Really, all I want to write is ‘this book is so brilliantly written and the story is so great go and get a copy now’ but I’ll try to be a little more forthcoming. It’s not easy though, because I know that nothing I can say will match up to how much I enjoyed reading Red Moon. And not only that, but it addresses huge social and political issues in the guise of an all-action butt-kicking werewolf story. Yeah, take that, genre vs. literary fiction argument – I just read a book that talks about serious stuff and has lycans in it.
The lycans in Red Moon are not the supernatural kind, rather they are humans infected with a specific disease that crossed over from infected wolves centuries ago. It is the same class of disease as Mad Cow Disease; the medical details are carefully laid out in the novel, giving it an authenticity that I loved. Drugs have been developed to control the effects, pacifying and neutralising the wolf within. In the USA it is compulsory to take the medicine, lycans are forbidden from changing into their wolf-selves. Unsurprisingly not everyone is content with this state of affairs, and the book opens with a shocking act of terrorism. This announces the beginning of a renewed struggle against repression. It also stimulates the anti-lycan agenda.
America is already deeply mired in lycan politics, as the military presence in the Lycan Republic. This territory in the frozen landscape between Finland and Russia is supposed to be a homeland for those that want to be all of themselves, wolf included. The discovery of uranium in the region altered things, and the US military are the guardians of the area. Military intervention tied to economic gain is so overtly cynical here that a resistance movement feels inevitable. Bringing the fight to American soil raises the stakes, and the fall-out is not going to be pretty.
The main characters in the story come from all sides of the arguments. Claire wants nothing than more than to escape her parents and hometown for something more exciting. Caught up in the government clampdown post-terrorist attack she finds herself cut loose from everything she’s known; be careful what you wish for. Patrick has seen the fury of the resistance movement at first hand and has a father serving in the Republic, a prime candidate for the anti-lycan group active at his school. Miriam is trying to remain ex-resistance despite the aggressive persuasion of her nemesis Puck. Chase is a hale and hearty politician making his way to the White House with his outspoken policies. The Tall Man is a creepy presence, stalking Claire for her family connections. And there are more, shadowy players stirring the bubbling pot. Peel back the layers of paranoia and conspiracy and you’ll find something even worse than you originally thought.
There’s nothing simplistic about the way the story is constructed. Right and wrong are shades of grey here, and the ramifications of decisions play out across the whole book. It’s clever and marvellous, it’s violent, visceral, and unrelenting. I didn’t want it end and I had to know what was going to happen next. And the epilogue is a work of evil genius in its own right. I loved Red Moon with a passion far beyond my expectations. Read it now, before it gets made into an HBO series (someone please make that happen).
I had a proof copy of Red Moon from my Waterstones bookselling days, thank you lovely Hodder peeps. It is out now Hardback.