In 1969, the four Gold children sneak into a grimy building in New York’s Lower East Side to visit a travelling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the date they will die. Over the years that follow, the siblings must choose how to live with the prophecies given to them that day.

Chloe Benjamin’s second novel is a sweeping family drama that examines the line between destiny and choice. The four Gold siblings leave the psychic each knowing the exact day they will die. Not all of them believe in the prophecy, but nevertheless it continues to haunt them throughout the years to come.

The story is told in four parts, each focusing on a different character: Simon, Klara, Daniel and Varya. The first two parts of the book, those telling Simon and Klara’s story, are definitely more interesting than the last two parts. The momentum seemed to fall away in the second half so I found myself less and less keen to pick it up and start reading again.

Although the blurb suggests a kind of magical realism, more than anything this book is concerned with family bonds and the ties that bind us to our siblings and parents. It follows the four Gold children throughout their lives as they struggle to reconcile who they want to be with who their family expects them to be, the family they grew up in with the family they create for themselves.

The Immortalists examines some interesting themes and asks some poignant questions: how would you live your life if you knew when you were going to die? I have no doubt this book is going to appear on many ‘best books of 2018’ lists, but for me it lacked an emotional connection. It’s hard to really care about characters who are, for the most part, unrelentingly miserable about their lives. There are also moments when the main characters act completely out of character and make ridiculous decisions that make no sense when compared with who the author set them up to be.

The secondary characters also feel as though they are waiting in the wings for the cue to walk on, recite their poignant monologue/backstory, and leave again.

The fun in this book lies in waiting to find out whether each character’s prophecy will come true and, if it does, how they will meet their demise. It’s enough to keep you reading, but perhaps not enough to make The Immortalists a truly memorable read.