‘No Dominion’ and the Plague Times trilogy by Louise Welsh are fantastic reads. They are a very zeitgeist mixture of psychological suspense and apocalyptical fiction.
Louise Welsh, who studied history, has a deep-rooted interest in plagues such as the Black Death in Afro-Eurasia in the XIV century. Louise Welsh is also a successful and bestselling author of much psychological suspense, including ‘The Girl on the Stairs’ and ‘The Cutting Room’. She is known for her captivating but flawed protagonists that are coming off the page in ‘No Dominion’.
‘No Dominion’ is set at present times, and the depiction of the illness in the novel, i.e. the Sweats, is purely fictional. It is not as far-reaching as the Covid-19 pandemic, but it has certain resemblances. This makes the novel very timely.
This futuristic novel comes late in the trilogy, but the elements of world-building are not overwhelming and well inter-woven with the characters’ story. The linear time in the course of the pandemic is well-depicted. We move from the outburst (‘A Lovely Way to Burn’) to the height of the Sweats (‘Death is a Welcome Guest’) to the aftermath and later the second outburst (‘No Dominion’). The latter novel is set seven years after the outburst of the Sweats. The characters moved on with their lives since the second instalment. Magnus McFall, a stand-up comedian on the run from prison for the crime he had not committed, is now a foster father to an unruly adolescent, Shug. Stevie Flint, who before the Seats was a TV shopping channel host, continues her rule of the island, remains single, but the novel introduces an exciting backstory that is not set anywhere else in the novel. Both characters met briefly at the end of the second instalment, but it is only in ‘No Dominion’ that both characters truly interact.
The book could succeed as a standalone, as despite having reoccurring characters throughout the trilogy, it is a story in its one name, with a clear message set out in the prologue about the dangers of raising children. Shug and his generation are put at the forefront of the story. This message is well inserted into the world-building in this novel, where the Sweats makes it difficult to have children. And this clear message resemblance the successes of the number 1 bestsellers such as ‘Gone Girl’ or ‘Before I Go to Sleep.’ The former is the story of a marriage getting wrong. The latter portrays the story of fears of getting old.
The book is the final piece of the aforementioned trilogy and provides a heart-wrenching ending to the lives of the main characters, i.e. Stevie Flint and Magnus McFall. The latter dies helping his adopted son, Shug. This makes the ending very compelling. It is personally my favourite ending in the novel written by Louise Welsh (but I haven’t read all her books!) The novel is focused mainly on the journey of the main characters to find fleeting children and charge them with murder. There are other suspects of the said crimes as well. The geography portrayed in this book is very rich. We move from the Orkney Islands to Glasgow. The reader is taken even on a flight in a self-maintained helicopter.
Personally, I have been a great fan of Louise Welsh ever since I had read ‘The Girl on the Stairs.’ The Plague Trilogy is clear evidence that she gets better with every book. I just can’t wait to read the sequel to ‘The Cutting Room.’