All Those Vanished Engines by Paul Park weaves in and out of history and story telling like the interwoven gold and animal hair bracelet discussed over and over again throughout the book. Set just after the American Civil War, World War II and beyond, the book tells a convoluted tale of alternate history mixed with real events.
All Those Vanished Engines combines alternate history with the real history of Paul Park’s family. The events in the book all focus around the state of Virginia and the Battle of the Crater, but with varying degree of truth. Park has a fascinating system of different Southern and Union running systems, including an Empress for each segment of the Civil War. Paul Park’s book can at times be hard to follow. At one point, the writings of a child’s journal are entered for the reader and they are nearly unreadable. Park attempts to misspell words in order to make them more childlike, but instead the passage becomes more of a brain puzzle challenge to figure out just what the child is trying to get across. Much like reading Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, I found myself reading these passages aloud in order to garner the necessary plot points.
Overall Paul Park’s All Those Vanished Engines is interesting and the twists are entertaining. The book requires thought and careful reading.
All Those Vanished Engines is available July 1, 2014 from Forge Books.