I’ll be honest. I’m a little on the fence with The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas, and I suspect this mostly has to do with personal taste, because the writing is incredibly textured. But I’ve never been a huge fan of time travel and paradoxes in speculative fiction, which forms the very basis of this story.
The basis of this novel is quite simple. Ariel Manto is an academic who works at a university, and when the collapse of one of the buildings on the campus forces her to leave early, she discovers a copy of an extremely rare book that lies at the heart of her current research. This leads to her entry into the mysterious realm of thought known as the Troposphere – and from there things only get weirder and weirder.
Look, I’m not going to spoil what happens.
Thomas’s writing is focused on the unpacking of concepts related to reality and thought, and the story unfolds gradually – perhaps too gradually for my tastes. Undeniably, this is a good book, which is why I’ll rate it highly, but also with the caveat that it’s not going to be for everyone. If you’re looking for your fantasy to fast-paced and action-packed, then probably best to leave this one on the shelf.
If you’re in the mood for a story that won’t quite go in the directions you expect, and that has surprises at every turn, and if you don’t mind buckling down for a gradual unspooling of the layers, then this one may work for you.