Book Review: Inexpressible Island by Paullina Simons

Inexpressible Island (End of Forever saga – book 3)…

About the Book:

They were ready for anything … except the end. The must-read conclusion to the epic End of Forever saga by Paullina Simons.
Julian has lost everything he ever loved and is almost out of time. His life and death struggle against fate offers him one last chance to do the impossible and save the woman to whom he is permanently bound.

Together, Julian and Josephine must wage war against the relentless dark force that threatens to destroy them. This fight will take everything they have and everything they are as they try once more to give each other their unfinished lives back.

As time runs out for the star-crossed lovers, Julian learns that fate has one last cruel trick in store for them – and that even a man who has lost everything still has something left to lose.

Following on from the heartbreaking The Tiger Catcher and A Beggar’s Kingdom, Inexpressible Island is the unmissable conclusion to the epic End of Forever saga.

My Thoughts:

Paullina Simons brings new meaning to deja-vu and six degrees of separation. I can’t even begin to fully describe these novels for fear of spoiling them for you, and believe me when I say, you do not want them spoiled. If you see any reviews that say, ‘this contains spoilers’, keep scrolling because if you ever intend to read these books, don’t go into them knowing what’s going to happen. Even though this review is for Inexpressible Island, much of the discussion will be referring to the series as a whole. When gathering my thoughts on this novel, I found it really difficult to separate it from its two predecessors.

These three books that make up the End of Forever saga were released this year, with only a few months between each, but they took Paullina Simons five years to write and bring to publication. I felt right from the moment I began to read the second instalment that these books didn’t read like a normal series where one book ends and the next one begins. They read more like one long epic 1000+ page story that has after the fact been split at the most precisely timed perfect place for the greatest impact within the story. This goes in some way to explain the varying lengths of each book. If you consider most commercial series nowadays, they are very prescribed in terms of length, with each book being pretty much the same page count. The first book was reasonably long, the second was huge, and the third was probably the shortest, but each book covered exactly what it needed to. The effect of this on reader enjoyment of the overall saga cannot be overstated.

Now, onto this book, Inexpressible Island. It was almost like two stories within the one novel. The very first story was incredible, I loved this period of history that Julian travelled back to and for the first time, I genuinely liked the version of Mia that he met. I also adored ‘the gang’, each and every one of them. This was probably by far my favourite time jump and I was really sad to see its particular end, but then of course, the story moved into a whole new territory that I never even saw coming, so before I could mourn the loss (again) I got caught up in the next big ‘thing’. Paullina Simons is pretty much untouchable in terms of her imagination and the places she takes us within this saga. I know I keep saying it, but I really love the way she writes. It’s distinctly different, a style I’ve seen evidence of in her previous books. It’s no one thing, and it’s really hard to describe, unless you’ve read one of her books before and know exactly what I mean. I felt that the tone, wit, snappy dialogue, poetic narrative, and sharp plot turns within this series mimicked The Girl in Times Square. Totally different stories, but if you were given each with the author name removed, you’d be able to tell that they were written by the same person. Shades of brilliance and I feel like I’m raving, but this series (and author) deserves it.

‘You do what you can, even when you fear it’s hopeless. You will probably fail, yes, but you don’t give up. That’s what love is. That’s what faith is. You suffer to live, you struggle to help them. You never surrender. That’s the part I didn’t understand until now – that that was the only true thing I had to give her, from the very beginning. Nothing else. Just myself at her feet.’

If anyone reading this is a fan of Paullina Simons but has been reluctant to pick these books up because of the time travel aspect, reconsider! They are speculative fiction, but the speculative parts are done really well, you don’t need to be a fan of fantasy or science fiction per se to be able to get into them. I think that nowadays magical realism seems to be crossing over into other genres and I know myself, that I am more open to these themes now than I would have been ten years ago. I feel these books are very accessible to all sorts of readers, but you do have to really put some time and effort into reading them. You can’t skim them because Paullina weaves so many details into the fabric of each book, things that seem inconsequential until you realise its importance further down the track. You’ll find this especially in the third book, Inexpressible Island. There were things that happened in book one and two that all of a sudden made sense in the third. It’s those moments of serendipity that give so much back to the reader. When you’ve committed to reading a series, it’s that continuation of the story across all of the books that makes the time and effort so worthwhile. This whole idea of a series where books can be read as a standalone makes no sense to me. That’s not a series. A series should be something where the story is so connected that if you don’t read each book carefully you’re going to miss out and that’s what you get with the End of Forever saga. I read the first book several months ago, but I’ve read the second and third back to back. If you’re going to tackle these, I would say read all three one after the other. It’s just going to be like reading one massive novel and you’re going to love it all the more. It also means that you won’t forget some of those key moments that happen early on that you only get insight into later on. The whole thing will have a lot more impact. And you’ll appreciate the cleverness of this story all the more as well.

‘The tension had fled his body. While he had been doing his own thing, panicking, fretting, dreading the worst, the universe was doing its own thing, loading the dice, dealing the cards, breaking the crystal quartz. Relief flooded him, and joy.’

So as to the ending, which I’m obviously not going to spoil for you, but which I really loved. It was one of those endings that you can say is ‘unforgettable’, the way in which you see everything falling into place and everything at last making perfect sense. I can’t recommend this series highly enough. It’s summertime here in Australia, so some of you might have a bit of time off work, some time to kick back and devote yourself to reading something that you can really get into and lose yourself in. I would highly recommend this series as the perfect candidate for your holiday reading.


About the Author:

Paullina Simons was born in Leningrad in 1963. As a child she emigrated to Queens, New York, and attended colleges in Long Island. Then she moved to England and attended Essex University, before returning to America. She lives in New York with her husband and children.

Inexpressible Island
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Australia
Released November 2019

6 thoughts on “Book Review: Inexpressible Island by Paullina Simons

  1. I do love everything that Paullina writes and this is not the exception. She’s superb in the End of Forever trilogy and makes you feel all kinds of happiness and pain. Truly epic. I’m so sad it is over.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have loved so many of Paullina’s books but the last few I have read…not so much. I do have the first two books in this trilogy here to read one day. Maybe it will be a return to the writing I loved for so long

    Liked by 1 person

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