The Last to Drown

I’ve been meaning to get to Lorraine Wilson’s work for some time because it has been clear from the way she’s getting reviewed by others that she’s a special talent. Having a book of hers in the Luna Press novella series was a perfect opportunity. And it turns out that my esteemed colleagues are dead right about her ability.

The Last to Drown is a story about Tinna, a young woman who was born in Iceland but now lives in Scotland. Two things about her life are important. The first is that, when she and her brother were very young, her mother and her aunt fell out, and her mother took her family off to the UK. The other is that Tinna has been in a car accident. She has some horrific injuries, but her beloved husband, Ben, is dead.

Wilson is something of an expert in writing about trauma. It is her thing, apparently.

Tinna has chosen to visit the old family home on the coast of Iceland and stay with her aunt Lilith as her body tries to recover from its injuries. It is soon obvious that aunt Lilith is deeply superstitious, as she won’t let Tinna go anywhere near the sea and refuses to explain why. Is this perhaps what Tinna’s mother and aunt fell out over? The trouble is, as anyone who has ever contemplated suicide knows, the sea can hold a fatal fascination.

This, then, is a story about grief, and the inability to let it go. If you can’t, it can easily consume you. That may mean that you don’t want to go on living. It may also be powerful enough to bring you back from the dead to wreak vengeance on those who caused your loss.

The Last to Drown is great little book, and Wilson is clearly a superb writer, albeit one who produces work that can be very difficult to read, especially if you are emotionally fragile yourself. Well done to Francesca and the Luna Press team for discovering her. I understand that Wilson’s latest book, Mother Sea, is from a literary small press, and I was delighted to spot it on the shelves in Blackwells when I was in Oxford.

book cover
Title: The Last to Drown
By: Lorraine Wilson
Publisher: Luna Press Publishing
Purchase links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
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