Death is a Welcome Guest: Plague Times Trilogy 2 by Louise Welsh
|Death is a Welcome Guest: Plague Times Trilogy 2 by Louise Welsh|
|Category: Science Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: The second in the Plague Times Trilogy with the same modern day killer illness but a different set of characters and situations. In this case different isn't bad, in fact it was better.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 384||Date: June 2015|
|Publisher: John Murray|
|External links: Author's website|
Magnus is a comedian but life isn't as funny as it was… not funny at all in fact. He's on the run from prison in a Britain that's in deadly dire trouble. But he must remain focused, his goal is to travel back to his native Scotland to be back with his family who may or may not have died of the Sweats; the deadly plague ravaging the world's population. On the other hand, the Sweats aren't the only threat to his life in a world where only the lucky survive. He may be lucky in some respects but luck has a habit of running out, the only question is when.
British author Louise Welsh brings us the second of her Plague Times Trilogy but with a difference – the difference being new characters. Louise herself describes this as a 'concept trilogy' which, in this case, means although we follow different people to those in A Lovely Way to Burn (book 1), there is a constant: the created world and times.
The good news is that Louise has ensured this constant creates fear and an excellent thriller that has the slight edge on its predecessor. It's also designed to read as a stand-alone or second in series. I would recommend the latter approach though – the build up to the full pandemic plague is the main star of the first novel and not to be missed.
Book 2 is written entirely from the third person viewpoint of Magnus which is no hardship as he's an engaging chap. Ok, he may indulge in a line or two of white powder and have reached the heady heights of the O2 Arena as a support act, but he feels very much a down-to-earth guy, albeit one in a whole heap of trouble. Even if he wasn't such an everyday chap, the goings on around him would soon level him off; threatened death seems to have the power to do that.
Along with his escape companion, Jeb, Magnus emerges from his cell into a Britain that's dying. This is no surprise to Magnus as he's only been inside for a couple of days but for Jeb, who has spent years in solitary, it all comes as rather a shock. (Talking of shocks, just wait for Jeb's eventual admission as to why he's in prison!)
Jeb is Magnus' streetwise guardian as they come across things like the railway carriages or flee an over enthusiastic army. Indeed, it's easy to be lulled by the few almost expected set pieces into thinking that this is going to be an unsurprising microbe-caused apocalypse story but all that changes when the lads come across a colony of survivors. Even that may sound like a cliché but in Louise's hands it becomes a gateway to something more sinister.
The author is indeed a canny writer and knows when a theme or story line is about to outstay its welcome in our imaginations. Before that happens the tale shifts a gear and the excitement builds to a higher pitch. I give you no spoilers, but a great example is a particular roof scene during which we have no idea what the person with the gun means to do with it. How often can we say that about a similar situation?
One element of the story is so close to topicality, most of us will remember it as a news item. As for the Sweats, well, we are about to enter a drug resistant era and the last Black Death episode in the UK was only in 1900. Food for thought while we await Book 3 with anticipation, fear and gleeful foreboding.
(Thank you to the folk at John Murray for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: It goes without saying that if this appeals then A Lovely Way to Burn, the first in the trilogy is your next stop. If you're already a fan and would like to have more apocalyptic thrills, we heartily recommend The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan.
You can read more book reviews or buy Death is a Welcome Guest: Plague Times Trilogy 2 by Louise Welsh at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Death is a Welcome Guest: Plague Times Trilogy 2 by Louise Welsh at Amazon.com.
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