Reviewed by Sheri Harper
End of the Century
by Chris Roberson
2009, ISBN: 978-1-59102-697-6
One of the best parts of End of the Century by Chris Roberson is the fun mix of characters that experience this tale of woven histories based on a lesser known part of the King Arthur fable.
The story takes place during King Arthur’s reign, in the eighteenth century, and modern times. I particularly liked the rich historical details provided by Chris Roberson in End of Century, especially related to life in eighteenth century England and to forensic science as well as literary references to the King Arthur saga. This novel also provides a good equal opportunity collection of characters that range from teen, to elderly and from American, English, Welsh and Chinese that most will find interesting.
Alice Fell is the modern heroine who received a head injury that has caused epileptic seizures in which she sees visions. When her grandmother dies, Alice runs away to London tracking down the first of clues provided in her vision, that of the eye in the sky which turns out to be a ferris wheel. She continues her investigation by refusing to take her medicine and runs into the ravens, The kindly Roxanne and mysterious Still Waters.
A Miss Roxanne Bonaventure also plays a role in the search for the brutal murderer in eighteenth century England. She quite steals the limelight from her partner Sandford Blank who is good at ferreting out clues and has mysterious locked room at the top of a staircase in his flat and an association with the powerful and hidden Omega. His run in with the Chinese crime leader the Ghost Fox provides an interesting subplot.
End of the Century is a fun mix of fantasy and science fiction. The apparent villain, one Huntsman, provides much of the tension in the novel and appears to be the well-known fantasy figure. But by story’s end, the reader will find themselves within a believable world in which alternative universes, time travel, and the solution to the mystery of how all these characters relate, the terrible threat to the universe and the secret behind the Vanishing Crystal.
Almost a page-turner from beginning to end, the few thoughtful slower parts of the novel introduce many answers to this unusual world Chris Roberson has created. Lovers of science fiction and fantasy will both likely enjoy this tale, after all, the mystery times of King Arthur will delight for years to come.
About the reviewer: Sheri Fresonke Harper is a poet and writer. She’s been published in many small journals and is working on her second science fiction novel. See www.sfharper.com