One of our recommended books is The God of Endings by Jacqueline Holland


By turns suspenseful and enchanting, this breathtaking first novel weaves a story of love, family, history, and myth as seen through the eyes of one immortal woman.

Collette LeSange is a lonely artist who heads an elite fine arts school for children in upstate New York. Her youthful beauty masks the dark truth of her life: she has endured centuries of turmoil and heartache in the wake of her grandfather’s long-ago decision to make her immortal like himself. Now in 1984, Collette finds her life upended by the arrival of a gifted child from a troubled home, the return of a stalking presence from her past,

more …

By turns suspenseful and enchanting, this breathtaking first novel weaves a story of love, family, history, and myth as seen through the eyes of one immortal woman.

Collette LeSange is a lonely artist who heads an elite fine arts school for children in upstate New York. Her youthful beauty masks the dark truth of her life: she has endured centuries of turmoil and heartache in the wake of her grandfather’s long-ago decision to make her immortal like himself. Now in 1984, Collette finds her life upended by the arrival of a gifted child from a troubled home, the return of a stalking presence from her past, and her own mysteriously growing hunger.

Combining brilliant prose with breathtaking suspense, Jacqueline Holland’s The God of Endings serves as a larger exploration of the human condition in all its complexity, asking us the most fundamental question: is life in this world a gift or a curse.

less …
  • Flatiron Books
  • Hardcover
  • March 2023
  • 480 Pages
  • 9781250856760

Buy the Book

$29.99 indies Bookstore

About Jacqueline Holland

Jacqueline Holland is the author of The God of EndingsJacqueline Holland holds an MFA from the University of Kansas. Her work has appeared in Hotel Amerika and Big Fiction magazine, among others. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband and two sons. The God of Endings is her first novel.


A Most Anticipated Book of 2023 by LitHub, Polygon, Library Journal, and more!

“A reflective and poetic take on the nature of immortality… Holland’s refreshing vampires lean philosophical as they struggle with immense grief and loneliness.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Through decadently vivid prose… this hefty novel meditates on major themes such as life, love, and death with exceptional acumen. A new and contemplative take on the vampire novel.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Atmospheric prose and excellent character development. Great for fans of Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire and V. E. Schwab’s The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.” —Library Journal

“Sweeping and evocative, this novel is a beautiful journey through the centuries of a wholly unique life. It explores the savagery of loss and grief and the paradoxical fragility and endurance of love. It raises powerful and thought-provoking questions about motherhood, and how to live, and the ending will stay with me for a long time in the best possible way.” —Jennifer Saint, author of Elektra and Ariadne

“Holland’s lush prose welcomes the reader into a new kind of vampire story, and the result is a surprising and spellbinding tale of struggle and love and protection that leaves you wondering who the real monsters are.” —Laura Moriarty, New York Times bestselling author of The Chaperone

The God of Endings is propulsive, a compelling rumination on what makes a life worth living. Spanning centuries and continents, an immortal narrator grapples with her own humanity—or lack thereof—in this dazzling debut.” —Lily Brooks-Dalton, author of Good Morning, Midnight

Discussion Questions

1. Would you rather die and be forgotten or live forever by feeding on the living?

2. Should you stay away from loving mortals to avoid grief or pass on the curse of eternal life so you can keep loving them?

3. What types of “seasons of endings” arrive in human lives? Does Collette handle them better, worse, or the same as mortals?

4. In what ways were these vampire characters consistent with past examples in literature and film? In what ways were they different? Which do you prefer?

5. Most of the characters in the story are artists and/or poets. Why is this a common theme?

6. Czernobog and Belobog are referenced in the story with Czernobog more often. What are the impressions of Czernobog present more in the story? When Belobog is introduced, how does that change Colette?

7. What is the purpose of Collette’s blackouts?

8. Children are woven in prominently throughout the story and Collette’s life. Why do you think this is? How does this impact her journey over time?

9. Anna’s lives are full of grief and loss. What do you think keeps her going? Does she have any expectations for herself?

10. What argument does this book make about isolation versus community?




When I was a child, the dead were all around us. Cemeteries were not common in the early years of the 1830s. Instead, small, shambling family graveyards butted up against barns, or sprung up like pale mush- rooms at the edges of pastures, in the yards of church, and school, and meetinghouse—until eventually you could look out across the village, see all those gravestones like crooked teeth in a mouth, and wonder who the place really belonged to, the huddled and transient living or the persistent dead?

Many folks found this proximity to death and its souvenirs discomfiting, but my father was the first gravestone carver in the village of Stratton, New York, which meant that the distillation of death and grief into beauty was our family business. Death, to me, was tied inextricably to cherished things: to craftsmanship and poetry, to my father and to the beautiful things he made, and I couldn’t help but feel some tenderness for all of it. Even all these years later, I can still see those gravestones vividly. Drizzle-gray slabs of slate, smoothly planed and cool to the touch; grainy sandstone in its striated shades of red and brown and buttercream; soapstone soft enough to etch with a thumbnail, yet somehow able to resist the assaults of time and the elements; letters and symbols, crosses and cherub wings, and forlorn-looking skulls chiseled delicately into the surfaces; beveled edges smooth and sharp beneath the pads of my small, inquiring fingers.

Like the works of his hands, my father also remains vivid. When I remember him, he is working, always working, at his craft. His eyes and hands search a great heft of rock for its secret seams, and then, with wedge and mallet, he splits it open as one might split an orange. With great fo- cus, he hammers at his chisels, patiently lifting away slow, stubborn rib- bons of schist like potato peels to carve the rounded tympanums. With pick and file, he etches and sands and then blows the glittering mica dust into the air. Noticing me, his watchful daughter standing in the doorway, he looks up and smiles, but his hands are ever diligent; they glide along surfaces, feeling their progress.

When I was very young, I would go about with bits of stone in my mouth, enjoying the feel of the rough grain against my tongue. I have few memories of my mother, who died giving birth to a baby who died with her, but one of the memories I have is the sudden indignity of her finger in my mouth, swiveling roughly, fishing a piece of rock from it. Then she too became a gravestone: creamy yellow, reticulated by thread-thin veins of iron, embellished along the side panels with fine scrolls and rosettes, and with a centerpiece inscribed “Loving Mother,” all of which I remember in greater detail than I remember her.

I am fond of those memories of my father, his shop, his gravestones, but they are tied to other, darker memories, and the mind, that imbecilic machine of associations, moves irresistibly from one to another, and before I can stop it, I am seeing myself and my brother, Eli, in a different shop, the smith’s forge. I’m ten years old, my brother fourteen, the age of each of our deaths, and we’re surrounded by our grim-faced neighbors who, out of the firm conviction that it will cure us of our afflictions, are forcing us to swallow the ashy remains of our father’s burned corpse.

The fact is that I was a child at a hideous time, when the terror of death suffused all of life and against it people had little recourse besides their own dark imaginations. More than a hundred years had passed since the Salem Witch Trials, and still the habit persisted of encapsulating what was feared in stories. Stories, after all, have boundaries, and fear needs nothing more desperately than boundaries. Thus, a crop failure or injury might be construed as the work of demons, or the fruit of some unholy pact with the Devil, or punishment for one’s own un- confessed sin. This was why when the wasting death—what is today called tuberculosis—came to our town, it arrived wrapped in a shroud of stories that were passed, like the disease itself, from hand to hand until they had both spread to nearly every town and village along the Eastern Seaboard.

The restless dead, it was whispered, were crawling up out of their graves at night and preying upon their own family members, dragging them down ounce by bloody ounce into the graves beside their own. This explained why entire families would crumble, one by one—strong, vigorous men and women watching their flesh fall suddenly away, their eyes receding into their skulls, the coughing and the blood. Who could blame people at a time when nothing at all was known about bacteria or the virulent microscopic droplets that sprayed forth from a sick person’s cough, for seeing a perverse and ungodly malevolence at work—pattern, design, intentionality—in an entire family’s slow, hideous demise?

This narrative of the malicious dead not only offered an explanation, it also suggested action that might be taken to stop what seemed unstoppable: if the dead were not quite dead enough, then the solution perhaps was to dig them up and put them more conclusively to rest. Exhumations began. When the second wife of the cooper fell ill, the deceased and famously jealous first wife was dug up for interrogation. On it went from there. Coffins were pried open, corpses examined, their appearances quarreled over. Why did the Wesley daughter, dead from scarlet fever in the early winter, look as though she’d been buried only the week before? Never mind that winter was only just relenting, and the girl was probably coming out of months of deep freeze, her flesh rosy with thaw. Why take chances?

People who knew, people with close ties to Europe and its intricate lore—young brides recently arrived from Häggenås and Blåberg, a grandfather from Lovön, a nephew from Bistritz—advised the rest on the best course of action.

“Break the arms and legs to keep them from crawling about in the dark.”

When one measure failed to stop the descent of the living toward death, a new measure would be offered.

“Carve out the heart and examine it for the fresh blood of its victims, then you’ll know for certain.”

Then, “What use is certainty and how can it ever be had when you’re dealing with the unnatural, the unholy? Cut off the head, and that will be that. To be safe, burn the heart as well. Then have all the remaining family members eat the ashes. Make the bodies of the living inhospitable, from the inside out, to the demonic.”

My father, the gravestone carver, had spent his life helping folks make peace with death and he regarded this war with abhorrence, insisting at every opportunity in his gentle but stubborn way that our dearly departed bore no responsibility for the afflictions of the living and that fouling their bodies was a sin and an abomination. He may have persuaded some, but those who opposed him were louder, and when he too began to cough, I saw an ugly satisfaction in the eyes of those he’d reproved.

Deacon Whilt was one of these. The man, who had appointed him- self commander in the war against the undead, and who took officious pleasure in bearing the arms of holy water and crucifix to the exhumations, came one day to my father’s shop. He ambled about, picking up chisels to squint at their varied ends and knocking his head on the iron tools that hung by hooks from the ceiling.

“Word has it,” he said, massaging the back of his skull where it had encountered the long metal handle of an adze, “they found a ghastly one over in Plattsburgh. Fat as a tick on a mule. Blood all over the creature’s hellish mouth. They pierced the stomach and hot blood poured out for near an hour.”

“And you believed this?” my father asked between hammer blows.

My brother, beside him, had paused at his work and was listening, open-mouthed and horrified, but a stern glance from my father flushed his cheeks and set him back to work.

The deacon frowned down at a smear of dust that had marred his black cassock and, taking out a handkerchief, began to sweep it off with controlled violence. “And what would you have me believe? That it is all mere coincidence? Six families in the next township, nine in our own, falling like a child’s arrangement of dominoes—by chance?”

My father did not answer, and the deacon sidled up beside the stone my father labored over.

“Such lovely religious sentiments on your gravestones, Isaac, and yet their maker seems to deny the active influence of the supernatural in the affairs of this world. I might almost imagine you lacked a godly dread of the Devil and his works.”

“Or imagine instead that I possess trust enough in God to drive out fear of a multitude of devils—real or imagined.”

My father might have said more, but a cough welled up from deep inside his chest. He tried to hold it back, but finally could not and lifted his smock to hide the fit until it passed.

The deacon watched my father, his expression softening in a way that disturbed me more than his previous hostility.

“Your apron, Isaac,” he said when my father had finished. “There’s blood on it.”

My father turned back to his work.

“Would that you might turn from your stubborn unbelief,” Deacon Whilt went on, “which gives the demons free entry. We’ve lost half of our men already. Half again are as ill as yourself. At this rate, the village won’t survive the winter. We need you well, and Eli too. We cannot afford to lose any more. Not one more.”

He went to the window and gazed out at the two distant graves perched atop a hill and silhouetted against the pink blaze of the setting sun. My mother and baby sister.

“It is a vile business. On that we are agreed, but then the powers of hell are vile. We do what we must, not because it is pleasant, but because it must be done. You will have to dig them up.”

“No,” my father answered without pause or glance. “Never.”

The deacon turned and let forth a sigh of great weariness, then made his way to the door. When he noticed me standing nearby, he put a damp hand of blessing on my forehead, which I struggled to endure without scowling or drawing away.

“I do hope you reconsider, Isaac,” the man said without turning. “You’ll all die otherwise.”