The Doors of Eden, Adrian Tchaikovsky – Book Review

Hello Humans! As you may know I was absolutely floored by how amazing Children of Time and Children of Ruin were – the first Adrian Tchaikovsky books I read – and so when the opportunity arose to read the newest book from this author I jumped at the chance! The Doors of Eden looked like just the weird wonderful book I needed.

The Doors of Eden

Goodreads Summary:

Lee’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…

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I should preface this review by saying that I’m still relatively new to the world of Science Fiction. Yes, I’ve devoured Becky Chambers, and the Children of Time Books but other than that my experience with the genre is spotty at best. So you’ll have to forgive me if a fair amount of this book went over my head…but I can only review from my own experience and I’m reading more and more science fiction every year – I’ll be a pro in no time – for now, I’ll just have to rely on search engines to work out some of the weirder aspects of this story…

But on to the story. The actual plot/setting of this book (because the two are very much intertwined) is one that, at first glance, feels familiar. I don’t know if I want to spell it out in this review because this really is a book to discover on your own. But let’s just say it’s a science fiction trope/idea onto which Tchaikovsky puts his own spin.

Oh wait I checked the description and it does say parallel Earths so I can talk about that. It’s parallel Earths. But there’s an element of the Children of Time books in there – it’s a look at the what could have been of evolution, and how those worlds might find a way to interact. It’s weird, and a lot of the science definitely went all the way over my historian’s head – but it’s also fascinating and even if none of it has any basis in real science it feels convincing enough to me that I wouldn’t know (I don’t know – genuinely – this much science scares me).

I thought that hinging this weird and wonderful world on these very human characters was a great choice. We have Lee, the Lesbian Cryptid hunter, Julian the somewhat jaded MI5 agent and Dr Khan, a trans scientist whose works become increasingly important as the book goes on. I actually enjoyed all of these characters – and some of the other side characters we meet along the way. I’d have maybe enjoyed a little more time spent on the character side of things but I think that’s my own preference shining through.

One thing of which I was a little dubious was the representation of Dr Khan – I loved that Tchaikovsky had a trans character in his book and her own character was good, there was just a lot of essential description of what she looked like before – at multiple points, that just hit a wrong nerve for me. I don’t mind characters mentioning that they had known her before, but the description was unnecessary and felt poorly done – just say “I knew her before” (if it is plot-relevant) and focus on who she is now. It was one little niggle that set me on edge throughout the book and was frustrating. Admittedly I read these things with more of a magnifying glass than a lot of people might, and certainly more so than I might have done three years ago – but that’s my experience.

This is a long book, surprisingly so, coming in at over 600 pages in hardback – but there’s a lot to pack in. If you’re thinking about reading this I’d suggest pacing yourself, trying to take all of it in in one go is going to give you a headache!

Overall I mostly thought this was an excellent book – though one that will definitely benefit from multiple re-reads as I’m sure I didn’t take it all in first time. I can’t speak to the audiobook for The Doors of Eden but the Children of Time audiobook is excellent (though at the time of writing I can’t see who the narrator will be) so that might be a good option if, like me, you are easily confused.

My rating: a strong 3.5/5 stars

I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley – all opinions are my own.

The Doors of Eden publishes August 20th (at the time of writing)

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What say you? Will you be reading this? Let me know in the comments below!



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