Science fiction and fantasy
by Rio Youers
Scott has kicked his addiction and taken up a new life as a journalist. He thinks he's made a break with the past. But after he picks up Mia Floats Softly walking in the rain he discovers the past has a stronger hold on him than he thought, and he can't escape his nature so easily.
End Times is full of tantalising mysteries. Is Mia a ghost, a witch, or something else entirely? What does she want with Scott, and did he do anything to deserve her wrath? Why did he lose his fingers? And what did the Followers of the Voice get up to? The story is more interesting because of the realism of most of the characters, who come across as everyday people. Scott's paraplegic friend Sebby Cross is described with sympathy, but he's far too cheeky and well-rounded to become a mere figure of pity.
The story asks whether desire ruins us, and if it's ever possible to escape from it. Mia pursues Scott with the inevitability of destiny, like the fate written in the broken life-line on his palm. People in the story are always reaching too far for what they want, often getting burned or finding out that what they were after wasn't real in any case.
There's a change of pace and tone at the end of the book, when Scott travels to a Sioux reservation in Dakota. The tale slows down and becomes dreamier. The author gives fair warning of this early on in the book, but it's still quite a contrast with the grittier early chapters.
I didn't love the simplicity of the ending because I thought the story raised questions about human nature that can't be solved in one fell swoop. But I'm nitpicking. End Times is a searing exploration of pain, love, loss and addiction, told with skill and originality. File under Books That Will Change You.
27th September 2010
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