On the Threshold

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On the Threshold is one of those rare books that almost wholly defy categorization. Part science fiction, part unrequited romantic drama; this novel reads like something out of a hazy fever dream. It begins in 1907 with a slightly mad Scotsman named Fingal who, in his quest to prove Plato’s philosophy of Innatism, builds a machine that severs the truth of inborn knowledge from his own mortal soul. The fiery entity then flees from Fingal, eventually causing the self-immolation of almost everyone it encounters. The majority of the story concerns Fingal’s determination to find his fiery counterpart and force it back into himself using the very same machine that tore them apart in the first place with the help of a cinema-obsessed and intellectually driven American woman named Jean. With a meandering storyline spanning nearly six decades, and a nearly global setting; the slow-burn quality of the plot is only enhanced by the addition of shifting social and cultural attitudes along with the aging dispositions of the main characters. Filled with Jungian archetypes and Freudian symbolism (and an awful lot of cats) On the Threshold reads more like a genre-bending epic poem than a straightforward novel. Laszlo’s writing style is imaginative and lush, creating heavily detailed moments of somber introspection for the main characters in what almost read as scenes from a dramatic play and then wholly throwing them into the deep end of some fantastical science that somehow makes complete sense in juxtaposition. I really enjoyed the author’s playful sense of self-awareness while serving up some of the more out-there events woven throughout the plot by relating them through the lens of the character’s inner monologues. It almost comes across as absurdist fiction, but there’s such a thread of fierce hopefulness running through Jean and Fingal that reads as anything but existential that I don’t think that’s an apt category for it either. It’s hard not to love a novel that so ardently resists classification. My only complaint is the introduction of a few too many one-off characters toward the end of the novel. While there were quite a few of these peppered throughout the story to either move the plot forward or as a way to gain insight into Jean or Fingal’s motivations, the ones at the end seemed almost superfluous. Regardless; with a little bit of Kurt Vonnegut, and a smidge of Scott Samuelson, On the Threshold is sure to please readers searching for something a little different for their TBR pile.

Reviewed By:

Author M. Laszlo
Star Count 5/5
Format eBook
Page Count 250 pages
Publisher Awesome Independent Authors Publishing
Publish Date 31-Jan-2024
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Issue October 2023
Category Science Fiction & Fantasy