Red Moon by Benjamin Percy
Time for another guest post from my better half. It’s werewolf related so I kinda had to let her read it. She is the expert after all. So without further ado over to @MadNad and her thoughts on Red Moon…
Every teenage girl thinks she’s different. When government agents kick down Claire Forrester’s front door and murder her parents, Claire realises just how different she is.
Patrick Gamble was nothing special until the day he got on a plane and, hours later, stepped off it, the only passenger left alive. A hero.
President Chase Williams has vowed to eradicate the menace. Unknown to the electorate, however, he is becoming the very thing he has sworn to destroy.
Each of them is caught up in a war that so far has been controlled with laws and violence and drugs. But an uprising is about to leave them damaged, lost, and tied to one another for ever.
The night of the red moon is coming, when an unrecognizable world will emerge, and the battle for humanity will begin.
In this alt-history, Lycans have co-existed with humans for hundreds of years, but they are segregated and discriminated against by their human neighbours and colleagues. While most Lycans live peaceably, some have formed a resistance to tackle the discrimination.
The story centres around two main protagonists, Claire and Patrick. Claire was living quietly in a suburban Lycan-only community with her family until it was attacked in retaliation for a terrorist attack by a Lycan on a plane, of which Patrick was the sole survivor. Their future is destined to be entangled.
Like any good story, it is ultimately a battle between good and evil. The good guys vs the bad guys. In this case, the good guys are not easily discernible. There are good and bad amongst the oppressed and oppressors. It’s not always black and white. I think I would have liked to have seen some more human sympathisers, as well as some more of the Lycan fundamentalists.
Red Moon has at its core themes of racism, segregation, and xenophobia. Parallels are very easily drawn between incidents in Percy’s alternate reality, and situations in the real world, past and present. You don’t have to go hunting for the rather obvious layers of allegory; they leap from behind the bushes right into your sights. From the freedom movement in the 60’s, the holocaust, 9/11, to present-day allied forces in the Middle East, the comparisons are clear.
Sometimes, it felt like the author had taken a historical event, and simply replaced one of the factions with lycanthropes. As a long-time werewolf fan, I have to wonder how, in a society where werewolves have been living among humans for hundreds of years, they have ended up as the er… underdog.
In this reality, humans outnumber the Lycans, but I would have thought that despite that, their superior strength would have put them above the humans, or at least shifted the balance of power sufficiently to being on even footings. When reading some of the real-life historical events reproduced in this book, I couldn’t help thinking that if one of the sides were indeed werewolves, things would have gone down quite differently to how they occurred in our reality. This means the method of regurgitating history, but just replacing one side with Lycans, sometimes didn’t work. I just think that I would have been happier if events had had a completely alternate outcome, and would have preferred Percy to fully commit to a truly alternate history.
I have always thought that should lycanthropy be a real thing (in the sense of this novel), that it would manifest as an infection. Percy goes out of his way to impress with his medical research. It came close to boring me after a while though. As a layman, there is only so much of the technical stuff I can absorb before losing interest.
The prose is largely sublime and beautifully constructed, whereas at other times it felt overly descriptive. Some of the visuals seemed a little… odd. There are a few loose endings scattered around, and I hope that this was deliberate as I feel that there is a sequel in this story.
I may sound like I am being quite critical of this book, and perhaps I am, but only because werewolves are a topic I am passionate about. It is still probably one of the best werewolf books I have read in a long time. It fully explores the duality of a Lycan; their caring, vulnerable human side, but also examining the bestial, primordial and animalistic nature of the Lycan. I would recommend this book to any reader, werewolf fan or not.