Hopeland by Ian McDonald *****


Given we’re only 22 days into the new year, it seems to be very faint praise indeed to call “Hopeland” by Ian McDonald my favorite book of the year, though it certainly is. I think it also beats out anything I read in 2022, and I read a lot of great stuff in 2022!

Ian McDonald is one of my favorite authors, and as I’ve said before, I feel like he’s been trying to figure out a way to break into the cultural zeitgeist with his last several books. He wrote a YA series (which I read and liked, though I felt like it was missing the complexity I want in an McDonald novel), and he wrote his “Game of Domes” series (which I enjoyed greatly, but it felt a bit rushed at the end). I liked all of it, but none hit me over the head and dazzled me like “The Dervish House.”

“Hopeland” is a return to form, in my opinion. It is just so good. A generational love story set in the near past, present, and near future. It is also a story of climate change (cli-fi, I guess… though that term grates on my ears), Tesla coils, a large manor house, and magic. Maybe magic? Is it really magic? Could be!

The final chapters made me tear up three times, as did the author’s acknowledgement (the book is dedicated to his partner, Enid, who died of cancer).

I can’t say enough glowing things about this book. I hope that I read a book that tops it this year, but it seems doubtful to me.

“Hopeland” comes out on 2/14/23, and you should read it.

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