Overall rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“If this sign is carried, one will never lose one’s way in storms or bad weather, even when the way is not known.”
This book took me longer than I expected to finish – not because it was boring, uninteresting or didn’t capture my attention, but for the exact opposite reasons. I have never wanted to sit down and take as much in from a book as I have with this one! I took it slow and enjoyed one chapter at a time, letting each one settle in my mind before starting the next. This book gave me hours of joy and filled me with emotion effortlessly, and it has quickly become one of my all time favourites. Just writing this is making me want to pick it up and start it again from scratch (although I am aware of my overflowing TBR list). After being left utterly speechless from this book, I urge everyone to read this review until the end!
The Latecomers by Rich Marcello follows the story of Maggie and Charlie Latecomer. They love each other but are conflicted over what it means to age well in a youth-oriented society. Forced into early retirement and with grown children in distant cities, they’ve settled into a curbed routine, leaving Charlie restless and longing for more.
When the Latecomers and their friends discover a mystical book of indecipherable logographs, the corporeal world and preternatural world intertwine. They set off on a restorative journey to uncover the secrets of the book that pits them against a potent corporate foe in a struggle for the hearts and minds of woman and men the world over.
I’ve never read such artistic, colourful and gentle words in a book before. Reading the opening was quite a surreal experience, and I don’t really know how else I can describe it! This book felt like a breath of fresh air from the first line I read, the words flowing perfectly from sentence to sentence. Charlie and Maggie seem to have had a fun and loving life together over the years, and we’re taken back in time through the characters’ memories, sharing emotions and the pair’s special bond. I even began to tear up a little after reading the first heartfelt chapter from Maggie’s perspective, something that I’ve never done before. An absolutely magnificent opening to the book.
When Charlie gives some heartbreaking news, Maggie is certain life will never be the same again. Even though I loved Maggie’s character already, and felt her pain and loss, I was instantly curious about the journey Charlie needed to take. There’s a lot of secrecy at first, and the introduction of a new character, Ebba. The author always kept me guessing the more I read, and I loved the build up to learning more about this mystery trip. The description of everything surpasses anything I could have expected; foods, sights, thoughts and feelings were carefully crafted into words so delicate, yet vivid in my imagination.
We continue to follow both Charlie and Maggie’s separate paths as they explore new thoughts, feelings and, even though their love for each other is still strong, new people to share those experiences with. Charlie grows ever closer Ebba as they discover more of Overlamma Cove together, whereas Maggie is reunited with an old family friend with an attractive proposition. The author has cleverly drawn us into both these stories, making it impossible to side with a character. We grow to understand more about why this separation is needed and why both of these character’s need change. Again, each page is filled with beautiful words, making the story easy to visualise and get lost in.
“She knew all my secrets; she honored them. So why hadn’t I told her where I was headed?”
Charlie soon finds the courage and strength to talk about his life in front of Ebba and his friends. This also helped us readers to understand certain details of the story that hadn’t been fully explained until this point. We learn more of Charlie’s relationship with Sabina when he was adopted, his first wife and child and also how he dealt with various emotions, mainly grief and loss. The author’s words filled me with emotion once more, and I loved the amount of detail we are presented with. My main question at this point was just where the next step of Charlie’s journey would take him, and whether both Charlie and Maggie would ever find peace without one another.
Charlie’s time away from his normal day to day life makes him realise that he needs Maggie more than anything else. After a long while, he knows they can work through his feelings of restlessness and uncertainty together, and that she is the only person who can truly make him happy and content. When both Charlie and Maggie sense each other as an unexpected, dangerous event happens to those close to them, they make the decision to find one another, regardless of what they may uncover when they do. I loved the invisible connection between these two characters, but it also worried me a little too – the path to come would be even more complex than they originally thought.
Along with their friends and companions, Charlie and Maggie begin an extraordinary journey, one that they didn’t dream of taking in their current circumstances. After meeting a woman on the lake, Charlie finds himself looking at a book filled with symbols that no one has ever been able to decipher. Could it be filled with words of wisdom? Warnings? Instructions? Or simply quotes to remember and live by? He’s eager to find out more about these symbols, especially as it was linked to a very special woman in his life. I felt very involved in the story at this point, almost as if I was my own character thinking up solutions and different ways to problem solve.
The bond between the group of friends and their understanding of taking this journey together as one really cemented the story together. I enjoyed their individual choices and views on the path they take, how important it is to make sense of their own unique hallucinations as well as the spiritual aspect. I loved how the book took a different turn in the second half, but Charlie and Maggie’s connection remained strong and hopeful. After receiving an attractive offer from a powerful individual, they have an important group decision to make about the future of the mysterious book. Will they follow their destiny, learn the secrets that have presented themselves to the group and live a prosperous life Bibi would be proud of? I certainly hoped so!
“But what happened after your husband no longer saw the goddesses in you, after the love of your life stopped stringing?”
What happened next was one of the most unexpected, saddening and heart-wrenching things I’ve ever read. Maggie has to conjure up even more strength than she has shown previously to finish the job they set out to do, but with an added weight on her shoulders. She shows incredible determination, even with so much going on in her life. This particular character, as well as Charlie’s character, are some of the strongest, most memorable people I’ve come across in a book. I found myself becoming attached to them both over time – any bad news definitely affected me more than I thought it would. I was apprehensive about the last part of the story, but also excited to see if Maggie would succeed.
Even though the group make slow progress on their search, they still stick together in their moai, supporting each other in times of need. Maggie battles with letting go and runs through many different memories of the past in her mind, struggling with acceptance. Getting closer to finding out more information about those mysterious logographs is a promise she made to Charlie, one that she’ll do anything to commit to. After becoming so attached to Maggie, I really wanted to see a little good news to heal her soul. Even towards the end of the book, I still had so much hope and love for her character.
The group, having discovered a powerful plant, a plant that could potentially save millions of lives, find out that it’s being used inappropriately. The plant also holds secrets that the group want to explore, yet they find it extremely hard to get a hold of it. There is so much suspense at this point, but again, the connection from the group shines through, and they work together to solve problems and work out a plan. What surprised me the most was a visit to a familiar face, one that we didn’t expect to give the answers they needed…
Maggie and the group soon set up their own tea company, using very special plants with extraordinary healing properties. This was to fight back against the woman who is using her own plants to ‘heal’ others in an unethical way. Looking back, the ending of the story is so much different to the gentle relationship focused on in the first half of the story, but it still had the same feel. The description of emotions was just as intense and I loved how the story line was unpredictable. What I had in mind for the ending of the story was so far from what actually happened, making me love this book even more than I did before. A final offer Maggie simply can’t refuse is now on the table – will she follow her head or her heart? Is there really a difference between the two?
“I am a warrior fueled by love, at peace with the choices I’ve made, clear about where I’m going and what I must do to serve.”
The ending of the book had the closure we need, but also gives us plenty to speculate on. Maggie and Charlie’s lives had been filled with so much love, adventure and good deeds, and if any love story is one to read about, then theirs is sure to be it! The gentle ending, the emotional ride and the lifelong lessons I took away from the book made this particular story one I’ll keep with me for a lifetime. Since finishing that last page, I simply haven’t been able to think about anything else!
This book had a incredible impact on me. The story was so deep and involving, and was told by an author who somehow knew the exact tone and style I love to read. Each sentence was delicately crafted to fit into the bigger picture, each page left me longing for more of both Charlie and Maggie’s story and ultimately, their destiny. The story filled me with pretty much every emotion, and I really have to applaud the author for doing everything right. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book if you’re looking for the love aspect of a romance, but also the suspense and adventure that comes with a good mystery.
A huge congratulations to Rich Marcello on creating such a masterpiece of a book! And thank you for providing me with hours of pure reading joy. You can purchase your own copy of The Latecomers on Amazon UK or US, available on Kindle or paperback. Follow Rich over on Twitter and Instagram for more updates!
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