The Immortals by S. E. Lister

Imagine the joy of finding a bookish gem. Literary content that there has not been any hype about. In a ‘bargains’ box at that local bookstore you go to. Edges already a little bent and spine beginning to break. Imagine carrying it home in your coat pocket, smile on your face, because no matter how good or bad it might be, you saved that book. You  showed it kindness and for that there is only one thing it can give back to you- another new, great adventure. That is the story of how I found ‘The Immortals’ by S. E. Lister and without forestalling too much, it’s the beginning of an infinite love.

This a story of falling through time, of an uncontrollable journey, of lost wanderers. This is the story of Rosa Hyde, of the Immortals.

“The possibilities of their stories were dazzling. […] In the bright, broken light there was something unreal about the four of them, Tommy Rust and Amber Lakshmi, Nate and Harris Black. As though they were figures fixed in a varnished painting, beyond the touch of air or dust. Rosa thought that they looked everlastingly beautiful.”

In order of a trauma in her father’s past Rosa Hyde has never left the year 1945. In all her seventeen years of life her family and her are forced to live through the same year time after time, from beginning to end and over again. For most of those seventeen years, she did not know how that was possible until she escapes, falling through time. But she finds company in Tommy Rust, a man certain that he will will forever, an Immortal, like her. Roaming the millennia they wander, ever admiring the places, wherever the tides might take them.

“She rose, and crossed the room to the wide window. A pair of passers-by were arguing animatedly, the tinkling of piano keys echoing across the cobbles from a nearby café. The sounding of a motorcar horn, an outburst of laughter. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, she lifted her face to the fresh night air. The sky above the city was clear, stars sharp as gems. She remembered when she had looked out over London in the same manner, then flung open her arms and danced with the joy of possibility. At the time no dream had seemed greater than that of keeping her feet on the same ground. How small, how simple-minded the thoughts appeared now.”

But as easily as the tides had brought Tommy and her, and the other Immortals together they fall apart the same, leaving her falling through time all over again.

“[…] perhaps they had already gone their separate ways, four bodies spinning off into space. You could find them if you wanted to, Rosa reminded herself. You will find them again f you only catch the right current, in the right place. There is no call for panic, gypsy girl, much less grief. After all, you never belonged to one another.”

But from that point on something is different. It seems that the tides too are aware of it’s travelers, and that the harder they hold on to anything that is dear to them, the faster it all falls apart and there is nothing they can do.

my thoughts- As you might have been able to tell, I did not expect to like this book as much as I did, but also know, that it is unlike others. The Immortals is not like other time traveling novels, in my eyes. I have always, until The Immortals, thought of something you do willingly, with an automaton or something. The Immortals are either born with the ‘ability’ to travel through millennia or are assigned with it by an Immortal close to them. Whenever a tide takes them, they fall, never knowing where they will arrive, only being able to take with them what they are carrying at that moment. I find the idea of that very fascinating and beyond anything I have yet read on the topic. It feels more real, to me in a way, than all other forms of time traveling, especially because it is so abrupt. But that surely isn’t all. In my opinion The Immortals is another one of those books more about the characters than the plot. The plot is messy and unordered, which is a little disturbing from time to time, but spreads a certain atmosphere and is with that an important part of it. The characters too are all a little strange, but well developed in the context of the plot. What made me love this books so much, you ask yourselves? The writing. As you might have already realized, it’s likely a book gets right to my heart just in order for it’s style. With The Immortals I have found another vastly beautiful collection of words that I will most likely hold dear for the rest of my life. It is a book made for dog-earing pages and underlining sentences. Here is some proof, if you doubt it…

“[…] wished she could look in every direction at once, that each part of the scene was a page in a book she could open, savour, open again.”

“The collection of stars wheeled within his oversized eyes, as though they took in all of the universe, as though he had swallowed it whole.”

“They were sitting out on the balcony in the late afternoon, sipping hot coffee, coats about their shoulders. The autumn sunlight cast a rosy glow over the rooftops and the cobbled street below […]”

“And what do you know. What did you ever know, gypsy girl. That disembodied grin which was once bright with golden promise, wide as a never-ending lifetime.”

…I think that should be it. The last thing I have to say about that book- i you are still looking for a special book for autumn, this should be added to your list. It has some massive autumn vibes, I can’t even say why, but it just seems to be written to be read with rain outside the window, a lit candle and under the warm sheet of a bed. It just feels right. Give it a try (and if you actually do so, tell me all your thoughts!).

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