01 February 2011

Book of the Week (87): "Tyme's End" by B.R. Collins

Bibi is drawn to Tyme’s End, the deserted old mansion close to where she lives with her adoptive family; and the truth is, Tyme’s End is the only place she really feels at home – the old house holds an attraction for her that’s undeniably potent, but also hard to explain. Even Bibi knows there’s something odd about the place, but what? When the long-lost owner, Oliver, shows up one day out of the blue, it seems as though the reasons for the house’s strange power might be made clear. But no, not yet, it’s not quite that simple…

If you’ve read either of the previous books by B.R. Collins, you won’t be surprised to learn that she’s trying something pretty ambitious in Tyme’s End. It’s a story in three parts, set in 1936, 1996 and 2006, where events of one time have chilling consequences in the later periods, but they’re told to us in reverse order. We’re in 2006, and something is amiss but it’s not quite clear what… and we have to go back to 1996 to understand it… or at least part of it, because really to get the full picture of why 1996 is as it is we have to go still further back to 1936, to a story in which Oliver’s grandfather is the protagonist and all is revealed. The chronology has to go backwards, the momentum still has to feel like it’s going forwards. Not an easy one to pull off.

The opening of Tyme’s End is good, and it gets better, gaining in menace as it retreats in time – the past is a foreign country, yes, and it’s certainly full of surprises, but it’s also perpetually here with us today, in ways we might not expect and that we certainly won’t like. And so the reader is drawn back into that other time, an irresistible gravitational pull towards back a single extraordinary character who is evil, and irresistible…

(But no more for fear of spoilers.)

Smart, chilling stuff.

Recommended by Daniel Hahn

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