I am delighted to share my review today for End of Story by Louise Swanson. This is an amazing book that had me stunned, in a good way. Louise Swanson is also known as Louise Beech and her books are amazing so I was interested to see what she had in store for us when she stepped into dystopian fiction.
My huge thanks to Hodder & Stoughton Publishers for granting my request to read this title via NetGalley.
Too much imagination can be a dangerous thing
It’s the year 2035 and fiction has been banned by the government for five years. Writing novels is a crime. Reading fairytales to children is punishable by law.
Fern Dostoy is a criminal. Officially, she has retrained in a new job outside of the arts but she still scrawls in a secret notepad in an effort to capture what her life has become: her work on a banned phone line, reading bedtime stories to sleep-starved children; Hunter, the young boy who calls her and has captured her heart; and the dreaded visits from government officials.
But as Fern begins to learn more about Hunter, doubts begin to surface. What are they both hiding? And who can be trusted?
What a remarkable story this one was. It is a dystopian set in the future that has banned fiction. No bookshops, publishers, bedtime stories, authors or readers. I cannot imagine a world without literature but the author did and she has created such an addictive story.
This is a story of two parts, the first being that of an author, Fern Dostoy. She was an author and now lives in a grotty flat as a cleaner, long gone are the days of being a best-selling author with a nice house and busy schedule. The second part of the story is something that gradually creeps up on you, well it did me, and that is all I am going to say about it.
Fern is a woman who is trying to keep to the rules, but she does stray a little in this Big Brother-style story. She goes to work, she comes home, doesn’t mix with others and lives a very isolated life. The few people who do cross her path are people at the hospital where she works, her neighbour and a salesman. She has been told to keep a low profile, but those who have read her books know who she is.
Set in the near future this is a chilling tale of a woman trying to work out how to keep going. She tries to keep within the rules but little things seem to tempt her. One of these is Hunter, a boy who she talks to on the phone. Her every move or thought she feels is watched, she has gotten used to the government visits enough to know their routines but still fears them.
The author does a brilliant job of creating a depressing and dark era in her story. Written during the Covid pandemic, it is easy to imagine the solitude from when we could only go out for essentials. I think the author has used this experience to great effect as she nails that feeling of loss and adds the loss of fiction to that as well it feels like such a sad world. For many of us though, books helped to get us through.
The story that emerges is one that really captured my attention, I was convinced I was going to read a story by this author (aka Louise Beech) and not cry given the futuristic setting. How wrong I was, and to be fair I should have known better! What starts with a woman just surviving turns into a woman trying to learn how to live.
This is a wonderful story and it was one that took me by surprise, a chilling read at times but one that I adored. I do like the darker dystopian style and this for me was well done and created a wonderful backdrop to the next part of Fern’s story. This is a book I would definitely recommend.
Oh and one final thing… that ending!!! 😲🤯… genius.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Also publishes under Louise Beech.
Louise Swanson’s debut End of Story arrives in March 2023. She wrote the book during the final lockdown of 2020, following a family tragedy, finding refuge in the fiction she created. The themes of the book – grief, isolation, love of the arts, the power of storytelling – came from a very real place. Swanson, a mother of two who lives in East Yorkshire with her husband, regularly blogs, talks at events, and is a huge advocate of openly discussing mental health and suicide.
She also writes as Louise Beech. Beech’s eight books have won the Best magazine Book of the Year 2019, shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year, longlisted for the Polari Prize, and been a Clare Mackintosh Book Club Pick. Her memoir, Daffodils, was released in audiobook in 2022.
Louise is on Twitter @LouiseWriter
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