Europe At Midnight – The Fractured Europe Sequence #2 – Dave Hutchinson
Release date: November 5th, 2015
Age Group: Adult
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
In a fractured Europe, new nations are springing up everywhere, some literally overnight.
For an intelligence officer like Jim it’s a nightmare. Every week or so a friendly power spawns a new and unknown national entity which may or may not be friendly to England’s interests. It’s hard to keep on top of it all.
But things are about to get worse for Jim. A stabbing on a London bus pitches him into a world where his intelligence service is preparing for war with another universe, and a man has appeared who may hold the key to unlocking Europe’s most jealously guarded secret…
I went into this book without reading the previous one, Europe in Autumn, and without really reading the blurb. The thing about Solaris is that they always manage to surprise me with their books, because they always have a unique style and a unique story. I wanted to be surprised again by Europe at Midnight and it certainly succeeded in doing that.
The first part of the story takes you to a University Campus. The weird thing is that they can’t leave the campus. There are several merciless mechanisms to prevent anyone from leaving. We join the story right after rebels have taken over the Campus, a necessary coup to bring down the corrupt Old Board. Though the people on the Campus are now free from the influence of the Old Board, they now live in poverty. When Rupert of Hentzau, the new and completely unprepared Professor of Intelligence, finds bodies in the river who appear to be ‘Escape Group 8’, he starts wondering where the other 7 groups have gone. Did they manage to get out? Rupert’s investigation will take him to places he could never have imagined.
I enjoyed this part of the book. The University Campus is eerily familiar (as I’m working on one), but at the same time so utterly different. Rupert’s investigation immediately piqued my interest. The more he uncovers, the stranger everything gets and the more intrigued I was. I also quite liked Rupert as a character, even though the guy has plenty of flaws.
After this first part, the story switches to England, where an operative, Jim, is asked to investigate the attempted murder of a mysterious man on a London bus. Jim soon finds out there’s more to it than just a petty stabbing. While Jim’s and Rupert’s storylines continue, we finally learn what is central in Hutchinson’s world: parallel and pocket universes. Readers of my blog might remember that I have a particular liking for anything to do with parallel universes. They fascinate me to no end. Hutchinson has made an interesting version of a parallel universe, setting it up as an alternative Europe created by a British family. This basically means that the entire continent is British and as a foreigner currently living in the UK, I was very amused when one of the main characters voiced my exact thought: how does one survive on just British food?
Rupert’s and Jim’s storylines beautifully entangle at some point. This part was probably my favourite in the whole novel, it was so cleverly done! From there on the story picks up speed and is a bit all over the place. Still interesting, but I threatened to get lost and eventually I actually did get lost, which left me a bit disappointed at the end.
Europe at Midnight is definitely a fascinating book that I greatly enjoyed for the most part. It’s funny, clever, a bit dark and very interesting, but it’s a book that demands all your attention, especially at the end, and that’s where it went wrong for me.
If you haven’t read Europe in Autumn yet, you won’t have too many difficulties when starting Europe at Midnight as the book is erfectly readable without having read Europe in Autumn.