Disclaimer: I won an ARC through BookishFirst in exchange for a review.
“In the beginning, there was nothing.
Then the world.
Then people, but no art.
Then people made art.
Then people died.
Now there is art, but no people.”
Years after a deadly Fly Flu pandemic*, the Earth as it was is no more. Whole cities of people are gone. There are small pockets of community banding together to make do in a world reshaped by the Fly Flu.
But now something has happened.18-year-old Nico’s mother has died of a mysterious illness, and now her father is exhibiting the same early symptoms. On Nico’s 18th birthday, her father gives her a task. She must leave for Manchester. On the eighth day, her father will ring the bell on their house’s bell tower a couple hours after sunset to attempt to open some sort of portal that may be the solution to the latent Fly Flu now infecting those who survived.
David Arnold began his writing career with Mosquitoland, an odyssey of a sort about Mim trying to find her way back to her mother on a bus trip that doesn’t go as planned. He followed that up with Kids of Appetite, where those who do not fit into society forge their own. Next was The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik which asked the question: what do you do when your life no longer makes any sense?
While The Electric Kingdom is a departure from Arnold’s previous contemporaries, Arnold builds upon the themes of epic journeys, found families, and how to keep on living when your life as it was no longer makes sense. It is a perfect evolution for Arnold as he masterfully weaves together a carefully constructed world with brilliant words.
The Electric Kingdom is about the journey, about the questions, and about making peace when answers do not come. It is about asking “how can I fight this darkness?” and finding that answer.
Arnold takes you on a journey in The Electric Kingdom, and it is not one that I will soon forget.
The Electric Kingdom releases on February 9.
*The Fly Flu pandemic is not at all like covid-19. The Fly Flu (which is actually bees) was caused when an attempt to genetically modify honeybees went wrong. The Flies killed off billions of people before the flu struck. Very, very different from Covid-19