Author: B. R. Collins
Release date: 4th Jan 2011 UK
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: Bloomsbury Books
Bibi feels out of place everywhere - everywhere that is, except for Tyme's End, the deserted house that she breaks into when she thinks nobody is nearby. There she unexpectedly meets Oliver Gardner, the owner of the house, who's just returned after ten years away. Their story and the story of Oliver's grandfather becomes inextricably entwined, linked as they are by Tyme's End itself. For Tyme's End is more than just a deserted house. It is a house that by turns can be romantic, beguiling, sinister and malevolent. It is a house that had a cruel and manipulative owner. And anybody who enters Tyme's End must prepare themselves for terror ...Part mystery, part psychological thriller, set in the present yet with forays into the past, this is a cleverly ambitious novel that makes for a compulsive and gripping read.
This is a novel of exploration, containing drama, mystery and a ghost story, which makes for an interesting, suspensful combination and a gripping read.
Primarily, this is the story of Tyme's End, an English country house that has a strong effect on a number of people. The house is already one of the things I admired about the novel. It almost becomes a living organism in the book, a presence that every visitor to Tyme's End feels, everyone in a different way. Some feel comfort in the house and some feel haunted. This old mansion is full of old ghosts, resentments and secrets. It is both a setting of drama and catharsis, which serves really well in the novel on a symbolical level.
The story is divided into three parts. The first part happens in 2006 and revolves around Bibi (short for Habiba), a teenage girl who feels resentful and angry all the time because she is adopted and cannot feel that she belongs in her adoptive parents' family. The only place where she feels at home and accepted is Tyme's End, now an abandoned mansion in 2006. The house was once the property of H.J. Martin, a celebrated author of The Owl of the Desert. For Bibi, Tyme's End is a place of safety and tranquility. The house does not judge her, but accepts her and never wants anything in return.
This changes for Bibi when the current owner, twenty-seven-year-old Oliver from America, arrives unexpectedly and it seems that Bibi will lose her one haven in the world. But Bibi's peace does not end with Oliver's arrival; it begins with him. They are both troubled and wounded individuals who recognise a kindred spirit in each other. Bibi and Oliver come from different backgrounds and generations, but true friendship and understanding know no limitations. Together, Bibi and Oliver spend what I deem to be one of the most perfect days ever created in literature. The process of their bonding is skillfully described and completely believable. Their day of perfection ends with a bit of chaos, but that chaos actually has a cathartic effect on Bibi; it is a wake-up call. Sadly, Bibi and Oliver's story is not explored further, which is what the romantic in me would have wanted. But, I am not entirely displeased because that day of perfection was truly wonderfully delivered and it sets up a great frame for the story that is at the heart of the novel, the story of three men: Oliver, Oliver's grandfather (also named Oliver) and H.J. Martin, or simply ''Jack'', the famous, much-admired author.
The second part takes place in 1996 and focuses on Oliver, revealing why he is so troubled and why he believes that his grandfather did a terrible thing as a young man. It is all connected to Tyme's End and H.J. Martin, something his grandfather tried to conceal from Oliver forever, but Oliver discovers the truth quite by accident, nonetheless. This is the part of the novel where the ghost story steps in. It is hard to say whether a ghost ever appeared to Oliver's eyes because there is always a chance that Oliver might have imagined things during a moment when he was upset and eager for knowledge, but the atmosphere is definitely full of delightful tension very reminiscen of a true ghost story. That part is so well described that it made the hairs on my arms rise and this is definitely a compliment. The author is very adept at creating mystery, suspense and tension. In fact, the atmosphere is quite Gothic.
Oliver's story ends with drama as well, marking him for life, and leads the leader to the third (and last) part of the novel taking place in 1936. The reader finally gets to meet H.J. Martin, who is not exactly what one may have expected. He is not the author his loyal fans make him to be and in all honesty, he reminded me a lot of Lord Henry Wotton from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. Martin, or Jack as his friends call him, is an eccentric man with a streak of cruelty in him. Jack tells a young Oliver (the grandfather) that he is to inherit Tyme's End and Oliver accepts, although reluctantly. Afterwards, Jack confesses a terrible secret to Oliver, a secret that reveals Jack's true nature and cruelty, and scares Oliver, making him feel sorry that he ever agreed to inheriting Tyme's End. The tension is amazing and reaches its peak in the novel. The whole truth concerning Jack and Oliver is revealed, and I can say that it's quite shocking and unexpected.
Tyme's End is a house that can swallow people or liberate them. It tormented both Olivers in the story, but liberated Bibi. One may say that with Bibi, the curse of the house was broken.
The intense atmosphere is incredible in this novel. It has a very Gothic sense to it and runs from the first to the last page. Readers who love suspensful, tense mysteries wuth a tinge of supernatural will definitely like this novel. The characters are well-developed and interesting, but the focus of the story is mostly on the plot and the atmosphere. It shows that a curse can survive through generations and torture people until someone acknowledges it and breaks it. I really enjoyed the mystery and its revelation. The only thing about the novel that let me down a bit was the fact that the first story including Bibi and Oliver did not have a continuation, but even though the romantic in me would have demanded it, I can see that this served a specific purpose and the story just wouldn't be the same if it had a very definite conclusion.
I can say that, all in all, this is a very gripping read that will stay with me for a while. I love novels in which a house is a character and Tyme's End can definitely offer that.
Becky says: Irena, Tyme's End sounds like such an atmospheric book. Gothic and tense. The house sounds like a powerful entity. I think it is a little too on the terrifying side for my taste but I'm delighted you enjoyed it so much.
Both our thanks go to Bloomsbury Books for sending the book to review.