By: Kevin J. Fellows
Genre: Literary Fantasy, Magical Realism
Publisher: Modern Folklore Press
I received an eBook copy from Storytellers on Tour in exchange for an honest review
Summary (from Goodreads) A wayward city spinning through time and place connects and draws travelers; trapping them with no way to return home. Each traveler: Nico the peddler; Stina the university graduate; João, a Lieutenant for the King of Portugal; and Croydon, a boy at the edge of adolescence—each must choose to either stay in the strange medieval city where magic infects and wealth is not measured in coin, or leave to find a new home in the next time and place.
Many arrivals accept the city’s magic, others desire all the power for themselves, and one seeks to destroy it. Disrupting the magic of the oasis could trigger the unmaking of the city and the world containing it.
Kevin J. Fellows debut novel At the End of the World is highly unique, thought provoking fantasy. The interconnection between the world building and the characters is beautifully crafted. The End of the World is a city that travels each day through space and time, never in the same place. As the characters come to the city, not knowing how they arrived there, some begin to manifest magic. The magic system is fascinating because it’s not overt. One citizen can hear the heartbeats of everyone, another person can infuse objects with memories, and another can tell if anyone is coming to the city. Those who do not accept that they have come to the city, however they arrived, and actively move against the system, will not manifest any magic. It’s certainly more subtle than other fantasy books I have read. The mayor controls the underlying magic of the city. If it is destroyed or tampered with, it would mean the End of the World.
One of the most interesting aspects is how citizens earn money. Upon coming to the city, they must see the mayor. They are given a wooden “coin”. As good deeds are done, the coin’s color increases, becoming more red. That was such a novel feature in this book, as were so many other aspects.
The main characters, Nico, Stina, João and the adolescent boy, Croyden all arrive in the city from different periods in time. The closest in time periods are Stina and Croyden. How and why they arrive there is left to the reader to interpret. They seemingly all arrive by accident. Stina is driving home and her car breaks down. She sees the city and thinks she can call for help. She goes back to her car and it’s gone. Croyden walks over a bridge while out with his friends and arrives there. Why these people are chosen is seemingly random. While it is highly unlikely that the characters will ever go home, they are not trapped in the city. They can leave at any point, taking a chance at where in time they will be. Some stay and some leave, and still others resent being there and will do what they feel is necessary to get home.
I finished this book and I still think about it. Why were those people chosen? I thought perhaps it was a redemption arc. They needed closure for something they had done and once they did the good deeds, they could go home. It was clearly not that because Nico, Stina, João and Croyden are all good people who do stay an begin building a life. Perhaps it’s more about what you would do when faced with the unknown. What would you do? Would you stay in this strange town in which you manifest magical ability? Would you take a chance and leave, starting a new life in another place and time? After reading it, I’m not sure what I would do, and maybe that’s what we are supposed be left with.
I highly recommend At the End of the World. It’s a unique fantasy and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
You can read more about Kevin J. Fellows at his website at https://kevinjfellows.com/
You purchase At the End of the World on Amazon
My thanks to Storytellers on Tour for a copy of the eBook in exchange for an honest review
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