The Kingdom of Ohio is part historical fiction, part pseudo-historical fiction, part romance, and part good old-fashioned time travel tale. At various points in the text I was reminded of the play Arcadia by Tom Stoppard, the works of Jonathan Safran Foer, and the 1982 television show Voyagers!. Although it may sound as though this book suffers from a serious identity crisis, Flaming manages to bring these disparate elements together, forming an original, thought-provoking narrative.
While others might enjoy the fictionalized treatment of Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, and the making of the New York subway tunnels, I stuck around to find out what happened between Peter Force and Cheri-Anne Toledo. But by the end of the book, I couldn’t help feeling like there was some missed potential with this romance. The connection between these two should have been the heart of the story, but the romantic tension wasn’t developed enough make it completely believable.
I would characterize Flaming's prose style as intelligent, well-crafted, and literary. I was surprised to read other reviewers call the writing “gritty”! (Nothing wrong with grittiness--I just don't agree with the assessment.) Overall, The Kingdom of Ohio is a beautifully written, ambitious first novel. I’m reserving a five-star review for his next book!