As an epilogist, Ben Mendelssohn appreciates an unexpected ending. But when that denouement is the untimely demise of his beloved wife, Ben is incapable of coping. Marian was more than his life partner; she was the fiber that held together all that he is. And Ben is willing to do anything, even enter the unknown beyond, if it means a chance to be with her again.
One bullet to the brain later, Ben is in the Other World, where he discovers a vast and curiously secular existence utterly unlike anything he could have imagined: a realm of sprawling cities where the deceased of every age live an eternal second life, and where forests of family trees are tended by mysterious humans who never lived in the previous world. But Ben cannot find Marian.
Desperate for a reunion, he enlists an unconventional afterlife investigator to track her down, little knowing that his search is entangled in events that continue to unfold in the world of the living. It is a search that confronts Ben with one heart-rending shock after another; with the best and worst of human nature; with the resilience and fragility of love; and with truths that will haunt him through eternity.
Some fifteen months after Marian lost her life under bizarre aeronautical circumstances, her husband decided to celebrate her fortieth birthday. Their old friends, well aware of the couple’s love for one another, were not surprised to find, amid the daily monotony of their mail, an invitation to the home of the live husband and the late wife. They also knew that he had yet to have his final word on the matter, and that, beneath the emotional prattle and the love-soaked murmurs, Ben Mendelssohn was a man of action. His friends, put at ease
“A weird and effective blend of adventure/fantasy, whodunit and romance…. Simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking, handled with sublime assurance, astonishingly inventive, funny and totally fascinating.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Poignant and funny...part romance, part mystery, and part science fantasy…. Gafla creates an interconnected puzzle of living and dead characters and their stories that will shock, amuse, and illuminate the nature of humans and their inevitable end.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Lyrical and flowing. Gafla creates a rich world of networked characters, both living and dead, and explores how human nature plays a role even in death.”
—RT Book Reviews, 4 1/2 stars
“Broad themes of life, death, and afterlife, coupled with satiric touches on modern existence and the meaning of religion, make this a major example of literary speculative fiction at its best, with an appeal that crosses genres into mainstream fiction.”
“The infrastructure of the Other World alone is enough to justify picking this book up, and the cast of characters, Ben’s heartening but occasionally frustrating confidence, and a story concluded in an open-ended but ultimately satisfying manner make the reading experience a pleasure.”
“Stunning writing, hilarious, and brilliantly translated!”
—Ellen Kushner, World Fantasy Award-winning author of Thomas the Rhymer
“I've seldom read a book so strange and so assured. Gafla's vivid characters, his matter-of-fact underworld, and his mysteriously interconnected mortal universe confront readers with the awkwardness, desperation, and humor of life and its many endings.”
—Max Gladstone, author of Three Parts Dead
“The World of the End is a refreshing, original, and particularly, impressive work... The writer displays virtuosity in moving from a film-noir kind of novel to dealing with metaphysical issues regarding post-mortem life, then returning to an adventure story incorporating innumerable motifs from the world of science fiction. His most prominent ability is the philosophical depth he achieves without being over-smart or getting lost.”
—Time Out (Israel)