Joseph is a man with a ghostly doppelganger, a Fetch, a soul-collector that is a minion of Death, a shadow that has followed Joseph since he was a boy battling a disease that has now been virtually eradicated from the world. Though Death seems to have marked him as her own, Joseph has escaped her clutches and is now a journalist, chronicling the Winter War in Finland, straying headlong into danger and tempting fate again and again, placing the Fetch in the unique position of defying his mistress but only delaying the inevitable.
Without Joseph, the Fetch does not exist. Without Death, the Fetch has no purpose. The Fetch is the one who follows Joseph, who walks through the valley as Death’s puppet and Joseph’s shadow, but he has become resentful of his purpose and has committed what ought to be the impossible—he loves the one whose soul he is to take. But nothing is fair in love or war, and temptation is poisonous and life is fragile. Fate is fickle. And the Fetch is ultimately committed to do his duty. But…
“This can’t be the end.”
Because death is the ultimate mystery, and who’s to say we get only one chance at life?
I’m not even going to pretend I was able to wrap my wee little brain around this story the first time I read it. The first read through was informative and beautiful, the prose poetic and spare and the setting atmospheric, all at once, but I wasn’t sure I got it the first time through. The second time I read The War at the End of the World, it was to absorb and experience and try to understand it in whatever way I could, for the mythology and mysticism around which the story is woven.
I’m still not sure I “get it”, but it sure is a beautiful tale of the inexplicable and mysterious journey we all eventually take, and it left me saying, “This can’t be the end.”
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