**I read an ARC of this book**
So the whole thing about the french aristocrat who came to Ohio and started his own kingdom made a vague kind of sense to me in the way that good alternate history can.
And that’s what this book is: alternate history. Oh, the blurb is all like:
“After discovering an old photograph, an elderly antiques dealer living in present-day Los Angeles is forced to revisit the history he has struggled to deny. ”
But really Peter, the old man, and Cheri-Anne, the possibly time-traveling girl he meets, aren’t the real main characters of this story. The real main character of this story is the time period when John Pierpoint Morgan and Nikola Tesla and Edison were alive in New York. Peter and Cheri-Anne could be the same character for all the difference I felt in them, and for all the meaning they had in the story. There were used but as a focal lens to go here and there in this New York the author obviously loves, so he could give us more and more details of the time and the place.
The story itself boils down to: Boy comes to New York to dig subway. Boy meets girl. Girl says she knows Tesla. Girl gets arrested. Boy saves girl. Boy and Girl blow up a part of the subway.
Pretty basic. What makes this story enjoyable, and ultimately drags it down, is the details of time, place, factoids about Edison and Tesla, and the oddly believable story of the Kingdom of Ohio (from whence Cheri-Ann came). These details are fascinating, but in the end, make this book more of a history tome than a story. In some ways it reminded me of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clark, but without the overarching story that pulls the reader along the history-laden world. Rather, Kingdom of Ohio is a historic mine one has to dig through to find the story.
History buffs will love this. People who want to immerse themselves in a New York of another time will like this. However, people looking for a rousing plot or strong characters will probably not enjoy it as much.