Psalms For The End Of The World by Cole Haddon

Today I am sharing my thoughts on Psalms For The End Of The World by Cole Haddon. It’s a book that I had recommended to me whilst at Harrogate, and having seen a fellow reader’s reaction to the book, I was excited to get started. My thanks to publisher Headline for the advance copy via NetGalley. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Netgalley
Release Date: 01 September 2022
Publisher: Heaedline

About the Book

It’s 1962 and physics student Grace Pulansky believes she has met the man of her dreams, Robert Jones, while serving up slices of pecan pie at the local diner. But then the FBI shows up, with their fedoras and off-the-rack business suits, and accuses him of being a bomb-planting mass-murderer.

Finding herself on the run with Jones across America’s Southwest, the discoveries awaiting Gracie will undermine everything she knows about the universe. Her story will reveal how scores of lives – an identity-swapping rock star, a mourning lover in ancient China, Nazi hunters in pursuit of a terrible secret, a crazed artist in pre-revolutionary France, an astronaut struggling with a turbulent interplanetary future, and many more – are interconnected across space and time by love, grief, and quantum entanglement.

Spanning continents, centuries, and dimensions, this exquisitely crafted and madly inventive novel – a triple-disk, concept-album of a book – is a profound yet propulsive enquiry into the nature of reality – the perfect immersive read for fans of David Mitchell, Emily St. John Mandel, Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood.

My Thoughts

This book is completely unique and yet somewhat familiar. There really is no easy way to describe it that doesn’t risk highlighting the premise that makes up the real heart of the book. It’s a book I think has the potential to polarise readers, one that it took me the best part of a week to read and absorb because there is a lot going on and a lot to think about.

It’s a book I really enjoyed, and that may seem a little strange to some as this is, potentially, as close as I’ve come to reading a science fiction style of novel for a very, very, long time. But beyond those elements which make us think long and hard about the very nature of existence, there is a mystery that feeds through the very centre of this novel. It is this that drew my attention, that and the moments of humour that have the capacity to both amuse some and, most likely, offend others.

This was a book I did need to concentrate on. There are so many threads, so many different stories that are told during the course of the story, that keeping track of the characters takes some doing. Ultimately, all roads lead in a very similar direction, but trying to guess what the ultimate destination might be seems almost impossible.

There was a moment when certain truths are spelt out, when the author pulls readers sharply towards an unexpected truth, and from that point on, watching events unfold is done with a kind of knowing smugness in that we are far more aware than any of the characters we are watching. But the author has many surprises still up his sleeve, and there are many revelations yet to come that have the capacity to upend everything you thought you knew.

The central characters of Gracie and Jones I did come to like pretty quickly. Good news as they lead reads on one heck of a journey. There are so many characters, all very clearly defined and unique, whose stories we become invested in for very different reasons, but in some respects this was one of the great challenges of the book. Keeping track of just where were were in both time and space. From 18th century France to a near future that is scarily believable, North and South America, London and many places in between and beyond.

There was one poignant moment in which the story talks of King Charles III, pages I read just a day after this became very much our new reality. Whilst it was a fleeting reference, it is just one of many factual references that infuse the novel, giving readers a real sense of time.

There is a strong sense of tension that informs the story, particularly as Jones is forced on the run, accused of a crime he could not have committed. But it is more the way in which the book questions the very fabric of reality – of the meaning of life, time, and religion – and makes the reader also think about the possibilities of a kind of virtual reality that is where the power of the book lies. At least I think it is. Maybe I didn’t really read the book after all. Who knows?

If you like your books to be unique, mind-bending and challenging, packed with great narrative and characters who will occupy far too much of your thoughts, this could well be the book for you. There are some moments that will make you stop and pause and wonder if you really read what you think you did, but just go with it. The rewards will be rich.

About the Author

Cole Haddon is an Australian-American novelist, screenwriter, and journalist whose work has been published or produced for screens across the world. DRACULA, his first TV commission, was produced by NBC and Sky Living starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers. PSALMS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD, his first novel, will hit shelves on 1 September of 2022. He lives in the Blue Mountains of Australia with his wife and two children.

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