In a fractured Europe, new nations are springing up everywhere, some literally overnight.
For an intelligence officer like Jim it’s a nightmare. Every week or so a friendly power spawns a new and unknown national entity which may or may not be friendly to England’s interests. It’s hard to keep on top of it all.
But things are about to get worse for Jim. A stabbing on a London bus pitches him into a world where his intelligence service is preparing for war with another universe, and a man has appeared who may hold the key to unlocking Europe’s most jealously guarded secret…
Title: Europe at Midnight | Series: Fractured Europe | Author: Dave Hutchinson | Publisher: Solaris | Pub Date: 05/11/2015 | Pages: 304| ISBN13: 9781781083987 | Genre: Sci-Fi| Language: English | Source: NetGalley| Starred Review
Europe at Midnight Review
With Europe at Midnight, I found myself drawn into the narrative and interested in what was going on. I had the clear sense that I was unpacking a world and events that had preceded the opening pages, and that was fine by me. Every character, every world, has a history. It doesn’t start with page one. I trusted the history would be relevant to the plot, and that trust paid off in unexpected ways.
I haven’t read the first book in the Fractured Europe series, but it didn’t cause confusion for me with this narrative. What I liked about this story is that it created an intriguing world and then turned things on its head. Seemingly unrelated storylines wove together, and I couldn’t see all the outcomes from the start, but the foundation for those developments was built into the story subtly.
This is a story about spies and secrets. About parallel universes and double-crosses. About agendas and players, and people being played. I found it compelling on a spy thriller level as well as a sci-fi level. Hutchinson weaves the strengths of both genres together to give us something that’s just a little bit different from most other stories I’ve seen, and left me wondering where things were going.
The key characters had arcs, but I won’t discuss them in any detail here. To do so would involve spoilers. This is one of those times when I have to simply say you’ll either be interested in the characters’ stories, or you won’t, and that will likely make or break how well the book works for you overall. I didn’t always get the answers I initially thought I wanted as I read, but what I did get were a lot of surprises, and the novel kept me on my toes.
I did feel that the shifts between POV characters were spaced out too much. While this helps you really get your bearings with one character, switching gears abruptly after 15% is a significant shift, and you’re essentially starting the story all over again because you’re changing locations, dealing with different characters, and dealing with different events. Once I adapted to that approach, it was fine. It isn’t perhaps my favorite stylistic choice, but that’s a personal preference that ultimately didn’t keep me from blazing through this book.
I wish some of the female characters had more agency and involvement, but that’s also a personal preference.
Europe at Midnight also doesn’t shy away from realistic endings. By that, I mean not everyone will be satisfied with the resolution to this book, but I felt a chapter had been closed in a way that felt consistent with the work overall.
I believe Europe at Midnight will appeal to people who like unreliable narrators, political intrigue, just enough real world settings to scare your pants off, and possibilities that will make the Cold War of the 50s through the 80s seem trivial. It was an enjoyable book that drew me into the plot and kept me engaged. So much so that it even drew me back in when narrators changed and I read it in record time.
You can purchase a copy of this book via your normal retailer, but please consider purchasing it from a local indie bookshop instead. It can be found here at Indiebound or at Bookshop. Please note the Bookshop link is an affiliate link and each purchase you make through it helps to support Sci-Fi & Scary and keep the site running.