The End of the Day is the fourth novel by British author, Claire North. After his interview for a new job as the Harbinger of Death, Charlie was pretty sure he wouldn’t get the job, but apparently, the previous Harbinger thoughts he was suited to it, so he did. Charlie is just an ordinary human. Or perhaps not quite so ordinary: it does take someone a bit special to do this job.
There’s a lot of travel involved, often at very short notice, but the staff in the Office at Milton Keynes make all the arrangements and keep his calendar up to date. And it should be no surprise that Death has an Office: it’s a very busy job and someone needs to keep on top of the schedule. Although it’s murder on relationships, one of the perks of Charlie’s job is getting to hear local music and adding to his collection of losing team football T shirts.
Death comes to everyone and everything eventually, but quite often Charlie comes before. He explains to those he visits that he comes sometimes as a courtesy, sometimes as a warning. He often brings a gift, although he is usually unaware of its significance. He considers it a privilege to honour the living before the end comes. Many he visits are unsurprised; some are angry and try to refuse, but he explains that whether or not Charlie does his job, Death will come.
Now and then, Charlie runs into the other Harbingers (Pestilence, Famine, War), but mostly it’s a fairly solitary job. People often ask him about Death, but his answers usually fail to satisfy, and occasionally provoke a more violent reaction. And just sometimes, Charlie can’t help getting involved, whether or not that is wise.
Once again, North has come up with an original and very imaginative tale that often takes quite unexpected turns and naturally features, given the subject matter, some moments of rather dark humour. North easily captures the feel of the many locations to which Death sends the Harbinger. Some of Charlie’s encounters are bound to uplift, while other interactions, and the undercurrent represented by snippets of conversation and opinion, are definitely thought-provoking. It’s clever and interesting and there’s certainly a Terry Pratchett feel to it all. Another brilliant read that will have fans eager for more from this talented author.