Published: 23 March 2023
Author: Louise Swanson
Published by: Hodder & Stoughton
Length: 320 pages
Reading dates: 10-14 March 2023
Too much imagination can be a dangerous thing.
It has been five years since writing fiction was banned by the government.
Fern Dostoy is a criminal. Officially, she has retrained in a new job outside of the arts but she still scrawls in a secret notepad in an effort to capture what her life has become: her work on a banned phone line, reading bedtime stories to sleep-starved children; Hunter, the young boy who calls her and has captured her heart; and the dreaded visits from government officials.
But as Fern begins to learn more about Hunter, doubts begin to surface. What are they both hiding?
And who can be trusted?
The year is 2035 and Fern Dostoy is a scared and desperate woman. In her old life she was a bestselling author, one that had won awards for her books. But just after the success of her last book, Technological Amazingness, things changed. A law was brought in that banned fiction books – fiction was removed from the shops and libraries, people were made to destroy the books in their homes and even fictional TV programmes and films were banned. The only books available for sale are non-fiction. Children are not able to to hear stories from their parents or in school and because of this, they can’t sleep and are having to be medicated.
Fern was told she had to stop writing. She was moved to a new home and had to take on a new identity, working as a cleaner in a hospital. She sees hardly anyone – her husband has died and she was unable to have children and she can’t trust anyone. She has regular visits from two men who check she is still following the rules but despite this she has decided to keep a handwritten diary, talking about what is happening to her now and also explaining how the world came to be like this.
I was lucky enough to be invited to an event in London to meet some of Hodder’s top suspense authors and was thrilled to chat to Louise Swanson and hear about End of Story which sounded exactly like my sort of book – I love dystopian fiction and I was excited to read it.
Isn’t it a nightmare scenario? The removal of fiction and books from our lives would be devastating to me. Books are how I escape from real life – they teach me things and I have to read before I sleep or I can’t drop off. Poor Fern is in a sorry state and her diary reflects this. There were some parts which I found odd to start with but without giving too much away, the book does resolve these issues. I loved the “Bedtime Stories” initiative set up where children can ring a secret number and be read bedtime stories by a group of volunteers.
As with books that introduce an extreme scenario, it is difficult to imagine how society can get to this point and it is utterly terrifying! I really enjoyed End of Story – each diary entry left me wanting more and the story is very clever. For fans of dystopian fiction, this is a must read.
With thanks to Hodder Books for my proof copy.
About the author
Louise Swanson’s debut End of Story arrives in March 2023. She wrote the book during the final lockdown of 2020, following a family tragedy, finding refuge in the fiction she created. The themes of the book – grief, isolation, love of the arts, the power of storytelling – came from a very real place. Swanson, a mother of two who lives in East Yorkshire with her husband, regularly blogs, talks at events, and is a huge advocate of openly discussing mental health and suicide.
She also writes as Louise Beech. Beech’s eight books have won the Best magazine Book of the Year 2019, shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year, longlisted for the Polari Prize, and been a Clare Mackintosh Book Club Pick. Her memoir, Daffodils, was released in audiobook in 2022, and the paperback version, Eighteen Seconds, will be out April 2023.
What a horrific situation that would be
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Fab review! I’m glad End Of Story was a good one for you as well! The event sounds lovely!
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