Paris Adrift is a fantasy book about the way small events can shape people, places, and the destiny of humanity itself.
One of the main strengths of this book is the atmosphere. The descriptions of Paris through time – the crowded bars of 2017, the theaters of 1875, the alternate dystopian city of 2042 – are vivid and fascinating.
The main character is Hallie, a young woman who is on a gap year from her geology studies. She is running from her family, from her past, and in some way from herself, but at Millie’s there’s something awaiting for her: the staff will quickly become her new family, and in the keg room there’s the anomaly – time travel.
Millie’s, as it turns out, is a very special place.
All the characters and their friendships were memorable and well-developed. Even the romance, which I didn’t like for half of the novel, slowly grew on me. By the end of the book, I loved Hallie and Léon.
Paris Adrift is also really diverse (a diverse ensemble cast!). The main character struggles with panic attacks, which I had never seen before in an adult fantasy novel; there are side characters who are Colombian and Algerian; there’s a side f/f couple.
The only thing I didn’t love was how some words like psychopath, schizophrenic and borderline were sometimes used in a disparaging way/to describe a character who was acting weird (and that’s not what those words mean).
My favorite character was the mysterious chronometrist; she was unsettling in the best way.
This book does have its creepy moments – the anomaly isn’t exactly a benevolent entity, and time-travel in the catacombs isn’t a pleasant experience either.
Paris Adrift is a story that weaves together time travel and modern politics, exploring many relevant themes. Maybe it will feel dated sooner, but it also feels more real, more grounded.
I flew through this book. I always wanted to know what was going to happen; the short chapters helped. It’s divided into nine parts, and this could have felt disjointed, but the transition was never awkward. I never knew which direction the story would take next.
My rating: ★★★★¾