REVIEW: Time’s Fool by Alys Earl

I received a review copy of this book through Netgalley; all opinions are my own and honest.

Summary: Autumn in the market City of Barchester, and two bright students begin their final year at University, content with old friendships, paying lip-service to old dreams. Until, that is, an ill-conceived prank introduces them to Julian.

For Sophia and Steven, the friendship they form with this worldly stranger marks a coming of age, a possibility to embrace the needs and longings they have never had the language to express. But Julian has his own secrets, and as the nights grow longer, it becomes clear that not all desires are without cost; that some things should never be brought into the light.

Time’s Fool is a novel about monstrosity, about desire and communication. It’s about the self we present to the world and the needs we whisper to ourselves in the darkness. It is about honesty and the fear of honesty. It is about the things we refuse – refuse to say, refuse to seek, refuse to believe – because sometimes, ignoring those things is all that keeps us sane.

Genre(s): New Adult, Supernatural, Romance
Representation: gay primary character, bisexual/pansexual primary character, M/M relationship
Content warnings: blood, mild sexual content, dubious consent, major character death

Publisher: Unbound Digital
Publication date: January 14, 2019 
Book links*: Goodreads | Book Depository

*These include affiliate links, which means that if you click through and buy a book I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. [Full disclaimers here.]


4 stars

This hooked me from the start, with the opening scene where Steven is being obnoxious and philosophical. College students having pretentious but passionate debates about their area of study? Sign me up. (And it’s a recurring theme throughout the novel, which I found delightful!) There’s geeking out and bullshitting your way out of the corner you’ve talked yourself into, and genuine contemplation on the nature of life and love and what have you.

The second great strength of this was the interpersonal relationships which made the aforementioned arguments enjoyable and made the plot in general work. I love the mix of banter and tender moments between Steven, Sophia, and Lucy — even the romantic entanglements worked for me, for the most part — a bond which not even Julian or John could derail. I also loved how matter-of-factly character’s non-heterosexuality is presented, and that it generally subverts stereotypes and tropes. My one concern in this area is that the limited representation leads to some potentially thorny issues which probably could’ve been avoided by just making more characters gay/bi/pan, but considering the already limited primary cast, it’s a relatively minor quibble.

The writing itself was terrific. Enough details to picture the scene, but not so many that it bogged down the action; and each of the POV characters was distinct. The narrative didn’t hinge on big reveals and instead was upfront about what was going on, which was refreshing since I’ve guessed all the twists I’ve come across lately and been underwhelmed by the subsequent lack of tension. I did cringe a little at the sexual parts (nothing overtly explicit, but dancing around the boundary of PG-13), though I’m not sure there would’ve been a non-cringey way to convey some of these scenes.

What didn’t work so well for me was the ending. It seemed a little abrupt, especially the fairly cliched ending which was pretty disappointing considering all the great buildup, and the reason I very nearly took another half off my rating.

All in all, this is a fascinating modern homage to Dracula, Frankenstein, and other scifi/paranormal/Gothic classics, well-told with charismatic characters and an exciting plot.

8 thoughts on “REVIEW: Time’s Fool by Alys Earl

  1. Well…I AM INTRIGUED. I don’t usually waddle to reviews to read them but the cover caught my eye, and I figured this post deserved some love anyway. I’m so down for anything paranormal/supernatural though and this sounds decent peers at book warily even if the ending did nearly knock off another star…waddles to goodreads to snoop on the book

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent review, and I am also a sucker for college kids waxing philosophical dilemmas. I guess I relate to that because I experienced such an intellectual awakening when I finally “got” Nietzsche and wound up focusing on theory. This sounds like such an intriguing story, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. college kids thinking they’re experts on a topic is such a mood for me, so yes I absolutely adored that just as much as I adored AP Lang (though it made my brain hurt tbh) – we didn’t really end up doing Nietzsche, for some reason, so all I know about him is “nihilism” 😂 but yeah if you like pretentious collegiate debates, you’ll at least enjoy that part of this book!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am glad this one manages to pay some homage to the classics 🙂 I love Frankenstein and Dracula. I don’t think that this is going to be one for me though? I’ve read The Secret History and also The Fault in Our Stars where you have those very smart and also passionate characters but I tend to dislike them for some reason 😛 I am glad you could love it ^.^

    Liked by 1 person

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