Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Written by Tim Lebbon
Published by Leisure Books
Most people, on one level or another, believe that there are ghosts in the world. Too many unexplained phenomena go on every day for the average person to carry too much doubt for long. But what would happen if that casual belief in the other side were suddenly transformed into an understanding that ghosts are literally everywhere at all times? Would you be able to maintain any semblance of sanity?
That’s only one of many questions presented in The Everlasting, the latest horror offering from prolific talent Tim Lebbon. Of course, realizing the other side is nearby at all times is really only the least of Scott’s worries, having his wife stolen away and taken into literal limbo by the spirit of his late grandfather’s best friend.
It all starts when Scott receives a letter. The letter is from his grandfather, who’s been dead for 30 years, and is simply addressed to Scotty, a name only his grandfather (whom he called Papa) would use for him. For some reason he knows immediately that reading the letter will change his life forever, but he can’t help himself; curiosity is what keeps us humans moving along, after all.
All the letter contains is what appears to be a map, though it’s written in an arcane language that he has no hope of deciphering. Every time he reads the letter, though, he feels something strange happening to him and remembers more of his time with Papa growing up. He adored his Papa, and together the two of them had many interesting adventures, though some of the stranger things the man would discuss were apparently shut out of Scott’s memory until now.
Upon reciting words he remembers hearing from his grandfather, Scott is given his first glimpse at The Wide, the area between this world and whatever lies beyond it, and is immediately changed forever. His wife is stolen away, and a woman comes to visit him named Nina who claims to be immortal, having been one of the 13 people who learned the secret of the universe and managed to write it all down, only to hide it away because the information it contained would be too much for humanity. Now she just wants to die, having lived longer than Scott would possibly believe, and she needs his help because she’s unable to actually touch the book she helped create, The Chord of Souls.
Author Lebbon’s imagination is in top form with The Everlasting, delving into a world in which there is history that predates man. Scott makes for a good hero of sorts, a slightly overweight man in his forties whose comfortable life is shattered in the blink of an eye, forcing him to accept truths he would have never believed mere days beforehand. He’s also a very sympathetic character because, though he’s forced to see and accept all the strangeness of the world around him, he’s doing it only for the love of his wife, Helen. He’ll go through anything to get her back to him and forget any of this ever happened, which makes him human through and through. He just wants a normal life.
However, this unabashed love of his wife is one of the weak points of The Everlasting as well because though he’s out going through hell looking for her, we’re never really given a very clear picture of their relationship outside of his feelings for her. We know they’re comfortable with one another and their life together, but their history together is barely explored, which wouldn’t have been as much of an issue if it weren’t for the fact that Scott brings her up over and over again throughout the story.
Instead we’re given a glimpse at the history of Scott with his Papa, a man who always believed there was much more to life than what could be seen around us, even though in the end the truth damned him for decades. At first Papa seems like a eccentric old man with too much time on his hands, but as the book progresses, we’re given a very clear picture of a man who loved to explore and learn and wanted to share it all with his grandson, never understanding the inherent danger such knowledge would put Scott in later in life.
The Everlasting is another great addition to Lebbon’s growing library of must-read books, minor flaws notwithstanding. The man possess an almost unrelenting imagination that continues to take readers to places they never expected, which makes every story fast-paced, character driven and fascinating. Get it!
4 out of 5
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