I knew. I just knew. From the second I finished The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August I knew that Claire North was one of my favourite authors and The End of the Day has solidified that even further. This is only the second book I’ve read from her and yet again I sped through it in one day, barely able to put it down.
In this novel we follow Charlie, a recent grad who’s just gotten a job working as the harbinger of death. Pretty standard stuff. He goes before death, wherever he is needed all over the world. Sometimes he is a courtesy, sometimes he’s a warning. We follow him for both.
This is such an interesting concept, having Death have a human assistant who goes before him for important cases, who gives Death a face, who talks to people. I’m sure it’s been done before but I love the way that North has carried it out here. We see people from all walks of life who have a variety of responses to the harbingers presence, from anger and denial, to attempting to persuade Death, to calm acceptance. All of the individual stories are handled incredibly well and bring a new perspective on life to the reader.
Not only do people die, but ideas too. Whether that is an old racist finally dying away, an abandonment of a tradition or an escape into a new life, Death honours each and every one of them. This personally made me think more about times in my life where something has died, whether it was a dream never to be achieved or a mindset I overcome. Everything has its time.
There is also the impact is has on Charlie. It would have been easy for North to not even cover this, to gloss past it as though it would never happen. Instead she puts it front and centre, this sort of work would take its toll on a person. It isn’t easy. This really adds an actual human aspect to a character who could have easily become as dehumanised as Death themselves and adds another punch to the book.
If you are at all interested in fantasy’s which are heavily set on reality, where for all others life continues as normal, apart from the select few who live this extraordinary existence, then I 100% recommend picking up anything by Claire North. The End of the Day would, ironically, be a great place to start.
Claire North is a pseudonym for Catherine Webb, who has also written under the name Kate Griffin. I’ve not read any of her works under the various names yet but it’s definitely something I intend on doing in the future.