“This future is closer than we’d care to admit.” – COUNTERPOINT by Michelle Cook reviewed

The blurb: It’s 31st October 2041 in England. On her twenty-fifth birthday, Essie Glass still grieves for her family, killed by a terrorist bomb when she was just sixteen. The signs of humanity and climate in decline are everywhere. Roads and communities crumble, floods and fires blight the landscape, and the sea reclaims the islands of the world. Unconcerned, the government tightens its grip on power with brazen propaganda and brutality.

Still, Essie has built a good life with Seth and their four-year-old daughter, Willow. If only she wasn’t haunted by the events of six years ago, when Alex Langford, corrupt businessman-turned-Prime Minister, tried to kill her to conceal his conspiracy to suppress climate-saving technology.

Essie takes solace in her secret plot to build a new prototype. When tricked into revealing the scheme to powerful enemies, she is forced to abandon her cherished family and run for her life. Her flight drives her into the heart of a resistance movement she never knew existed.

Among the chaos, and in mortal danger, will Essie finally find hope for the future?

The review: If this book is anything to go by, Michelle Cook is an author not holding out a lot of hope for humankind.

In this sequel to Tipping Point, it’s 2041 and the world is drowning. Cuba has been wiped off the map by floods, and rising sea levels are threatening London. Against this background of chaos and state-sponsored violence, our gritty and determined hero Essie Glass once again finds herself at the wrong end of government oppression.

For the sake of her life and the lives of her partner, former man of the cloth Seth, and her fearless four year old daughter Willow, she is forced to head out alone to try and salvage the prototype carbon capture device that is the only hope of survival for life on Earth.

As Essie descends into the underworld of the resistance, never fully knowing who she can trust, Seth and Willow are pursued across the country by the murderous jackbooted foot soldiers of sadistic prime minister Alex Langford.

Tipping Point set up the uncompromising, turbulent and dystopian vision of a future Britain that is Essie Glass’s reality, and in Counterpoint things have deteriorated yet further. Usually, when you pick up a novel, you can be pretty damn sure that the hero and their nearest and dearest are going to make it through to the end relatively unscathed. But here Michelle makes it clear early on that no one is safe. Basically, this story comes with no guarantees, which makes it all the more thrilling. It’s a sweaty, claustrophobic, bloody, white knuckle ride from page one. And just when you think we’ve reached peak bleak, a glimmer of hope presents itself somewhere on the horizon.

Like its predecessor, Counterpoint is vital and immediate, dealing with issues that humankind can no longer brush aside. It’s a violent book but the violence is justified because this future is closer than we’d care to admit. Michelle Cook is rapidly becoming a favourite novelist of mine because she has stories inside her than demand to be told, and she has a lot to say about government and capitalism. So if you haven’t read Tipping Point, gird your loins and pick it up, then get stuck into this tremendous book. Just be aware that the world will look like a very different place once you’ve finished it.

The author: Michelle Cook writes thrillers and dystopian fiction. She lives in Worcestershire, UK with her husband and their two young children.

Her first joyful steps into creative writing were at the age of ten, when the teacher read out her short story in class. A slapstick tale of two talking kangaroos breaking out of a zoo, the work was sadly lost to history. Still, Michelle never forgot the buzz of others enjoying her words.

More recently, she has had several flash pieces published, was longlisted for the Cambridge Prize for flash fiction, and placed first in the Writers’ Forum competition with her short story The Truth About Cherry House. Her debut novel, Tipping Point, was a finalist in the 2022 Page Turner Awards.

Counterpoint, the sequel to Tipping Point, is her second novel.

Counterpoint by Michelle Cook is published by Darkstroke Books and is available from Amazon.

Published by Richard E. Rock

Cat-loving, headbanging author of the dark and fantastical.

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