Marc is a boatman who takes tourists from the mainland to the island of Davenhall, and who is unaware that he is also the lynchpin of a world-changing fantasy involving a dead writer and Adolf Hitler. Marc is the son of a prostitute and has not left his boat to set foot on solid land in fifteen years. That is, until he sees a beautiful woman in a blue dress, who rides his boat to Davenhall and does not return.
Click here to see the rest of this review
Marc leaves the boat and searches the island for the woman, but instead finds his mother, and they are both visited by a ghost. The ghost is a man named Banning Jainlight, who takes over the story. When he was alive, Jainlight worked as a writer who specialized in pornographic stories, and as his career went on, he became very popular with a German man he knew only as Client X.
Client X was Hitler, who took over Jainlight's life and required him to write stories of Hitler's life with his niece, whom he loved before she died. Jainlight writes story after story, and Hitler grows more and more obsessed with his fictional love life. Jainlight knows his client is evil and hatches a plan to destroy him: he will write a story about the son born of the imaginary romance, and then reveal the child as a deformed monster.
But when the time comes he cannot do it. Jainlight's ghost tells Marc that he is the child of the Fuhrer, and he crossed over from one timeline to another. In Jainlight's world, the Nazi army was never defeated. They destroyed England, reached an uneasy peace with Russia, and invaded Mexico with the aim to enter the United States. But Marc lives in our world, where Germany lost in 1945.
Jainlight died fifteen years before Marc came to the island. After he finishes telling his story, the two versions of 20th Century history merge and return to normal. In the end, Marc finds the girl in the blue dress.
Best part of story, including ending:
It's mindblowing and thought-provoking the way this novel creates an alternate history of World War II, and merges it with our world via the character who was invented as fiction in one world and lives as a real person in the other.
Best scene in story:
When Jainlight plans to create Hitler's monstrous child, it's easy to get wrapped up in the horror of the scene. He imagines the child as a weird, insect-like monster with antennae and stingers and a hundred eyes, then imagines it crawling across the floor to its father, who is so evil you almost want to see this horrifying scene really happen.
Opinion about the main character:
Jainlight tells his story with a weary tone, which is fair since he's a ghost who's been dead for years, and who suffered through an even worse World War II than the one that really occurred. But it gets tiresome after a while.