seems to be mourned in any way. (hide spoiler)] I think Pulley is a very talented writer and has a way with words, though this book wasn't for me. The central mystery is no mystery at all, and intriguing set ups (view spoiler)[Madeleine (hide spoiler)] get anticlimactic conclusions. The ending fell so flat to me as I had long since ceased caring about the characters and its hard to root for a romance when you don't like half the pairing (view spoiler)[Kite started out interesting but the explanation for killing Fred was so daft, I don't get how a father like Joe could overlook it and even want to raise children with him (hide spoiler)] .

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rachael

    This is a hard book to review. I liked it in parts but the more I read, the more confusing, disjointed and pretentious it got. It's a book that requires a lot of concentration and took me days to complete. The Kingdoms is an enigmatic and atmospheric alternative history tale that sometimes lingers with you but mostly leaves you puzzled. This was better than Natasha Pulley's debut novel, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, but while her storytelling is good, it is also complicated and I still don't This is a hard book to review. I liked it in parts but the more I read, the more confusing, disjointed and pretentious it got. It's a book that requires a lot of concentration and took me days to complete. The Kingdoms is an enigmatic and atmospheric alternative history tale that sometimes lingers with you but mostly leaves you puzzled. This was better than Natasha Pulley's debut novel, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, but while her storytelling is good, it is also complicated and I still don't know if her style works for me. Thanks for the arc, though, Netgalley.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    4+ stars Wow. That was kind of brilliant. Check out the premise of this book: Amnesia. Time travel. Alternate history. Awesome, right?? It opens with Joe getting off a train in London. He has no memory of anything before that moment. He finds everything in French; it turns out England is a French colony, and he’s not sure if that’s normal or not. He eventually finds his way to a lighthouse and then a ship. Each segment of the story is quite distinct, and it’s quite a while before the ship shows up, so i 4+ stars Wow. That was kind of brilliant. Check out the premise of this book: Amnesia. Time travel. Alternate history. Awesome, right?? It opens with Joe getting off a train in London. He has no memory of anything before that moment. He finds everything in French; it turns out England is a French colony, and he’s not sure if that’s normal or not. He eventually finds his way to a lighthouse and then a ship. Each segment of the story is quite distinct, and it’s quite a while before the ship shows up, so it took me some time to realize that some of these shipmates were main characters that I was supposed to care about. I was a little confused at times by what felt like sudden shifts in scene or dialogue. It may have just been me. There is a lot of suspense and mystery here and lots of FEELS. I wasn’t expecting that, but there are some super poignant moments here. After the ending, read the beginning again. Try not to cry. I dare you. There’s a lot of rep here, I guess, but you don’t even find out Joe’s ethnicity until the very end. He’s a person first. Language: Occasional strong language Sexual Content: Vaguely hinted at Violence: Battle violence Harm to Animals: (view spoiler)[Some tortoises get shot on purpose. (hide spoiler)] Harm to Children: (view spoiler)[Several children are erased from existence. Some children are injured in battle. (hide spoiler)] Other (Triggers): (view spoiler)[slavery; mild torture (hide spoiler)]

  24. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I'm going to go ahead and give this one five stars because it's sticking me. It's definitely a book that demands a re-read--and I knew this from very early on. It's a harder and harsher book than Pulley's other novels--her characters always make hard choices, but here you really see the consequences those hard choices have on the person who makes them. It's also a complicated book--see my comment about needing to re-read! But, in the end, I was very satisfied. Owned ebook 1/2 for the month Overall I'm going to go ahead and give this one five stars because it's sticking me. It's definitely a book that demands a re-read--and I knew this from very early on. It's a harder and harsher book than Pulley's other novels--her characters always make hard choices, but here you really see the consequences those hard choices have on the person who makes them. It's also a complicated book--see my comment about needing to re-read! But, in the end, I was very satisfied. Owned ebook 1/2 for the month Overall owned book 2/2 for the month

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Time travel is one of my favorites and this book did not disappoint. I really enjoyed the alternate history and combined with the time travel it had me on the edge of my seat and it was difficult to put the book down. There is some mystery surrounding Joe and what part he plays and what will happen to him as well as the fate of England. Some going back and forth on my part guessing. This book had all the feels. My heart was torn at one point. That doesn’t happen too often either. I liked how the Time travel is one of my favorites and this book did not disappoint. I really enjoyed the alternate history and combined with the time travel it had me on the edge of my seat and it was difficult to put the book down. There is some mystery surrounding Joe and what part he plays and what will happen to him as well as the fate of England. Some going back and forth on my part guessing. This book had all the feels. My heart was torn at one point. That doesn’t happen too often either. I liked how the time travel worked as part of the story and not just a plot device to trap someone in the future or past etc. Thanks to NetGalley for an advance copy.

  26. 4 out of 5

    gauri

    oh the concept of this book is good GOOD The Kingdoms intrigued me right from the beginning. It's so well written, I was captured by the atmospheric settings and descriptions, as if I was at the location myself, aboard one of the navy ships gazing at the sea. It takes place in an alternate history across different time periods and I'm amazed by how the author managed to pull that off to build a mysterious, complex story that kept me guessing. It was so fun to see some pieces assemble together. Na oh the concept of this book is good GOOD The Kingdoms intrigued me right from the beginning. It's so well written, I was captured by the atmospheric settings and descriptions, as if I was at the location myself, aboard one of the navy ships gazing at the sea. It takes place in an alternate history across different time periods and I'm amazed by how the author managed to pull that off to build a mysterious, complex story that kept me guessing. It was so fun to see some pieces assemble together. Natasha Pulley paints a beautiful picture about love, loss and family, I was left emotionally conflicted. Also, this book very g a y. Felt the yearning to my bones sometimes. What started off great ended up disappointing me later. By part 4 of the book, I felt like the entire "mystery" was prolonged for too long. The reason behind all the happenings didn't have to stretch over so many chapters. So when all the pieces wrapped up, it was underwhelming to say the least. With a concept like that, I really thought we'd have a banger climax. This truly was an ambitious story, one that I loved getting into, but alas the execution wasn't something that I liked. Thank you Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for the ARC!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Iona Sharma

    Natasha Pulley scares me sometimes with how good she is. This one is a standalone (her other three are all in the same universe I think) and is a slipstream historical doing something epic with alternate timelines. The principal idea is "what if the English lost at Trafalgar" - leading, a hundred years later, to an England controlled by France, an outpost kingdom in Scotland and a population of slaves. As is the way with Pulley it feels utterly real, and then so does every other timeline she put Natasha Pulley scares me sometimes with how good she is. This one is a standalone (her other three are all in the same universe I think) and is a slipstream historical doing something epic with alternate timelines. The principal idea is "what if the English lost at Trafalgar" - leading, a hundred years later, to an England controlled by France, an outpost kingdom in Scotland and a population of slaves. As is the way with Pulley it feels utterly real, and then so does every other timeline she puts us in, all rendered in understated and devastating prose that you need to read slowly and carefully to get the full impact of and even so I'm sure I missed some things. It's a romance, too! Queer and again, understated and devastating. I can't recommend this enough.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This was beautiful and lovely and wonderful.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sarah-Hope

    OK. This isn't going to be my usual kind of review because The Kingdoms isn't the usual kind of book. I'm sitting here weeping with joy and sorrow both and just wanting to go back and read it again so I can keep making the complicated whole of it clearer and clearer. So much happens, and it's not hard to follow, but as soon as you're done you want to start reading again to see what you missed on the previous journey through the book. And—it's set on a boat and I hate maritime fiction, so if you OK. This isn't going to be my usual kind of review because The Kingdoms isn't the usual kind of book. I'm sitting here weeping with joy and sorrow both and just wanting to go back and read it again so I can keep making the complicated whole of it clearer and clearer. So much happens, and it's not hard to follow, but as soon as you're done you want to start reading again to see what you missed on the previous journey through the book. And—it's set on a boat and I hate maritime fiction, so if you want proof that it's brilliant, there you have it. I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley; the opinions are my own.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alicja

    Oh my gosh, this book. This book. I absolutely loved it. So many feelings. I'm so glad I had a chance to read e-ARC. Big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my e-copy. Natasha Pulley’s ‘The Kingdoms’ has definitely joined my favourite fantasy books. It’s so atmospheric, engaging and heartbreaking, 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 J Oh my gosh, this book. This book. I absolutely loved it. So many feelings. I'm so glad I had a chance to read e-ARC. Big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my e-copy. Natasha Pulley’s ‘The Kingdoms’ has definitely joined my favourite fantasy books. It’s so atmospheric, engaging and heartbreaking, 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’m certain I will re-read this book in the future! I can't recommend it enough.

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