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Publisher's Summary

A hauntingly powerful novel about how the choices we make can stay with us forever, by the award-winning author of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August and 84K.

South Africa in the 1880s. A young and naive English doctor by the name of William Abbey witnesses the lynching of a local boy by the White colonists. As the child dies, his mother curses William.

William begins to understand what the curse means when the shadow of the dead boy starts following him across the world. It never stops, never rests. It can cross oceans and mountains. And if it catches him, the person he loves most in the world will die.

Gripping, moving, and thought-provoking, The Pursuit of William Abbey proves once again that Claire North is one of the most innovative voices in modern fiction.

Previous books by Claire North:

  • The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
  • Touch
  • The Sudden Appearance of Hope
  • The End of the Day
  • 84K
  • The Gameshouse

Previous books written as Kate Griffin: 

Matthew Swift novels:

  • A Madness of Angels
  • The Midnight Mayor
  • The Neon Court
  • The Minority Council

Magicals Anonymous novels:

  • Stray Souls
  • The Glass God
©2019 Claire North (P)2019 Orbit

Critic Reviews

"True love, life, and death, what's worth dying - or killing - for: It's all here in this gripping, bloody, and haunting novel." (Kirkus)

What listeners say about The Pursuit of William Abbey

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

NOTE: Descriptive racist cruelty

Claire North fan, BUT...Character's confession--former-racist callousness--including standing by while child brutalized--was upsetting for me--an African-American listener.

16 people found this helpful

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Intriguing if not totally engrossing

As with all of Claire Norths stories, the premise is totally unique and very thought provoking. At times I really appreciated the cleverness of the plot and the implications of the story’s rules. That said, I found myself just not enjoying the read as much as I have her past books. Perhaps it was the character and his self loathing being hard to relate to, or the narrative cynicism that extends to many of the characters. I just found myself waiting for the story to wrap up for a long time. It’s important to note that the narrator does an absolutely superb job interpreting the text, especially the inner monologue of the protagonist in his moments of frantic truth-speaking. I might not have made it to the end were it not for his incredible performance. Overall a good book but I would start with some of Norths other stories to acquire a taste for her generally excellent writing.

1 person found this helpful

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Fascinating idea

Claire North's ideas continue to impress me. William Abbey is cursed - a shadow spirit's presence follows him around the world. When close, it gives him the power to see the truth of men’s hearts. When it catches him, it will kill those he loves.

Abbey spends most of his life running away from the shadow, working as a spy (government sees a perfect tool in him and his unique skills), becoming a traitor, falling in impossible and dangerous love. His story doesn't lack suspense but it's dense, dark, and bloody.

Parts of the story amazed me, parts of the story bored me. I had to force myself to get through some chapters. North tackles big questions about the nature of truth, love, and questions if we can ever really know one another. I liked it but didn't love it.

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Lyrical as usual, but far too drawn out

North's ornate descriptions grow tedious in this overly drawn out castigation of colonial barbarism and capitalist exploitation. The main character is basically without agency and we spend a lot of time waiting for a denouement that never comes.