Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Book Review: The Final Winter by Iain Rob Wright

The Final Winter: an apocalyptic horror novelAfter an exceptionally hard winter in the UK, and my husband's oft stated desire to be snowed in in a pub, this book sounded like a good read for me.  Something very strange is going on. News channels are reporting that it is snowing in every country of the world. That night in old English pub The Trumpet a small group of locals gather, debating the cause of this odd occurrence. But as the night goes on things get stranger and the group grows as other take refuge from both the snow storm and sinister characters outside. As events unfold it appears someone in their group may be the cause of it all.

The book is described as an apocalyptic horror, and while it starts in a way that provokes thoughts about climate change and doesn't appear to be setting up a horror story, as the evening goes on members of the group witness terrible things. Although some of the action takes place outside and in shops nearby most of the evening is covered from within the pub, in close quarters which feels quite claustrophobic and adds to the atmosphere. The tone starts as quite conversational and there are moments of humour which lightened the book and made it less dark than I was expecting while still containing some terrible moments. Will the group freeze to death, kill each other or have some other fate befall them? What on earth is behind the freak weather and are the newest members of the group exaggerating about what they have seen outside?

Written in the third person from a range of viewpoints we are able to find out about the secrets some of the refugees from the weather have. Harry is one of the main characters, a regular since tragedy hit his life. The others see him a bit of a drunken joke, not knowing about what has happened in his past. Local thug Damien lacks respect for the other regulars and has a hard man reputation but isn't all he seems. Nigel the trucker is an unknown quantity for the others, a man who keeps himself to himself, but probably for good reason.  Some of the characters like duo Ben and Jerry start out light-hearted and confident but reveal their softer more thoughtful sides as the night goes on. Possibly the most interesting character to me was the Irish charmer who has made his first appearance in the pub on this of all nights and seems to have uncanny insight. I thought the development of the characters and their interwoven relationships was great, and a real strength. The different types of people and their contradictory views were pretty representative of the sort of people you can find on any given evening in locals across the land. I definitely found myself identifying with and rooting for some of the characters while being disgusted by others.

It's proved quite difficult to review this book without giving any spoilers, so suffice it to say that towards the end all is explained and I really liked the what and why. I also liked the very last chapter which acted as an epilogue, but again would hate to say more for fear of ruining it for anyone else.

I thought this was a very good book, only let down a little by a few typos and misplaced apostrophes, with both a clever plot and a number of engaging characters. Oh and as an added bonus there is a revolting short story at the end! I'd definitely look up Iain Rob Wright's other works.

Format: Kindle, review copy
My Rating: 4*

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