Hodder, out now
A man discovered buried in deep ice is unfrozen and finds himself a century away from his own time, at the centre of attention of every sort…
Stephen Kiernan’s debut novel has some wonderful moments in it – and at its heart, there’s a love story that is sweetly old-fashioned. Told through four point of view characters – the female scientist who is able to see the man rather than just a specimen; the cynical reporter permitted to follow the story; the high-powered autocrat who tries to control everything in his and those around him’s lives; and, eventually, Judge Jeremiah Rice, who died in 1906 and is reborn in the 21st century – it’s a tragic tale with some life-affirming elements.
The book is divided into five sections, which match the changes in the “new” life cycle of revived creatures; the titles don’t just apply to Rice, but all those around him: the public, the media, even the scientists involved in his resurrection. Kiernan, perhaps unwisely, gives away the ending of the book right at the start – without that, the scenes at the end and the nature of the narration would leave some ambiguity about Rice’s destiny. I’m a little surprised that the book doesn’t finish with Rice’s final chapter; while there’s something to be said for following characters to see whether they do live happily ever after or not, it does make the book slightly peter out.
However, there is much to enjoy in Kiernan’s writing: we get different viewpoints on key events, which are interpreted very differently by those involved in them, and he makes the reader empathise with both sides of the fundamental level of misunderstanding and cultural difference between the 20th century judge and the 21st century scientist. It’s something that the Captain America films have touched on very briefly, but is a key element of this novel.
Verdict: A touching novel that will reverberate long after you finish it. 7/10