Review: Rich Hawkins – The Last Soldier

Review: Rich Hawkins – The Last Soldier


Genre: Horror
Publisher: Crowded Quarantine Publications
Publication Date: 19th March 2016
Pages: 374




This is another of those reviews where I don’t need to put a disclaimer up. I am lucky enough to own a copy of the limited edition, Crowded Quarantine Publications hardback of the complete trilogy of The Last Plague, The Last Outpost and The Last Soldier.

I got this sent to me from a con I couldn’t make it to last year. Adam Millard very kindly talked Rich Hawkins into signing a copy for me and sent it on to me. It is beautiful. Just beautiful.

You may have read my review of the first book in this trilogy, The Last Plague, a couple of weeks ago. I absolutely loved that book. It is probably going to be one of my books of the year. In fact, it is probably going to be one of my books of all time. Then, last week, I reviewed the second book in the trilogy, The Last Outpost. It let me down a little after the absolute superbness of The Last Plague. I wasn’t really surprised though, as it was a very hard act to follow. I was hoping with The Last Soldier, that it would finish the trilogy on a strong point again.

This is what I thought.

Florence is going to return to Britain. By some miracle, she is still alive, after the previous two years of hell. This is mostly due to the protection she has had from Morse.

He was a soldier, and he swore to protect Florence in her quest. They both knew she had a gift, but neither of them knew for what purpose.

As they travel through the ravaged countryside of Britain once again, things become clearer and Florence’s true purpose is revealed.

The big question though, is can Morse let her go after swearing to protect her.

As you can probably gather from the synopsis and my short blurb, Morse and Florence are the two main characters in this one. Florence has grown since we last met her in the first book. She has just about survived. She is strong willed but not so strong of mind. She has a gift. She can sometimes communicate with the infected, in silent ways. She still doesn’t understand it though. Morse was, and still is, a soldier. He swore to protect Florence on her travels and that is exactly what he will do. He is a strong man, in mind and body, but his age is slowly conspiring against him. He knows that if he, and Florence, survive, it will be more about luck than anything else.

The plot is open ended in this one. Morse and Florence know she has a gift but don’t understand it. All they know is they have to keep travelling and the purpose of the gift will be revealed to them, when the time is right. As they travel through the desecrated country that used to be Great Britain, they come up against all kinds of troubles, and all kinds of monsters. In The Last Soldier, you go on that journey with them, whether you want to or not.

It’s hard to describe the feeling in this book. It’s harder to tell you what the two main characters go through without giving stuff away and I really do not want to do that. Obviously.

Thankfully though. This one does go back to the same sort of feeling as The Last Plague had, and it’s a feeling that genuinely scared me.

Rich Hawkins is bleak. His writing is bleak, and this bleakness is what makes it. The darkness that is so prevalent throughout this story is what makes it for me. Again. The end of the world is not something I have given much thought to in my life. Obviously, I have read many a book about the subject but they are all made up, right?

This trilogy, especially books one and three, have convinced me that this is exactly what it would be like, and to be honest? It scares the absolute shit clean out of me. The feeling of absolute nothingness and darkness and having no hope of ever surviving is so strong, it made me feel quite depressed while reading this story. I honestly think that if a scenario like this actually happened, I would have to take a quick way out. I certainly wouldn’t survive.

To be made to feel like this from reading a book? How cool is that? How many books have you read in your life that have made you think about, and plan, how you would deal with a specific situation if it ever happened to you? All that from the power of the written word? Written by someone who has this sort of imagination and the genius within them to turn it into a story that totally grips you to the point where you consider your own mortality? I think you will agree that that is some mighty powerful writing right there.

And Rich Hawkins did all of that to me.

I think I will just leave it there.

Now you know you must go and buy it.


General rating:
☆☆☆☆☆ wonderful.

Horror rating:
☆☆☆☆☆ wonderful again.


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Book Synopsis:

Her name is Florence, and she did not cry when the world ended.

Two years after Great Britain is devastated by an alien virus, a young girl and her ex-military guardian are drawn back to the mainland for reasons only known to the dark gift inside her head. It’s a gift neither she nor the old soldier trusts entirely, and their only hope is to obey its call into the wastelands. But is it a blessing or a curse? And will it deliver salvation or lead them to death?




Rich Hawkins hails from deep in the West Country, where a childhood of science fiction and horror films set him on the path to writing his own stories. He credits his love of horror and all things weird to his first viewing of John Carpenter’s THE THING. His debut novel THE LAST PLAGUE was nominated for a British Fantasy Award for Best Horror Novel in 2015. The sequel, THE LAST OUTPOST, was released in the autumn of 2015.

The final novel in the trilogy, THE LAST SOLDIER, was released in March 2016.

And for more about Rich, visit his site or find him on social media:

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