The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Publication date: 20 August 2020
Genre: Science fiction
Page count: 608 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.
A new book from Adrian Tchaikovsky, one of my favourite authors, is always an exciting event. The Doors of Eden was a book that immediately caught my attention with its stunning cover and intriguing concept. I had sky-high expectations for this book, and I am so pleased to say thatthey were absolutely met! The Doors of Eden is an incredibly accessible, fun, and thought-provoking science fiction story with Tchaikovsky’s signature twist.
Four years ago, two girls went looking for monsters on Bodmin Moor. Only one came back.
Lee thought she’d lost Mal, but now she’s miraculously returned. But what happened that day on the moors? And where has she been all this time? Mal’s reappearance hasn’t gone unnoticed by MI5 officers either, and Lee isn’t the only one with questions.
Julian Sabreur is investigating an attack on top physicist Kay Amal Khan. This leads Julian to clash with agents of an unknown power – and they may or may not be human. His only clue is grainy footage, showing a woman who supposedly died on Bodmin Moor.
Dr Khan’s research was theoretical; then she found cracks between our world and parallel Earths. Now these cracks are widening, revealing extraordinary creatures. And as the doors crash open, anything could come through.
If you haven’t read any of his books before, or are newer to reading sci-fi, I think this would be a great place to start with Tchaikovsky’s science fiction work due in part to the fact that it is mostly set in the real world. Not only does the familiarity of London streets and modern life help set the scene for readers, the characters are totally relatable and face real issues. This real-world setting is something new for him, I believe, and it works incredibly well! Don’t worry though, there are plenty of trilobites, rat people, and other strange terrestrial and alien beings to fill the pages as well as humans!
While the plot and world are excellent, the characters are what really drive this story. We have multiple points of view across the book, and they intertwine together so effectively. This is one of the rare books where I enjoyed every POV, rather than preferring one over others because each voice was used so intentionally and added their own flavour to the story — I can’t think of a single one that should be cut. I absolutely loved Lee and Mal, our lesbian cryptid hunters and introduction to the book, as well as Alison, the MI5 analyst who sees a little more than the rest of us. However, my absolute favourite was Dr Kay Amal Khan, the fabulously smart-mouthed, cigarette smoking genius who will save us all. The chemistry between these human characters and the relationships they form (or are forced into) with the non-humans they encounter are just fantastic. The audiobook narrator does a great job of bringing these characters to life — although I did have to speed it up to nearly 2x as she speaks quite slowly — and she masters the sharp dialogue. If you’re going to pick this one up, I’d highly recommend the audiobook!
The Doors of Eden is an incredibly pacey, otherworldly, and fun science fiction adventure — who would have thought the end of the world would be so delightful? A must-read for fans of Tchaikovsky’s work and newcomers alike — you’ll absolutely tear through it!
Note (plus marked spoiler): It would be disingenuous for me to not mention the treatment of Kay by other characters in the story, as I worry it may make some readers, especially trans readers, uncomfortable. She’s a trans woman and while I thought Tchaikovsky did a great job of making her a complex and fabulous character, some of the side characters misgender and deadname her throughout the book in passing. This is meant to show the ignorance of these characters, but I wanted to give a heads up about these moments.
*Minor spoilers below*
There is also a Very Bad Villain who refuses to accept her identity and forces her to masculinise in a small part of the book.
I haven’t seen any trans reviewers cover this book yet, but I plan to keep an eye out and will link them here if I spot them!
Want to pick up The Doors of Eden for yourself? You can find it at the following sites (affiliate links):