Friday, November 18, 2022

Book Review: The Doors of Eden

book cover for The Doors of EdenLee's best friend went missing on Bodmin Moor, four years ago. She and Mal were chasing rumours of monsters when they found something all too real. Now Mal is back, but where has she been, and who is she working for?

When government physicist Kay Amal Khan is attacked, the security services investigate. This leads MI5's Julian Sabreur deep into terrifying new territory, where he clashes with mysterious agents of an unknown power—who may or may not be human. And Julian's only clue is some grainy footage—showing a woman who supposedly died on Bodmin Moor.

Khan's extradimensional research was purely theoretical, until she found cracks between our world and countless others. Parallel Earths where monsters live. These cracks are getting wider every day, so who knows what might creep through? Or what will happen when those walls finally come crashing down...

This is my third Tchaikovsky novel, and the first one that fell short for me. It could be that the first two that I read, Children of Time and Spiderlight, were so good that the bar was set too high.

The main story had an interesting premise, but the execution didn't work for me. I felt that it dragged at times, too many scenes with people wondering what's going on or not believing what their eyes are telling them. What I really enjoyed were the interstitials: excerpts from other timelines where different species rose to prominence on alternative Earths. The world-building in these mini-documentaries really demonstrated Tchaikovsky's love for zoology. I wanted to read stories based in these worlds or their interaction with ours.

Which brings me to the characters. I really didn't care for them, well the humans anyway. The non-human characters were the interesting ones. Khan, the foul-mouthed, chain smoking physicist was the best of the humans. Lee and Mal were ok. Any scene with Julian was disappointing. The blurb makes it seem like he carries the story, but he was more of a passenger. He really couldn't handle anything outside a narrow British box of expectations. I couldn't wait for his scenes to be over with. His co-worker, Alison, was ok by the end but took a while to get there. Even the villain was dull, there to be the foil to the underlying message of inclusion.

There's a big reveal towards the last quarter of the book that explains how all of this came about. It got my hopes up for a strong finish, but then we got more navel gazing. The execution of the last part, well, I've seen Star Trek do it better. And the end left me like, "Oh, that's it?" If it wasn't for the world-building, I'd rate it lower.

3 stars