I don’t normally post book reviews as I’m really quite awful at them. I think it’s because what entrances me about a book so often fades away as soon as the covers close. However, I thought I’d give it a bit of a go this time as I really enjoyed this and I think that the author is one to watch out for.
Tyme’s End is a daring sort of novel in that its structure is unusual for a book aimed at the YA market. It consists of three distinct sections going backwards in time, each linked by the house of the title, Tyme’s End. Not only that, but it’s written with three separate narrators; Bibi – a teenage girl, adopted and feeling as though she doesn’t fit in; Oliver, a teenage boy whose relationship with his grandfather is strained as he struggles to find out the truth about his father; Oliver – Oliver Jr’s grandfather, a young Cambridge student in the thrall of an exciting, intoxicating man, the owner of Tyme’s End – H.J. Martin.
If it sounds complex, it is and it isn’t. B.R Collins is a skilled writer, able to wield three narrators and three eras in time separately and yet weave them together so that the reader is in no doubt how the house, deserted and strange, has ended up as we see it in the opening chapters.
In the 1936 portion of the book we see that the house belongs to H.J Martin, a war hero celebrity not unlike T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia). By 2006, when Bibi is telling her story, Martin has become a local legend with a slew of biographies written about him and tourists visiting his haunts. As we creep backwards in time though, we understand that Martin is less hero and more psychopath. I confess to being genuinely shocked during the last third of the book. It raised so many questions for me about war, about hero-worship and even madness.
Collins handled Martin’s character well, and I can’t imagine that he was easy to write. He has a way of existing beyond the confines of the book in a strange manner that I find rather disconcerting. She also writes Bibi and both Olivers so beautifully, each voice distinct and each telling their own emotional story. In my mind I can imagine another section written later in time with Bibi revisiting Tyme’s End, passing on another part of the story of that strange place. It’s a remarkable construction that I think works so well – so cleverly.
There are so many bits of this story I loved; the atmosphere, the descriptions of summer and endless, perfect afternoons and the way they turn sour and strange in the shadow of Tyme’s End. I hope that B.R. Collins keeps turning out books because I could read her prose til my eyes won’t focus any more.
So….there you are….a book review. Don’t get used to it…
In other news….Raffle Mojo has returned. Out for a curry tonight with the boy following a spectacular win at local concert. (Little Treble still sporting his gorgeous voice…fear we’re on borrowed time though…)