Book Review: The End of Mr. Y - Scarlett Thomas

Book cover of a swirling vortex of words.Oooh! This is an interesting slice of philosophical fiction. On the surface, it is a fairly standard story about a mysterious Victorian book which contains dark secrets and has since been lost to history. You probably know how it goes; our fearless heroine finds a long-lost copy, unlocks a weird world of intrigue, and is pursued by sinister forces.

But then it hits the philosophy - and hits it hard! A one-two punch of Heidegger and Derrida, taking us on a journey into deconstruction.

The book-within-a-book aspect is nothing new, but neatly done. Similarly, the secret agents chasing a book is derivative of a hundred stories, but here it comes with a fun little twist.

The prose is gorgeous and inventive. There are some beautifully written lines scattered throughout. Two particular favourites of mine were:

A collapsing wavefunction of violence.


Being cursed by The End of Mr. Y must mean becoming part of the book; an intertextual being: a book-cyborg, or, considering that books aren’t cybernetic, perhaps a bibliorg.

You can think of it like The Matrix, but with better philosophy, fewer guns, more metaphysics, and lots more sex. It is a surreal and disorientating journey through the looking-glass.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The End of Mr. Y - Scarlett Thomas”

  1. nicopap says:

    Thanks for the recommendation! Your post made me interested in the book, I read it, and I enjoyed it a lot.

    I think I caught an homage to Pratchett's Small Gods...


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