Monday 26 February 2024

The Descent by Paul E Hardisty BLOG TOUR #TheDescent @Hardisty_Paul @OrendaBooks #ClimateEmergency #BookReview


A young man and his young family set out on a perilous voyage across a devastated planet to uncover the origin of the events that set the world on its course to disaster … The prescient, deeply shocking prequel to the bestselling, critically acclaimed Climate Emergency thriller, The Forcing.

 Kweku Ashworth is a child of the cataclysm, born on a sailboat to parents fleeing the devastation in search for a refuge in the Southern Ocean. Growing up in a world forever changed, his only connection to the events that set the planet on its course to disaster were the stories his step-father, long-dead, recorded in his manuscript, The Forcing. 

 But there are huge gaps in the story that his mother, still alive but old and frail, steadfastly refuses to speak of, even thirty years later. When he discovers evidence that his mother has tried to cover up the truth, and then stumbles across an account by someone close to the men who forced the globe into a climate catastrophe, he knows that it is time to find out for himself.

 Determined to learn what really happened during his mother's escape from the concentration camp to which she and Kweku's father were banished, and their subsequent journey halfway around the world, Kweku and his young family set out on a perilous voyage across a devastated planet. What they find will challenge not only their faith in humanity, but their ability to stay alive.

 The Descent is the devastating, nerve-shattering prequel to the critically acclaimed thriller The Forcing, a story of survival, hope, and the power of the human spirit in a world torn apart by climate change.

The Descent by Paul E Hardisty is published on 29 February 2024 by Orenda Books. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour. 

I read and reviewed Paul E Hardisty's The Forcing in February of last year. The Descent is both a prequel and a sequel to The Forcing. The author shows us what happened in the years between 2024 and 2039 that set the scene for the drastic measures demanded by those who governed in the following years. He also takes us forward in time where we meet the descendants of those who made a journey in The Forcing. It is incredibly well structured, and once again, just as I did when I read The Forcing, I felt emotions that ranged from pure anger, to extreme terror. 

Paul E Hardisty is a well respected environmental scientist, his research is source material for many papers prepared for Governments around the world. I heard him speak at the Newcastle Noir crime fiction festival last year, and there is no doubt at all that his fictional characters and events are based on real science and the truth. I guess it's fairly hard for him to get the general public to read long, fairly dry scientific reports, so writing novels about the same subject makes sense. It helps too that his writing is magnificent. It is often lyrical, almost poetic, yet is filled with tension and suspense at the same time. 

The Descent has two main threads, both told in the first person. We get to know Kweku Ashworth, the child of the narrator of The Forcing. Kweku has grown up learning about the events that changed the world from his step-father's manuscript. However Kweku has always been intrigued and worried about the gaps in this story and when he discovers a regular recording, narrated by someone who knows so much about the historical events, he is determined to find out more. 

The second narrator is know as Sparkplug, and she's the voice of the recordings that Kweku listens to. Her story is frightening and alarming, and there are people who would do anything to ensure that her voice is silenced. Sparkplug's story is terrifying, and for me, it was the part of the novel that most resonated. Readers will recognise some of the people spoken about in her revelations; the leader of Russia, the guy who will be the US president, the extremely wealthy and powerful, they are all there and they all walk amongst us. 

Kweku and his small family set off on a long voyage on the boat that his parents arrived in, and also the boat that he was born on. Their journey is full of danger, they will come across those people who can help, those who pretend they can help and those who are determined to stop them. As they cross the oceans, they land in places that were once thriving, vibrant countries but are now almost deserted, barren and most of the remaining inhabitants are hungry, poverty stricken and hopeless. 

The two narratives appear to be separate yet it soon becomes clear that the events that Sparkplug describe and the actions of the richest and most powerful have shaped the world that Kweku now lives in. 

This is a powerful, thought provoking and chilling story that should be a warning to us all. Whilst it is fiction, we have to realise that it really could be reality. Speculative yes, but very very probable too. Hardisty writes with an authority and conviction that cannot be denied. The Descent is utterly brilliant, even if it sends shivers down the spine. 

Canadian Paul E Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer,
hydrologist and environmental scientist. 
He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. 
He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. 
In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a. 
Paul is a university professor and CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). 
The first four novels in his Claymore Straker series, The Abrupt Physics of Dying, The Evolution of Fear, Reconciliation for the Dead and Absolution all received great critical acclaim and The Abrupt Physics of Dying was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger and Telegraph Thriller of the Year. 

The Forcing (2023) was a SciFi Now Book of the Month. 

Paul is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, and lives in Western Australia.

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