British Fiction Focus

Before the Last Breath: Revealing The End of the Day by Claire North

Get your sighs of relief ready, readers, because we’re so close to clear of this evil year. In a little over a week, 2017 will be here, and with it, a whole new slate of lovely-looking books. Foremost among them, I dare say, is The End the Day. Claire North’s next is, according to Orbit, “a totally original novel with a mind-bending concept” at its core.

Between Touch, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August and The Sudden Appearance of Hope in the summer of 2016, North—Catherine Webb’s second pseudonym after Kate Griffin—is three for three, in that every book to have borne her name to date has been great. The End of the Day marks a bit of a different direction for her, however.

When I asked the author how it was set to address the question that’s been at the centre of all of North’s novels, namely the nature of identity, she arched her eyebrows—metaphorically and electronically—and said this instead:

The End of the Day is about the ending of a world. Every death of every individual, every town that falls silent, every stage gone dark, every choice that was made when another could have been found, is the end of one world, and possibly the beginning of another. Death doesn’t just come for the last breath, but for the end of freedom, hope, despair, tyranny or certainty. But before Death comes to end something old or begin something new, Charlie comes, to honour all that went before.

Why, that sounds almost… hopeful. Huh.

Really could have done with a little of that in 2016, couldn’t we?

In any event, I’ve got some cover art for you to ooh at, too. It’s not final, but the fine folks at Orbit were good enough to give us a sneaky wee peek at their in-progress look for the book:


Here’s the blurby bit:

Charlie meets everyone—but only once.

You might meet him in a hospital, in a warzone, or at the scene of traffic accident. Then again, you might meet him at the North Pole—he gets everywhere, our Charlie.

Would you shake him by the hand, take the gift he offers, or would you pay no attention to the words he says?

Sometimes he is sent as a courtesy, sometimes as a warning. He never knows which.

You’ll have your chance to meet Charlie—for the first and the last time, mind—what, one wonders, will you leave behind?—when Orbit publishes The End of the Day on April 16.

Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative ScotsmanStrange Horizons, and He lives with about a bazillion books, his better half and a certain sleekit wee beastie in the central belt of bonnie Scotland.


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