Blog Tour: The Descent, Paul Hardisty

Book Review: The Descent, Paul Hardisty

The Descent, Paul Hardisty

Thriller: : The Descent, Paul Hardisty

Blog Tour: February 14, 2024


Last February we reviewed The Forcing by Paul Hardisty. It was a chilling climate fiction about a world with out of control global warming and the desperate political steps taken to try to deal with the destruction. The Descent is billed as a prequel to The Forcing. It is, but it is also a sequel. Two timelines, one set in the 2020s and 2030s, the other set in the 2060s, tell a story that is interconnected despite the separation of years and geography.


Kweku Ashworth was born at sea, on a small boat his mother and stepfather were on, escaping the ravages of climate change and political violence in the US. Having made their way to Australia, the young family builds a home and tries to live in peace. Kweku and his brother Lewis found brides in the town of Albany, two orphaned young women who chose to come with them home. Kweku and his wife, Julia, are the proud parents of a toddler boy, Leo.


Kweku and Lewis have set up a shortwave radio broadcast, where they regularly read aloud their Papa’s journal detailing the imprisonment in a concentration camp, their escape on the boat, and their further challenges as they made their way to Australia. One day, someone else begins transmitting via the shortwave. Without identifying herself, she has also kept journals and begins reading from them to the airwaves. She also has a warning for the brothers: “they” are listening, and they don’t like what they are hearing.


Soon thereafter, while Kweku, Julia, and Leo were walking, they hear the sounds of gunfire and see smoke arising from their home compound. When they return, Lewis and his wife and their mother have been killed. Missing is Kweku’s niece, Rebecca. Calling cards are left at the scene–literal playing cards with the expected card faces. Additionally, the Greek letters of alpha and omega are on the cards. One is left with each of the bodies. The other is pinned to a tree, presumably indicating Rebecca’s kidnapping.


Kweku and his family set out to find the last member of his brother’s family. Along the journey, the other narrator, a woman known to them only as Sparkplug, continues to tell of the conspiracy that intentionally created another pandemic, hastened the journey to climate catastrophe, and ushered in right-wing governments around the world. To their surprise, Sparkplug’s story partially intersects with his Papa’s journals, with certain people appearing at different times in each of the narratives.


Paul Hardisty has created a vivid, compelling, and terrifying view of the future. And not just the far-distant future. The Descent begins its timeline in February 2024. I would love to say he has a strong imagination, but some of his stories are based on news that is all too current. There are fictional counterparts to a certain well-known ex-president, to billionaires controlling unthinkable wealth and owning their own spaceship, and to the invasion of Ukraine. This book is all the more horrifying with its “ripped from the headlines” starting point. I have said before in reviews that some books feel like they are centuries away from any possibility of things happening. Other books feel like they could begin next Tuesday. This one definitely falls into the second category.


As the family travels around the world in search of Rebecca, they find unexpected allies and unscrupulous enemies. Hardisty uses the separate timelines to paint a picture of a world we are potentially seeing develop already: fires, heatwaves, floods, pandemics, unimaginably wealthy individuals controlling the levers of political power, and a death toll numbered in the billions. That is not the future I want for my grandchildren. It may be the future I am leaving to them.


Our thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things for our copy of The Descent, provided so we could give an honest review. The opinions here are solely those of Scintilla. For other perspectives, check out the other bloggers on this tour.


The Descent, Paul Hardisty

Book Review: The Descent, Paul Hardisty

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