Bertie is a semi-failed cartoonist, working for a Silicon Valley tech firm. Her job depresses her, but not as much as the fact that Kate has recently decided to move from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Bertie suggests a trip to Paris that will hopefully distract the duo from their upcoming separation. The vacation is also a sort of last hurrah, coming during a ceasefire in a series of escalating world conflicts. One night in Paris, they meet a strange man in a bar who offers them a private tour of the Louvre. The women find themselves alone in the museum, where nothing is quite as it seems.
Celt delivers an apocalyptic mindset without sinking too deeply into despair. Through her characters’ devotion to one another, across different timelines, she leads her readers through a world that is always on the edge of ending ... Celt writes Bertie with such earnest detail and depth that her love for Kate truly does feel like a force large enough to keep the apocalypse at bay. Part of why this love feels true is because the world around it feels true, even as it’s falling apart ... Throughout End of the World House, there’s a sense of something wrong in the periphery. Celt’s prose is light, at times unnervingly buoyant as it dips in and out of Bertie’s trauma ... a post-apocalyptic novel that holds the persistence of the everyday. It’s a book that offers a deep look into coping with loss, endings, and change, but most of all, it offers a deep look into Bertie’s character and allows the audience to live with her through a myriad of different lives, through the ending of so many worlds.
Adrienne Celt’s new novel, End of the World House, could be elevator-pitched as Groundhog Day at the apocalypse ... In addition to the apocalyptic backdrop, Celt adds a few new wrinkles to the time-loop plot ... The novel aims to examine the nuances of Bertie’s complex friendship with Kate, spending a good number of pages on their past together. But since the narration hews close to Bertie’s point of view, the reader doesn’t get Kate’s side of the story. This functions better in some places than others ... Stories with fantastical conceits at their center must decide how much time to spend on their characters figuring out what’s happening. This decision becomes particularly important when the premise functions as a metaphor, as time-loop narratives almost inevitably do ... Celt is a smart, convincing novelist, and her ambitious tweaks of the concept are fascinating and fun to grapple with. But the novel works best when it foregrounds the dynamic between Kate and Bertie as they navigate the loss of a friendship, the kind of pain that can feel like the end of the world.
... taut and tightly-told ... I’ll be honest – I wasn’t sure how I was going to engage with this book. As I said, I’m a fan of time loops, but I’ve been burned too many times. Not an issue here, as it turns out; Celt does a masterful job of navigating the complexities of time shifting. She manages to make each new day into both its own thing and a meditation on the days that have gone before. Unspooling this kind of narrative demands a delicate touch – and Celt proves more than capable of the requisite delicacy ... The joy here is the puzzle-piece complexity of the narrative. Celt has taken the standard time loop trope and given it a tweak; we get the same day over and over again, with the major pieces remaining the same, but with loads of wiggle room in the details. That flexibility gives the reader a sense of constantly being ever-so-slightly off-balance, leaving us all the more invested in engaging with every new bit of information ... Love can evolve when given a chance, just like anything else. End of the World House finds a way to give love the necessary space for that evolution – all within the same singular time period. It is a deft and intricate novel, woven together so neatly and tightly that one can’t see the seams, no matter how hard one strains ... Exploring the ways in which relationships can change and grow is pretty standard stuff for literature. Using the same day for those myriad explorations is something else entirely. And that’s what Adrienne Celt does with End of the World House. Starting over, starting again, starting anew – it’s all here. And here. And here