SE Lister – The Immortals
Strong writing let down by an overly-familiar premise
The concept of time travel is hardly unique in literature, with numerous cult novels exploring it (The Time Traveller's Wife and Outlander for two). SE Lister's The Immortals, while interesting, does not particularly distinguish itself from other works on the subject, exploring the same themes witnessed time and again: identity, the notion of belonging, and the importance of a time period's culture.
When we meet protagonist Rosa, she is frustrated that she cannot leave 1945, and Lister succeeds in portraying her exasperation, painting a vivid picture of the war and victory. Things soon change, however, and along with 'time-gypsy' Tommy, Rosa cannot seem to stay in a single period long enough to call it home – that is, until she meets soldier Harding, who, it's hoped, will be the key to Rosa staying put.
As an adventure story, The Immortals works well. Lister has created a fast-paced plot filled with strong characters and witty, energetic dialogue. Her style is charming, but the problem here is in the premise: everything feels familiar, and like Rosa, it leaves you wanting to be taken somewhere entirely new.
Out Thu 17 Sep, from Old Street Publishing.