The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
by Claire North
(2014) Redhook, 405 pages
Written by Claire North, who is actually Catherine Webb, who turns out to be Kate Griffin, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August quite frankly is one of the most engaging books I have read in years. If you are a fan of Sci-Fi/Fantasy books that deal in parallel worlds, time travel, intrigue, history and philosophy, I would suggest that you read this book toot suite.
The premise is genius; think Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, but rather than living one day over and over, Harry August, as well as thousands of others, live their whole lives repeatedly. Once discovered by other kalachakras or Ouroborans (what they call themselves), they are brought into the auspices of the Cronus Club, an organization of kalachakras which care for the newly born, and monitor the activities of its elite members. As a rule, the Cronus Club endeavors to ensure that Kalachakras do not meddle in the affairs of the world, which would change historical outcomes, going so far as to destroy those who do while in the womb, thus ending their existence for good.
The plot thickens as one particular man, who goes by many names over his lives, has shunned the Cronus Clubs across the globe, begins leaking scientific and technological breakthroughs from the 80s and 90s to scientists and inventors of the 50s and 60s, therefore changing the landscape of the mid-20th century, creating an alternate historical timeline which has sped up the end of the world, as the messages from 21st century Kalachakras being passed backwards in time have warned. What takes place from this point on is a cat and mouse game played over centuries and several parallel worlds.
The alternate historical timelines, philosophical discourse dealing in parallel worlds, combined with an intriguing story make the First Fifteen Lives of Harry August one of the most exciting books of the last decade in my opinion. The ending will leave you breathless to say the least. Claire North (or whatever name she may write under) is an author that may be remembered as one of the world’s great writers 200 years from now, but if you are Ouroboran, you already know this.