Books can have two different endings: one with an epilogue, which will details a far future, or one without, which will remain in the present, or the near future at most.
What I like about epilogues
- You don’t have any questions left, everything gets answered. You know what happens to the main protagonists years down the line, what colour their new cat is and how their career and personal lives have progressed. Sometimes, you even get details about side characters. I appreciate this too, because I tend to have a soft spot for side characters.
- There is no confusion about the ending. Sometimes, the author will leave an open or unclear ending, which readers can interpret differently. With an epilogue, there are no arguments possible.
- It provides closure. The story is all finished, all wrapped up, so it makes it easier to move onto another one. The satisfaction factor is high.
- It can give you a glimpse or opening onto the next book, if it is a series, and wet your appetite.
What I don’t like about epilogues
- The lack of mystery. I like to be able to imagine what happens in the future of a character I love. It allows me to remain in the world created by the author for longer, as I ponder on all the possibilities.
- I might not like the future described in an epilogue. Let’s be honest, we all have our tastes, preferences and ideas on what should happen to a character down the line. If the epilogue doesn’t fit what you had imagined, it is a cruel blow.
- Some epilogues are pointless. Need I say more?
- The epilogue cliffhanger. No. Just no. I cannot stand cliffhangers, unless the next book is available already. And even then, you’ll hear me groan.
- The story is wrapped up, and my journey with the characters is finished. Epilogues can make me a little melancholic at the idea of saying goodbye to characters I have loved.
In conclusion, I would say that I like epilogues, as long as they are useful and flawless. I don’t even mind the all singing, all dancing cliché where everyone lives happily ever after, but it needs to show that the author has worked on it as much as on the rest of her/his story. Lazy epilogues ruin everything.
What’s your view on epilogues? Love ’em or hate ’em?