By Elena Juarez
A new dawn. A new dusk. A new season. A new man. A Change of Seasons written by Khurram Elahi is a good example of a character driven novel where one man’s descent into absolute insanity is the main focus. John Winters, a seemingly ordinary man, undergoes a multitude of life-altering events that bring forth a chilling dive into madness.
As previously stated, A Change of Seasons is a character driven novel where the plot focuses on who this person is and who they will become. Outside of John Winter’s mind, the world doesn’t change, but he does. He goes through events that, to anyone, would bring on a drought to their happiness or an unsteadiness to their lives. Winters is first introduced as a middle aged man who has not had any luck in his life; a pitied man whom one hopes all goes well for. However, as the reader is brought more so into the story and begins to realize just the type of man that Winters is, the pity takes its leave. John Winters is not a likable character in any sense. Even as John Winters loses respectability in the reader’s eyes, Elahi is still able to produce a ray of humanity amongst his atrocious actions. That ray being in the form of Simon. Simon is the one true friend that John has and his only link to positivity given Winter’s pessimism. With Simon around, the reader holds that small bit of hope that John’s life will alter and take a turn for the better. Without him, the sliver of hope disappears.
One of the most fascinating aspects about this novel was the setting. A majority of the novel takes place in a hospital, a place in which one goes to rehabilitate and recover. Where one is expected to come out better than when they stepped in. The irony of it was gratifying simply because it was unexpected. John Winters does not, in any way, shape, or form follow this status quo bringing forth an unexpected twist and flavor. As John becomes more trapped in his mind and descends into madness, the setting follows suit. His apartment slowly consumes both itself and him. A comparison clear enough that the reader can see it bright as day. His erratic mind nibbling at his outer thoughts only for a near death experience to let his thoughts and urges consume him. Elahi, therefore, assists the reader in understanding where John Winter’s mental point is during certain parts of the novel.
As one reads through the novel, it is almost always expected that a happy ending will occur. One can argue that one of the reasons many people read novels is to escape a tragic reality. I will argue something slightly different: those who read, read for the unexpected. This is precisely what this novel provides. While the story begins at quite a slow pace, the reader will not lose interest due to the characters themselves. At each point in the novel, there is a character whom one is intrigued by or is able to relate too. Personally, I enjoyed the novel overall and would recommend it to anyone who seeks to read a book regarding how loneliness and tragedy can lead to insanity. A fair warning; however, would have to be given out to those who have pets, specifically cats.
By Ayesha Irfan
As an avid fantasy and mostly action-adventure reader, I had been avoiding the seas of thriller stories for a long time. Well, until my recent read, which I found out to be a great introduction to thriller stories, especially psychological thrillers. Pushing me to read beyond my comfort zone and enjoy what different genres have to offer. “A Change of Seasons” by Khurram Elahi, is an unforgettable read sure to give you chills, literal chills, by the end of the story.
Most of the story takes place in Lanchester, a small town in England. Throughout the whole book, the main character describes the places he has been to with vivid details allowing the readers to immerse themselves in the story and truly experience the surroundings at play. Not only that, the setting is the same place where the main character grew up, thus placing more value on the areas the character describes. As the story revolves around the place where the character grew up, it also feels closer to the character and adds a sense of connection and familiarity. Thus, allowing the reader to learn more about the character and dive deeper into their roots. Giving them a chance to form a much deeper connection with the character.
The gripping plot follows John Winters, a fifty-three-year-old man, going through major hurdles in his life. First a recent divorce and now a heart operation. These struggles start to challenge him both emotionally and mentally. The signs become evident especially in the second part of the story where he starts attacking animals uncontrollably. The first part of the story mostly follows him thinking about his past, his memories from his childhood, his strange dreams, and also the stories of people surrounding him. At first, personally, the story seemed to unfold slowly, where John mostly describes his dreams, his views on what is happening around him, and his past. I think the descriptions were still necessary as a building block of the main character, allowing the reader to grasp his true characteristics, discover his emotions, understand his situation (how he perceives the world), and feel empathetic towards him. As the plot unfolds and the story progresses to the time after John’s operation, the plot starts to escalate, adding more suspense, until the end of the story. This escalation encourages the reader to continue reading and stick with the character until the very end. Eventually the reader will find out a great, unpredictable plot twist, that is sure to send chills down their spine, with the story lingering in their head for days after putting down the book.
As the story progresses the character dynamics of the main character start to become more evident. John Winters, in his early fifties, is described as a reserved and introverted person. Mostly feeling isolated and lonely, more so after his recent divorce. Although I think he preferred his life that way, all isolated, it did affect him vastly. After his operation, he didn't have anyone to look after him or care for him. Although I have to say, at some points during my read through the character did feel relatable, procrastinating his way through life, and questioning the point of his own mundane life. But after going through the after-effects of his divorce his emotions start to overwhelm him, making it hard for him to move on with his life. Thus, allowing the readers to find out another characteristic of him: despite his nature appearing cold, deep down he cares for the people around him, even if he himself doesn’t realize it. Furthermore, it was really interesting to see how he perceived the world around him: the people he saw every day, the things he noticed about them, or just his observations of small natural things occurring in his presence. It certainly, as a reader, allowed me to understand him more. Simon, John’s best friend is another character introduced in the story, although not as impactful as the main character, he still plays a huge role in John's life as a support system. Although appearing friendly and supportive, he is someone who readers will find out as the story progresses has his own mysteries.
Apart from a gripping plot and amazing character dynamics, the story covers some really important themes as well, allowing the reader to go deeper than the surface. John Winters, the main character, is shown as a reserved, quiet person, longing for understanding. Not growing up with parents, proper care, or nurture, it became hard for him to communicate with others and convey his emotions. This shows how the lack of a nurturing figure in one's life can affect a person both emotionally and mentally throughout the duration of their life. The longing for love and the search for good memories remain, even after many years pass by. Furthermore, the story portrays the importance of friendship. During his time, John’s only support was his best friend, Simon, who, no matter what, listened to him and cared for him unconditionally. He was the only one John could trust with the deeper workings of his mind, allowing him to take the emotional burden off himself and somehow, even for a bit, manage his overwhelming emotions. In my opinion the story, even if slightly, gave a message of how someone can be going through more than we think, and how there will always be people who would be ignorant about it. For instance, John’s boss at his workplace, ignored and did not even try to understand his situation. Nurse Diane goes through complications in her life, and at first glance, no one would even know about it. However, one of the most important themes that the book portrays is how health complications can vastly affect someone's state of mind, proven by the characters John and Simon both. It also interestingly described how changes in seasons throughout the year may not bring changes in everyone's life; leaving them suffering without anyone even noticing.
Overall, I enjoyed the book a lot. Hesitant to read it first and going through highs and lows while reading, I was truly mesmerized by not only just the plot but the beautiful writing style as well. The book does contain some major triggers but is sure to leave the reader with a thrilling experience. If you are already into psychological thrillers or are new to them like me, be sure to have a read, especially for a chilling ending.
By Khurram Elahi
John Winters is a fifty-three year old man who has an upcoming heart operation. In the wake of his recent divorce and the aftermath of the operation, John returns to his old life and tries to navigate the new waters that he’s in. His life has been changed and this book follows his journey as he tries to bring back some sense of normalcy in his lifestyle. This story uses the metaphor of the change of seasons to show John’s change into someone he cannot recognize.
This book talks about a lot of grave topics. It addresses life after a major heart operation, separation from a loved one, and it talks about how one adapts to their situation after a life-changing incident. The book addresses a lot of critical themes and portrays this all through a common adult that readers will be able to relate to. Throughout the story, the common theme of
adulthood and living alone is prominent.
I did not like this book. The plot felt dry to me and I wasn’t able to get into the writing style. But this could very well be due to the fact that I am not the target audience for this book. Since it talks a lot about adulthood, as a teenager I couldn’t relate to the character much. The writing was nice and the descriptions were beautiful in some places, but mostly it just felt like the author tried too hard. There were too many metaphors and vague references that were out of place. The first part of the plot was a bit boring and it was mainly made up of disjointed scenes, but after the middle the book picked up pace and I could see the character’s gradual change in character. I did like the idea of this book; it was very innovative and different but I felt that the book was lacking in execution. If written differently, I would’ve loved this book. The plot twists were nice and the last one was a shocker but since I couldn’t get into the book that much, it didn’t hit me as hard.
Although I didn’t like this book, there are other people who have enjoyed this book. I would recommend this book to middle-aged adults who want to disappear into someone else’s life for a while. If you recently had a life-changing incident, you might want to read this book to find yourself in the pages. But if you’re looking for a quick paced read with twists and turns at every corner, this book is not for you. The book is a bit on the longer side and it’ll take you some time to finish so be prepared for that when you pick it up.