A Single Light by Tosca Lee
I would like to thank Creative Edge for an advance copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review
Publisher – Howard Books
Published – Out Now
Price- £12.99 Kindle ebook
NB - this novel is a sequel to the story told in The Line Between by Tosca Lee and there will be spoilers for Book 1
Cult escapee Wynter Roth and ex-soldier Chase Miller emerge from their bunker to find a country ravaged by disease, and Wynter is the only one who can save it . Six months after vanishing into an underground silo with sixty others, Wynter and Chase emerge to find the area abandoned. There is no sign of Noah and the rest of the group that was supposed to greet them when they emerged – the same people Wynter was counting on to help her locate the IV antibiotics her gravely ill friend Julie needs in order to live. As the clock ticks down on Julie’s life; Wynter and Chase embark on a desperate search for medicine and answers….
I was pleasantly surprised how engrossing the end of the world (ok America) was delivered in Tosca Lee’s The Line Between - this had a fascinating lead character in the form of Wynter Roth who had escaped from a religious cult but then got embroiled in the cult leader’s plot to create Armageddon by infecting the country with a fatal flu virus that also gave symptoms of dementia. Wynter raced to get the only vaccine in safe hands picking up a former soldier/bodyguard in the process and ended up on the run from the authorities herself. Awaiting a vaccine to be produced Wynter and her family and friends were able to hide in a remote silo with a number of other survivalists to wait out the pandemic and hope order was restored. In A Single Light Lee now returns to deliver a dramatic conclusion to the series.
This is very much a novel of three very different sections. The first is a pressure cooker tale with sixty people locked in an underground bunker for nearly 200 hundred days cut off from the world. During their waiting period we see tensions start to rise and conflicts burst out unexpectedly as the tension increases. This is actually quite a shocking section as people start acting incredibly selfishly and stupidly in confused spaces. Lee really makes these scenes tense and as people are acting irrationally then it makes everyone seem a potential threat especially as Chase and Wynter want to keep their real identifies secret. Sneakily this even strains the strong bond that Chase and Wynter developed in the first book; so we get a feeling that everything is now off kilter. And then just to spice things up the team above this ark (led by a man calling himself Noah!) stop sending messages to the world below. Wynter’s group now seems to be all alone.
That leads to very entertaining action packed second section when Wynter and Chase volunteer themselves to help find medication for an injured friend. The world above though is no longer civilised and instead is now a disaster zone; crashed planes; blocked roads; mass graves and empty hospitals. This is a really effective section as we go for a very uncomfortable road trip into the apocalypse and while yes we have seen these scenes all done before in many a film or book I liked how the story focused on Wynter – while Chase has his uses it’s notable how Wynter has grown into herself – confident of her responses; daring to take risks and be in charge. That’s quite refreshing in a world where usually the ex-marine with a past is our main lead. Plus; you really want these two to get back together after the events of the first part! What I also liked about this section was Lee’s ability to make the situation really feel as a world on the edge of collapse – helped a lot by how some very good people just fall foul of the nastier elements residing in the world. It’s a very full throttle section and I think really carries the story well.
My only gripe was the last quarter of the book where an awful lot of remaining plot points seem to be finished fast. At this point the story feels a little over stretched at times. While I loved again how Wynter was the focus of the story it veers from a small-scale action thriller into something much more global and at that point I don’t think the story had fully earned transitioning into this bigger climax. This section could almost have been a book in itself and perhaps would have allowed the story to breathe more. The ending is satisfactory but just I feel a bit too rushed.
Overall this is a fine conclusion to the wider story and while a few reservations on how it tries to wrap everything up the story really has a compelling lead in Wynter who I loved watching develop. Lee has a great sense of pace, plotting and also action sequences and that makes it a very compelling read. A fun fast read that I think has a lot to offer readers of thrillers.