Paris Adrift (2018) by E.J. Swift

‘What we were feeds into the things that will become, and after the last memory of us has faded from the world, it is stone that remains to tell what stories it can.’

 

Imagine if you were able to visit Paris at different points in time. And what if your actions could change the future, either for the better or the worse…

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The story opens with a glimpse of a dark dystopian future where survivors of a devastating war are discussing the possibilities of changing the past. Following this, we shift to the present-day where we are introduced to main character Hallie. She is a British university student spending a gap-year living and working in present-day Paris. As we get to know her via her friends and surroundings, a strange encounter with a Japanese woman changes Hallie’s life.

Paris Adrift is a time-travel story which uses the setting of Paris as a focal point for the narrative. We visit the city at different points in time and it feels like a character itself, so important is it to the story. I enjoyed the snapshots of Paris through the ages but felt that they were a little too brief. I wanted to know more and would’ve liked the author to have spent more time in each period. The future-Paris she imagines is quite fascinating and could’ve made a great story by itself.

As a leading character, Hallie was a little underwhelming. I didn’t really feel her, if you know what I mean. She didn’t become anything more than generic for me, which was a shame. She wasn’t badly written, she just failed to leap off the page and make me care what happened to her. There were hints of an interesting backstory that were never really expanded on.

Some of the supporting characters left more of an impression on me. The “chronometrist” was my favourite and was crying out for more story-time. She was creepy yet fascinating for it. Writing this review a few days after finishing the book, I’ve all but forgotten Hallie but the chronometrist is still with me. There’s a sequel with her name on it just waiting to be written!

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Paris Adrift contains some clever ideas including a rather unique way of looking at the addictive as well as dangerous nature of time travel. There are some lovely lyrical passages to be found in Swift’s writing throughout the book. The two quotes I’ve included in this review really impressed me.

‘Each touch leaves its trail of atoms. And houses harbor, too, the premonitions of things desired and things that are yet to come; the families we may create, the friends we may meet, the lovers whose bodies we may one day embrace.’

 

Last year, I read and enjoyed E.J. Swift’s short story “The Jinn Hunter’s Apprentice” in the collection The Djinn Falls in Love & Other Stories. So, I was really looking forward to this book. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite as good as I was hoping but it’s still a well-written story with enough in it to keep you reading to the end. If you have an interest in time-travel fiction or the city of Paris, this could be the book you’re looking for.


I received a digital ARC from the publisher Solaris via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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E.J. Swift

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