Compared with the "After The Fire" trilogy which I've just reviewed, this book is quite short, only half as long as single volume of AtF. It belongs to the distinctly less optimistic brand of "post-disaster" story, in the tradition of John Christopher rather than the "cosier" disasters of John Wyndham.
In Scotland, in the immediate aftermath of the Plague, most people are still "scavenging" off the leftovers from the Old Times. There has been only very limited work on rebuilding a self-sustaining society, and indeed serious questions are raised about its possibility. Will those who try be simply setting themselves up as natural victims for those who prefer robbery to hard work?
Incidentally, this raises a thought about the common complaint that the "Survivors" characters are rather too "middle class". Once the petrol and diesel's gone, might this be so far wrong? In a world where motor transport is either nonexistent or at best a luxury reserved for emergencies, the ability to ride a horse could be a big advantage, and these days upper and middle class folk are more likely to have acquired this skill. Maybe "toffs" like Garland or the Laird really would inherit the earth. But even if so, in this book it clearly hasn't had time to happen.
One of the few cheerful notes is where a man goes around local farms releasing all the animals he can find, both for humane reasons, feeling they "deserve a chance" and to preserve game or livestock for later human survivors. This was a thought that occasionally crossed my mind, but which I don't recall seeing in Survivors or any book etc on the theme.
Crossley gives some information, through several viewpoint characters (as in AtF) on the cause of the disaster, apparently a "war on terror" which escalated with a vengeance. There is a touch of Survivors in the book, where Emma echoes Abby's prayer that she is not the only one left alive. We also get the phenomenon of obsolete thinking carried on into the new environment, with the terrorist still fighting her old battles in a world where friend and foe alike are now all but extinct.
I was mildly amused and flattered that one of the communities is mentioned as being led by "a Mormon gentleman". Don't suppose he meant me, though.
In short, a good book, and for me a good read, if maybe not for those who like happy endings.