I am fresh off finishing this book just an hour ago and the main thought still in my head is, “Why can’t anyone just write a single book anymore? Is 400 pages really not enough to tell your story in?” I was so caught up in this but suddenly it hit me two pages from the end–“huh, there’s no way everything is getting wrapped up in 2 pages, dammit! this is being set up as a the first in a series/trilogy” It’s just maddening. I felt the same way about Hunger Games. OK, enough of the rant, because this was a super and imaginative novel. A words about how I acquired this book–the other day I found myself with nothing to read (which is foolish I realized because I have stacks of “to be read” books in the house and I literally just forgot about them) and I asked Paul to go ahead and surprise me and just bring something home. He brought me this and Shift (which I’m about 2/3 of the way through and it’s also awesome.) I looked at the cover of The Explosionist and said “Is this set in a boarding school?” and sure enough it was. How funny that the cover, which just showed a young girl’s face, was so identifiable as a boarding school book.
Anyway, here’s why this book is great–it’s set in 1938, but it’s an alternate history all based on a particular real historical event having a different outcome. What would the world have been like? All kinds of things would have been different, most notably the acceptance of spirtualism in the form of government agencies regulating mediums, weekly seances, and the like. Sophie has a strange experience with a medium which she wants to ignore, but can’t when the medium winds up dead. Soon there are two mysterious murders, a teacher who might be a bomber (in their world terrorists are often bombing Scotland), and voices of the dead are trying to contact Sophie. It’s a great mystery/adventure/mildly supernatural/sort of historical mishmash of a book. At the end I found the author’s note really interesting, and it added another layer to the story for me.