What if our words could create realities?
It's not a new thought, and certainly the goal of every writer. But take it a step further: What if our words created the reality? In the film Stranger Than Fiction, an author realises everything that she writes happens to a real man. Iain Pears' novel Arcadia is similar, focusing on a writer in the Cold War era who, along with Tolkien and Lewis, is obsessed with creating new worlds. What he doesn't realise is that what he's actually writing is the future–and past and present must squeeze and shift until they fit.
This would be interesting enough if his works revolved around a narrow love story, but the world he envisions is something of a mix between Medieval Europe, a YA romance novel, and a not-quite-parallel-world space opera. In short? Life has to change pretty drastically.
The premise is a complicated one, and the shifting perspectives and time frames could have been jolting in another writer's hands. But Pears leans into the confusion, leaving enough stones unturned that the reader can decide exactly what's going on.
This isn't a novel for everyone, but it sure does cover most of the genres and themes you can list off the top of your head. If you decide to give it a go, do yourself a favour and jump in before reading other reviews, or even the back of the book. The less you know, the better, and the more exciting the original twists and turns will be. I think you'll come away not only loving this book, but also loving the magic that stories can create.
Rating: 5 Stars