Hannu Rajaniemi
Summerland Cover



Fantasy, spies, Victorian spiritualism and the afterlife, set in a very alternate 1938. Great writing, a strong female character, and world building that may be a bit too deep. Also, way too many blurbs on the cover!

One of those blurbs mentions spies that don't die, which is partially true. The worlds here are our world, Summerland or the Summer Court (a spirit world which is largely British?), and the Winter Court (the opposition - no nationality mentioned?). A ticket is required for entry into Summerland (how British!), and of course you must be dead. So spies who die with a ticket can end up in Summerland, and can continue to spy, kind-of. If this paragraph seemed confusing, that matches some of the book.

This is Rajaniemi's first standalone novel after a very successful series starting with the Quantum Thief. I loved the writing, though I had some trouble following the world. I got the idea that some of the names involved were people I should know. Maybe there is a guide out there connecting the dots. One of the main characters, larger than life Herbert Blanco West, is clearly HG Wells, though may have a twist of Lovecraft (Herbert West) or even Lloyd George.

I picked this up in Helsinki last year, and the first two chapters were both excellent introductions to the two main characters. For me, the quality fell off in later chapters - or maybe that was confusion. 3 out of 5 stars, and I look forward to reading his highly rated series.