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The God of Endings

A Novel

by Jacqueline Holland

The God of Endings by Jacqueline Holland X
The God of Endings by Jacqueline Holland
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Vampires need love too
Excellent writing, a real page turner.
Ann B. (Kernville, CA)

A marvel of a debut novel
"Everyone must decide for themselves whether this world and life in it is a kindness or an unkindness, a blessing or a curse." This novel is a marvel, difficult to classify, easy to admire. Told in alternating chapters, switching from the past to the novel's present time of 1984, The God of Endings is the saga of a lonely, immortal woman. It is at once a vampire novel, a psychological thriller, and an exploration of the human condition in general, motherhood in particular. It is also a coming-of-age novel, wherein the point-of-view character Anna/Anya/Colette takes 460 pages and more than 200 years to move forward, facing her greatest fear. If, like me, you love a saga with sides of fantasy, mythology, history, thriller vibes, and gorgeous prose, this debut novel is a must-read.
Michelle M. (West Warwick, RI)

I was instantly enveloped into the world of The God of Endings. Very impressive for a debut novel and I was SO pleasantly surprised to discover: VAMPIRES! Always a fav subject of mine. Fans of Anne Rice, take note! The novel opens during a particularly brutal and bleak time in history. Consumption is wiping out whole communities and the townsfolk's fears surrounding the disease spiral to the supernatural & cause them to do unspeakable deeds in an effort to quell the spread.

The main character Anna/Anya/Collette survives thanks to her Grandfather and her journey takes a surprising turn. The idea of being immortal is quite seductive, however, once the reality of outliving everyone you'll ever know and love who's mortal (and all that blood-drinking) becomes your reality, it makes the existence sound positively intolerable, at least from where I'm sitting.

Holland's lush prose positively swept me away! I found myself re-reading whole passages simply because of how beautifully written it is. I felt like I knew Collette on an intimate level. I admired her strength and compassion. My heart went out to her and all she comes up against in her many lifetimes; endless lessons to be learned. I so enjoyed her knowledge and use of art. How painting a landscape took her "away" and gave her peace for a short time and her interactions with her students, including little gifted Leo. This book left me with much food for thought. Collette is a poignant character that now lives in my head. I can't stop thinking about her.

I will certainly be keeping an eye out for Ms Holland's future writings and if she deigns to gift us with another installment of Collette, I'll be here for it!
Cheryl J. (Pebble Beach, CA)

A Beautiful and Strange Book
I was struck from the beginning, at the brutality this young and beautiful girl is able to survive in her long life. Anna is made immortal while only 10 years old, during a consumption outbreak in her small village. It got her father first, and she finishes the gravestone he began carving before his death. The rector of the church tells her they will unbury him and burn his body to prevent the devil using him to harm others. When Anna gets consumption, she is brought to the rectory for care, but her grandfather strides in and takes her away with him, to his home 20 miles away. As she begins to fade away, her immortal grandfather decides she, too, will be immortal, and he drinks her blood. He explained, "The World, my dear child, all of it, right to the very end if there is to be an end, is a gift. But it's a gift few are strong enough to receive. I made a judgment that you might be among those strong few, that you might be better served on this side of things than the other." And she goes on to prove him correct.

The story flips between the time of her passage to immortality and the last three months of 1984. This allows the story to slowly unfold between her most current enterprise as a French woman teaching art to young children ages three through five, at her home operated pre-school and her life unfolding through the years, in many countries, across many ages.

At the art school, 'Collette,' as she is called, has a handful of well-off children and a special soon to be six year old student, Leo, with a genius ability to draw. She is pulled to him, and her life during the end of 1984 is radically impacted by him and his family. The mother, we come to understand, is either incredibly clumsy or being abused by her husband. As the story unfolds, we find that all is not as we first thought. We see her increasing affection for Leo and her fear for his safety.

Immortality comes with unusual needs, and Collette is tormented with the getting of nourishment. At first, she had many cats, that when used carefully could sustain her needs. But over time, she needs more and is hungry more, and is fearful, more often that she might do something that she will regret, something like what she remembers from her past.

She has nightmares at night thinking of all the people she had not been able to protect from the ugliness around them—poverty, neglect, abuse, orphanhood, loss. She has so many years of experience, of people, of war, fear, hatred, resulting in chasmic depth of sorrow, guilt, depression.

The alternating chapters contain information from the past, enabling the telling of her tale over the last one hundred and forty years. She learned early not to trust people in villages and towns. She moved in with her grandfather, but she died after a failed procedure by a doctor of the day, and she began to fade. Grandfather decided to suck her blood and put a bell in her hand and he would await her return to life immortal, Shortly afterward, she was sent to Europe to stay with a very old woman, Piroska who raised her as 'Anya' as long as it was safe to do so. There were two twin boys there too, Yano and Ehru. They grew longer together and their faces narrowed but they didn't really age. Anya grew to love Yano, and be cautious of Ehru.

During her time at the house, she learned to fear the villagers and their superstitions; the village she came from in 1830 New York, was superstitious with the consumption outbreak, considered it from the devil, or other evil doers, it required religious interference. The resulting fear caused the villagers to become violent. The villagers near Piroska's grew fearful, of Ehru and his large size and fearful ways. The end result was violence and 'Anya' running way into the forest. Where, she meets a wonderful man who teaches her to paint, and who teaches her about love and loyalty and kindness. Until, things change (she suspects Czernobog).

I appreciated that she had lovely experiences, people being kind to her and people she was kind to people she loved with all her heart. But her struggles with her appetite; her struggles with Czernobog, the bad god, the god of endings; her premonitions of death; her wishes for her own death; these struggles highlight this step of Collette's next step to the transformation will take place. Perhaps Leo will go with her.

The story is imaginative and quite compelling. I could not put it down. The author's writing is lyrical and poetic, particularly when a character is speaking a truth. I look forward to reading another great book from Jacqueline Holland, soon.
Terri K. (Houston, TX)

The God of Endings by Jacqueline Holland
The God of Endings follows the life of a ten-year-old girl, Anna, who died in the 1830s of tuberculosis. The book opens with the Anna describing her home life with her father, a gravestone carver, and brother, Eli. With a tuberculosis epidemic, Anna's father is busy making the gravestones for the townsfolk. Aware of his fate, her father, who is not named, begins making his gravestone, inscribing it with a verse from Donne's tenth Holy Sonnet, "Death, be not proud." However, Anna discovers that he did not finish the stone, and she decides to finish it. Before dying, Anna's father wrote to Anna and Eli's grandfather, a man the children did not know. However, Anna's grandfather sets Anna's fate when she dies of tuberculosis. He drinks her blood when she is near death, turning her into an immortal vampire.

The remainder of the book is split between Anna, later called Anya, and Colette, whose story begins in 1984. Her grandfather sends Anya to Europe with his butler, Angoston, but he does little to prepare Anya for her new way of being in the world. Anya begins to learn about her new life and instincts during the journey. She is introduced to new cravings, urging, and powers but doesn't understand them. Anya's story begins with that journey and continues through France, Germany, and Egypt. Out of fear of herself, she isolates herself from local populations learning how to feed her thirst for blood without killing people.

Colette has grown into her character, understanding her vampiric needs and managing her strong impulses. She has opened a preschool at her grandfather's home. Colette's fears begin when she discovers that she likely has gruesome blackouts. Her worries are crystalized around the coming of Czernobog, the God of Endings.

Ms. Holland has written a rich, character-driven novel that explores the emotions of Anya/Colette as she works to reconcile her needs as a vampire with her guilt and anguish about what those needs require. This conflict of emotions is presented in a gentle way, present but not overwhelming the characters. As Anya begins to understand her new life and Colette fears her blackouts and Czernobog, Ms. Holland draws the reader in with a careful exploration of their fear and resignation to this life.

Anya/Colette's strong moral compass is the center of this story. It is also a story of beginnings and ends, good and evil, constraint and abandon. There are no tidy resolutions to the conflicts. Instead, the reader is guided to a place of understanding.

The God of Endings is a vampire story that does not focus on gore or horror but rather on the human story, which I found compelling and engaging. Anna/Anya/Collette is a character that I will remember. Indeed, as I finished the book, I found myself missing her.

"Together, we are starving in the darkness, sinking, brittling, growing gaunt, our only hope some mysterious clemency that may never come."
Helia R. (Goodlettsville, TN)

A breathtaking novel that straddles genre and defies classification
After losing myself in this extraordinary debut for a solid week (at over four hundred and sixty pages the novel is hefty) I'm very curious how THE GOD OF ENDINGS will be shelved in bookstores: Will it be considered literary fiction given the gorgeous prose and universal themes of love and loss? Will it be filed under speculative fiction or fantasy because its protagonist is one of the undead? Maybe the prevailing atmosphere of mystery and dread makes this a gothic novel… The tale starts in the 1830s and ends in the early 1980s, so could it be…. historical fiction….with magical elements?

Wherever this book will be placed, book groups will gobble it up: So many questions to discuss! Would you rather die and be forgotten or live forever, feeding on the living? Should you stay away from loving mortals to avoid grief? Or pass on the curse of eternal life so you can keep loving them?
Colleen T. (Lakewood, CO)

Great Adventure
The God of Endings by Jacqueline Holland is a wonderful first novel. I was completely engrossed with the twists and turns of the story, with Anna's coming of age over centuries instead of years, and her coming to terms with her grief, loss and who she is throughout all that she saw and experienced. I love a book I don't want to put down, and this novel is like that. Kudos to Ms. Holland on her first novel.
Bonne O. (Hartwell, GA)

The Cycle of Endings
I really loved The God of Endings. It is a wonderfully exciting different kind of vampire story. This epic tale of a young women's personal growth and acceptance spans numerous life times over two centuries and across several continents. It delves into the struggle of her unwanted immortality, the powers it gives her and the denial of human attributes she longs to have.

It's beautifully written with detailed imagery of mountain landscapes, quaint villages, ocean voyages, and interesting people. I was so captivated by the heroines loving and compassionate qualities that I easily accepted some of the more gruesome unthinkable ones. In the course of all the twists and turns inevitable in multiple lifetimes, I particularly enjoyed how the author integrated art as a perfect segue to each new beginning.

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