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By Matthew Marullo

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TILL TIMES ARE DONE is a nicely-written, but sometimes overdone study of the relationship between two very different people.

An eccentric loner finds companionship and purpose with a strange visitor from another world.

TILL TIMES ARE DONE is a whimsical fantasy/light science-fiction story focused on a couple of characters forced together by circumstances, who need to reconcile their differences, and are compelled to solve a seemingly impossible problem.

Without giving anything away, TILL TIMES ARE DONE is a fish-out-of-water story, with an innocent young woman named Sylvia featured as the fish flopping around in a decidedly alien environment. The point of view of the book, however, is that of a young man named Angus, a sometimes angry, bitter person, too smart and highly educated for his own good, with a streak of superiority mixed with good, old-fashioned self-loathing. He’s a hard character to love, and for most of the book, Sylvia seems mostly appalled by his attitude, beliefs, and general cynicism. She’s a good egg, if maybe too good, and the contrast between them is the heart of the narrative.

While author Matthew Marullo’s book has a strong hook and intriguing story, half of the book is, instead, a Socratic dialogue between Angus, who has a lot to get off his chest, and Sylvia, who challenges Angus—up to a point. Angus is definitely a free-thinker, with eccentric ideas and tastes; Sylvia sticks to conventional wisdom for the most part. And Angus, unfortunately, feels compelled to tell all he knows about every topic at the drop of a hat. For the most part, Sylvia doesn’t seem to mind. A great deal of the discussion is about religion, about which—like everything—Angus has strong feelings. At best, their dialogue is sharp, compelling and educational, revealing character; at worst, it’s sophomoric, descending into chat-room argument, leading nowhere. Besides religion, they also talk about sex, art and drugs, which doesn’t get them much further.

The other half of TILL TIMES ARE DONE concerns Angus’s large family who gather several times for wildly absurd scenes. They’re just as whacky as Angus, though in different ways, including substance abuse. A confusing crowd of crazies seemingly unrelated to the main story, the family does reveal its importance eventually. The mystery to be solved and the characters involved finally tangle into a mind-numbing mess, which Angus manages to resolve, Sylvia at his side. The ending is a fantastic save, as intriguing as the beginning.

TILL TIMES ARE DONE is a nicely-written, but sometimes overdone study of the relationship between two very different people.

~Dave Eisenstark for IndieReader