Girlfriends Mal and Lee are cryptid hunters. They don’t believe in any of the monsters they hunt, of course, but it’s fun to follow the clues and debunk the myths for their blog. But on their last adventure, they saw some weird stuff and Mal disappeared.
That was four years ago. Now, suddenly, Lee runs into Mal on the street in London and she’s with a man who looks like a Neanderthal. Where has she been and why is she with that guy? And why is a world-renowned physicist and an evil villain suddenly so interested in Lee and Mal?
Other humans are also having strange experiences. These include Julian, an MI5 agent stuck in a deteriorating marriage, his colleague Alison who’s really good with data, a retired soldier named Lucas who works for the evil guy, and Dr. Khan, the eccentric but brilliant transgender physicist mentioned above.
As the story proceeds, these folks learn that there are “cracks in the world” that are getting wider. What’s coming through are the creatures that have experienced slightly different evolutionary pressures and therefore have developed differently on parallel Earths. Our heroes will need to discover the secrets of the universe if they’re going to save Earth from the evil guy and his allies.
The Doors of Eden (2020) is an intelligent, mind-bending epic that goes in bizarre and unexpected directions. It’s a stand-alone novel that covers a lot of time, space, and even other dimensions.
I admire the scale of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s story and I especially love the unusual ending which felt like an emotional rollercoaster even though, unfortunately, I didn’t feel attached to any of the characters (there may have been too many).
Interspersed throughout the story are chapters describing how Earth could have been different if some other species besides humans had won the evolutionary lottery and risen to the top of the food chain. (Cats, rats, spiders, dinosaurs … ) These are interesting thought experiments which shed light on the evolutionary factors that may cause us to naturally be prejudiced, nationalistic, racist, or unjust in other ways. I think I enjoyed these chapters most because they made me think.
Sophie Aldred narrates Hachette Audio’s edition of The Doors of Eden. She has a lovely voice and does a wonderful job.