The world has been hit by a disaster commonly known as Dragonscale. I loved that term, describing the hardening and drying of the skin but also hinting of much worse to come. And yes, spontaneous combustion is the likely outcome of anyone who becomes infected.
At the start of the story the plague is already raging through the country though that fact isn’t widely accepted. But as more and more of the disease becomes evident and people are seen burning to death civilisation inevitably falls into rag-tag pockets of isolated communities surviving any way they can.
Harper is the main character, pregnant and alone after fleeing from her husband whose solution to the problem she will not endorse. She is a nurse, a capable woman who finds her way though and becomes a strong force for reason in a world increasingly dominated by characters who want a new order, set by their own quirky and sometimes highly destructive rules.
This is a great story, set against an apocalyptic background but, for me, was somewhat spoiled by its huge length and the character’s tendency for long recollections of life before the ‘storm’. Of course backstory is vital to get to know and care about characters but I felt that cutting quite a lot of that out would have tightened the story and given it more impact. I had a tendency to skim certain parts and that is always off-putting for me. Nevertheless a great idea. This is my first Joe Hill book. I will try him again.