My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Fantastic example of a novel that British authors seem to write with impunity: the fantasy novel that refuses to acknowledge itself as such, and persuades everyone else not to either. In this case, what starts out as a meticulously researched and beautifully realistic double narrative about a young sailor on Queen Elizabeth’s first sanctioned slaving voyage and the unfolding of the Ratcliffe Highway murders of John Williams some 250-odd years later develops into a gritty fantasy crime procedural involving questions of (im)mortality, the natural sciences, race politics and the class system. The ending is a little truncated, and the climax dealt with a little too easily, but the interweaving of historical figures, politics and social movements with the imagined narrative is superb, and makes for a rich and satisfying reading experience. Not at all what i was expecting when I picked up the book, but an absolute pleasure nonetheless.