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Book Review: "The God of Endings" is the darker, rated R version of Addie LaRue

Jacqueline Holland’s novel “The God of Endings” is a haunting debut with vampires, Slavic mythology, and an “am I going crazy” plot line for the ages.

Collette LeSange may appear as the youthful headmistress––albeit lonely artist––of a private art school in New York, but she is anything but. In reality, Collette is centuries old. Anna (AKA Collette) is originally from 1830s upstate New York, where her father carves tombstones for a living. Despite local folklore of the dead being brought back to life, Anna is enamored with her father’s work. But after she and her family succumb to a horrific illness, Anna is unwillingly brought back to life by her step-grandfather, who turns her into a young vampire.

Several centuries later, in 1984, Anna––also known as Collette--—runs a private arts preschool in upstate New York. Although reluctant to make connections, Anna’s life becomes entangled with the family of one of her students after becoming concerned for his safety and health. All the while, Anna struggles to juggle a presence from her past and her growing hunger.

Jumping back and forth between Anna’s past and present, Holland masterfully captures the atmosphere of 1800s Eastern Europe, where Anna is sent to build a new life after she transitions into immortality, as well as rural France in World War II, where she becomes a teacher. As the novel follows Anna’s life throughout the centuries, Holland shapes her into a nuanced woman running from her past. Despite there being no romance plot in “The God of Endings,” you’ll find yourself falling in love with Anna’s hopeful attitude and quiet strength throughout the novel.

Much of the novel traces Anna’s footsteps and figures out the present-day issues. Still, Holland sprinkles in just the right amount of existential crises to satiate any reader. With themes of grief, loss, and fighting against your fears, Holland doesn’t hold back on the emotions and horrors of life.

My tiniest gripe was that I wish there were more emphasis on the Slavic folklore woven into the novel, especially when Anna was living in Eastern Europe. Although Czernobog plays a significant role in Anna’s fears throughout her life, incorporating more folklore into the narrative could’ve added more dimension to Anna’s past.

A darker version of V.E. Schwab’s “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” but still in a league of its own, “The God of Endings” is a stunning debut from an author I hope to see more from.

Flatiron Books and Netgalley provided this copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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