End of the World House by Adrienne Celt is a novel with comic reflections on free will and art as a bridge between friends.
What lines of communication might reveal themselves to us when the world comes to an end? How will we navigate our alternative lives if such lives are rendered possible? Can intimacies survive a separation in time and space?
Such were the questions I found myself asking while reading Adrienne Celt’s fabulous third novel.
Cozy Catastrophe Novel
End of the World House is a cozy catastrophe novel. The near-future world is collapsing, but it’s not yet such a huge deal for our protagonist Bertie. She can move away from unrest and flood zones. Her favorite brand may be out of stock, but supply issues do not yet lead to hunger. In hers and our reality, Bertie and Kate can enjoy pastries in Paris, much to their own surprise.
But not all is well, of course. Celt cleverly brings the menace to light through Bertie’s heaving emotions. Our protagonist appears torn and unstable, asking herself in vain to grow up. She’s jealous of Kate’s brave independence and hurt by her friend’s decision to move away from her, to another city. The tension between them mounts during a visit to the Louvre until Kate goes mysteriously missing.
The friends wake up the next day in their Parisian hotel room on what appears to be the previous day. Bertie’s memories are vague and distorted, yet not so perverted that she understands her timeframe is warped. As in the film Groundhog Day, Bertie lives the same day again and again in a world that is both recognizable and off-balance. Each time she visits the museum with Kate, the adventure is more sinister and threatening. Painted eyes stare at her while live swallows dive through the halls.
End of the World House is a playful, compelling novel about intimacy and free will, about art as a bridge between times and realities. Celt never tries to give us simplified answers, but does leave us with hope. When one world ends, she seems to say, another begins.
Read my full review of this novel in The Sunlight Press.
End of the World House, Adrienne Celt, April 2022, Simon & Schuster
More fiction recommendations? Read my words on
- Chouette by Claire Oshetsky
- Let Our Bodies Be Returned to Us by Lynn Mundell
- The Book of Jeremiah by Julie Zuckerman
- This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone