Title: The Kingdom of Ohio
Author: Matthew Flaming
Release Date: December 31, 2009
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books
Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The year is 1901, and Peter Force has moved to New York City from Idaho, where he has managed to get a job digging the subway tunnels. After work one day, a mysterious woman asks for Peter’s help. That woman is named Cheri-Anne Toledo, and her strange and wondrous tale involves the scientific giants Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, financier J.P. Morgan, and the wonders and impossibilities of time travel.
The Kingdom of Ohio is a fascinating novel that is as intelligent as it is captivating. Peter Force is a wonderful main character – determined and hardworking, he is an honest man who seeks an honest day’s wages. When he meets Cheri-Anne Toledo, he is dumbfounded by her story and can’t bring himself to believe what she says is true. However, he tries to help her because she is alone and needs someone to, if not believe her story, at least believe in her.
Cheri-Anne, meanwhile, is the perfect tragic heroine. She has lost so much, fallen so far, yet still has her dignity and her beauty. Her mysterious quality makes her even more attractive to the reader – is she telling the truth, or merely delusional?
The weaving together of The Kingdom of Ohio is absolutely flawless – there are so many characters, so many different storylines, and so much fact mixed with fiction. It’s all seamlessly blended together to create an amazing and rich story. Though this is Flaming’s debut novel, the artful quality of this book makes it seem like he’s a tried and true novelist. He certainly has a lot of talent at putting together a quality story that will keep readers hooked.
There were many people from history included as characters in The Kingdom of Ohio, and it was simply fascinating to see them brought to life. Nikola Tesla was one of my favorite characters – it was great to see a book that focused more on him, rather than his more-famous contemporary, Thomas Edison. Indeed, Thomas Edison and J.P. Morgan are painted as somewhat villainous in this book, which is as amusing as it is clever.
The Kingdom of Ohio is another amazing book from Amy Einhorn Books, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. My only piece of advice would be to not go into it with expectations of what it should be about. This book defies all attempts to characterize it, whether it be assigning it a genre or trying to dissect its complicated storyline, and it is so much better if you go in not knowing what’s coming. It’s a wonderful piece of fiction and I can’t wait to see what Matthew Flaming does next.