Release date: 7 March 2023
Rating: 4.5/5 book I 5/5 narration
Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld
Synopsis: By turns suspenseful and enchanting, this breathtaking first novel weaves a story of love, family, history, and myth as seen through the eyes of one immortal woman
Collette LeSange is a lonely artist who heads an elite fine arts school for children in upstate New York. Her youthful beauty masks the dark truth of her life: she has endured centuries of turmoil and heartache in the wake of her grandfather’s long-ago decision to make her immortal like himself. Now in 1984, Collette finds her life upended by the arrival of a gifted child from a troubled home, the return of a stalking presence from her past, and her own mysteriously growing hunger.
Combining brilliant prose with breathtaking suspense, The God of Endings serves as a larger exploration of the human condition in all its complexity, asking us the most fundamental question: is life in this world a gift or a curse?
If you’re looking for a book with a subtle degree of horror and a healthy dose of foreboding with a niggling sense of the nightmarish, The God of Endings is for you. Holland brings to the table a sophistication of plot and narrative I haven’t seen in a while with a blended genre book. Collette’s tale unfurls itself in equal parts historical fantasy, horror, mystery, thriller, and paranormal with a measure of literary fiction thrown in. I was engrossed as soon as I hit the play button and couldn’t stop until the story was over. I highly recommend this book for those who like a scary read with only a glossing of grotesque and not an over abundant amount of descriptive gore.
Turned into a vampire at a young age by her grandfather, Collette née Anja (or Anna?) now finds herself working with young children—perhaps to relive continuously that which she was robbed of in her own youth. She is headmistress of a French preschool with only the children who will create the least amount of problems—until she finds herself intrigued and fascinated with the artistic talent of a young boy named Leo, whose parents are having serious issues. Against her better judgment, she admits Leo to her school and has to pay the price of meddling in the young boy’s affairs, though she has vowed to be only a passive member of society.
The expert sense of foreboding Holland expresses partly through the ever-present God of Endings, Czernobog (alternately spelled as Chernobog, Tchernobog, or Černobog—as this was an audiobook, I am not sure of the spelling in the book), whom Collette feels the presence of throughout the book. As this God of Endings chases Collette all over the world, readers read glimpses of his presence in her life experiences from the time of her beginning until the present day in this book, which is the 20th Century. The rest of the suspense and, quite frankly in my experience, anxiety, comes in the form of how the reader imagines Collette’s current state of living with her ever-increasing and insatiable hunger will play out as she tries desperately to quell the blood urge while also teaching small children. Can she control herself? Well, you’ll have to read and find out.
While the build up to the end is amazingly propulsive and a completely nail-biting experience, I felt the end fizzled just a tad. Not enough for me to rate it below 4 stars, though.
Saskia Maarleveld narrates this with skill I rarely find in a narrator. Perfect execution of different voices for different characters—there are many—and absolutely mesmerizing. This is a read that I highly recommend experiencing through audio if possible.
My thanks to NetGalley for the ALC, for which I willingly give my own, honest opinion.