Today I am delighted to be taking part in the final day of the blog tour for The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith.
A compelling, emotive and disturbingly prescient thriller, The Waiting Rooms takes place in the very near future, when the antibiotic crisis has led to widespread death and a population in peril…
Decades of spiralling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. ordinary infections are untreatable, and a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics. The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘the Waiting Rooms’…hospitals where no one ever gets well.
Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything. Because Kate is not the only secret that her mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her, too.
Sweeping from an all-too-real modern Britain to a pre-crisis South Africa, The Waiting Rooms is epic in scope, richly populated with unforgettable characters, and a tense, haunting vision of a future that is only a few mutations away.
Wowser, this was one hell of a read! A few months back I may have called this dystopian but it’s actually quite terrifying how close to this reality we could be. Putting all that aside though, it is a rather wonderfully written thriller.
Imagine a world where a simply cut or bite could kill you. The prick from a brooch or thorn could mean the beginning of the end. Now also imagine a world where the cutoff age for medical treatment iss 70. The only effective medicine now available is so limited that it’s fiercly restricted. Eve brings this world to life in The Waiting Rooms and it’s really not far away from the world we live in today. In some ways it was absolutely terrifying to read but oh my was it gripping! Eve focuses on antibotic resistance, something that is very real all over the world. She pushes us to the extreme and makes us imagine what would happen if the drugs we are so reliant on now longer do their job. If the infections become smarter and impossible to treat.
So we have a great underlying plot and we also have well written, engaging characters that bring the story to life and drew me in. Mary and Piet working together in South Africa to find a cure for a particularly aggressive and drug-resistant TB, a form of TB that is spreading further afield. Kate is a nurse working in the UK with patients at the end of their life – her work is controversial and difficult. After losing her adoptive mother she decides to search for her birth mother. Lily is fast approcahing her 70th birthday. There are secrets in her past that she has worked hard to keep hidden but it seems someone has finally found her and is determined to make her pay for her mistakes.
Alternating between past and post crisis, the story is so well contructed and comes together beautifully, keeping the tension high and leaving me with no doubt how much we depend on the medication we take for granted today. There is a stark message here, no doubt about it. The world of masks and extreme hygiene too close for comfort now but here we see how much worse things can be, how much we, as humans, still have to learn. But this story is even more than that, it’s about impossible choices, hidden secrets, love, family and a past coming back to haunt you. It was brilliant and I literally consumed it in a day.
Thank you so much to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Thanks also to the lovely Karen at Orenda Books for sending me a review copy. It was yet another thrilling read. This was a superb debut and I very much look forward to seeing what Kate brigns us next.
The Waiting Rooms is available now in paperback and ebook.
About the author
Eve Smith writes speculative fiction, mainly about the things that scare her. She attributes her love of all things dark and dystopian to a childhood watching Tales of the Unexpected and black-anwhite Edgar Allen Poe double bills. In this world of questionable facts, stats and news, she believes storytelling is mor eimportant than ever to engage people in real life issues.
Her debut novel The Waiting Rooms was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize first Novel award. Her flash fiction has been shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and highly commended for The Brighton Prize.
When she’s not writing she’s romping across fields after her dog, trying to organise herself and her familt or off exploring somewhere new.