The Stonehenge Letters

Harry Karlinsky

A novel so dedicated to its own verisimilitude that it completely succeeds at sounding like a badly written historical biography. It is obsessively researched and is one of the few major pieces of fiction I have, in the company of Thomas Wharton's Salamander, that comes equipped with an extensive postscript and bibliography.

I'm not sure if I should admire its continued attempts to sound as real as possible, because that dedication to form made it somewhat of a boring read, with its academic and research-driven tone of objectivity creating a Freudian displacement in the emotional connections to the main characters of the work: the relatively minor character of Mr. Nobel getting the crux of the character development, while the leading character of Mr. Sohlman is ignored as he dictates the core action. (Was that intentional, I wonder...?) To some frustration, it does not really get super interesting until chapter 10 out of the total 18, and by then most other readers would have given up on the lull following the strong first chapter, leading me to think it might've been interesting to see a version told using anachronistic arrangement. While the results may be variable, I still respect the ambition of this experiment. The story required a lot of setup, and it was at its best when those moments finally could arrive.

The Stonehenge Letters is an example of an undervalued genre of fiction one could call the paradoxical name of “historical science fiction,” and it is the first of the kind I've ever read.

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