San Francisco, California

Summerland

Hannu Rajaniemi has made something marvelous; his latest novel Summerland is the best spy thriller I’ve read in years. The story is set in the early 20th century and in an alternative timeline where the British discovered the afterlife and began to colonize it. Queen Victoria’s spirit still rules over England, even after she died, and she now barks orders from her palace in The Summer City – a fortification that British adventurers discovered after they had passed over.

Anyway, the novel is set in the 1930s where the British Empire is in a cold war with Russia. Lenin’s spirit, known only as The Presence, continues to rule the land and has consumed millions of souls. Stalin on the other hand is hanging out in Spain trying to start a civil war in order to destroy the British, the Russians, The Presence, and the Summer City because he wants death to have meaning once again.

Read that last sentence once more because holy yikes this is a weird book and that’s just the précis. In short, I would highly recommend this novel because of how strange and peculiar the story is. I couldn’t put this thing down once I started.