Quick Review: The Last Storm (2022)

By Tim Lebbon

Available at AMAZON

With global warming out of control, large swathes of North America have been struck by famine and drought and are now known as the Desert. A young woman sets out across this dry, hostile landscape, gradually building an arcane apparatus she believes will bring rain to the parched earth.

Jesse lives alone, far from civilization. Once, he too made rain, but he stopped when his abilities caused fatalities, bringing down not just rain but scorpions, strange snakes and spiders. When his daughter Ash inherited this tainted gift, Jesse did his best to stop her. His attempt went tragically wrong, and he believes himself responsible for her death.

But now his estranged wife Karina brings news that Ash is still alive. And she’s rainmaking again. Terrified of what she might bring down upon the desperate communities of the Desert, they set out to find her. But Jesse and Karina are not the only ones looking for Ash. As the storms she conjures become more violent and deadly, some follow her seeking hope. And one is hungry for revenge.

Tim Lebbon brings us another, fantastic story that takes the usual dystopian future and turns it into something tangible and not a million miles away from where we are heading. Drought and famine are common place across North America and people are fighting to simply survive in the tough new landscape. Hope comes in the form of the mythical rainmakers, potential life-savers, who haven’t been seen for years. When one reappears and brings rain, it could be the answer to everyone’s prayers, or nightmares, as it isn’t just water that comes through.

The Last Storm is part dystopian horror, part road-trip, part reconciliation story and part venegeance thriller. Three disparate parties converge on a series of wildfires threatening to engulf a small desert town; the rainmaker, hoping to stop the destruction, her parents, desperate to reunite with the daughter they thought was dead, and a man desperate for revenge on the person responsible for his father’s death.

The book follows each group as they are slowly drawn to each other, changing focus from chapter to chapter, edging bit by bit towards a dramatic showdown and conclusion. As we get closer to the end of the book the chapters get shorter and the action faster, the pages turning rapidly as the story builds to a satisfying crescendo.

Tim creates and builds a credible dystopia, littered with the familiar but at the same time tainted by the new; changes forced on the world because of climate change and man’s destructive nature. He introduces the concept of Rainmakers with very little explanation, but it doesn’t need explaining. The mystery is part of the story, of the mythology in the book. The Rainmaker’s equipment is built by the individual and we never really understand how it works. But neither do the Rainmakers; it is an intuitive skill, something that just comes to them as they build it, as if guided by a spiritul or alien hand. Which might be the case as the process of rainmaking links the maker to another world, seemingly benign, but secretly deadly and, when the creatures that reside there abuse the connection with the rainmaker to travel to our world, things start to get out of hand.

Everything in The Last Storm is skillfully realised and beautifully told. Tim’s prose is easy to read, descriptive, yet un-fussy. We have seen so many dystopian tales told over in the past, but The Last Storm is a wonderful and original addition to the pantheon

TIM LEBBON is a New York Times-bestselling writer from South Wales. He’s had twenty novels published to date, including The IslandThe Map of Moments (with Christopher Golden), Bar NoneFallenHellboy: The Fire WolvesDusk, and Berserk, as well as scores of novellas and short stories. He has won four British Fantasy Awards, a Bram Stoker Award, and a Scribe Award, and has been a finalist for the International Horror Guild and World Fantasy Awards. In 2011, his book Thief of Broken Toys (ChiZine Publications) was nominated for the World Fantasy Award in the novella category. He has also been a judge for the World Fantasy Award.

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