First published in May of 2013, US author Benjamin Percy’s second full-length novel ‘Red Moon’ was an ambitious take on an alternative history where mankind and lycans (werewolves) coexist.

DLS Synopsis:
Everything changed the moment a lycan burst out of the toilet on board Flight 373 bound from San Francisco to Portland and proceeded to slaughter every passenger on board.  Once the plane finally landed and the murderous lycan shot dead, the bloodbath that was revealed to the eyes of the world sparked off a chain reaction of fear and distrust against the lycan population who had been living in and amongst the citizens of the US.

However, when the forensic crew boarded the plane, they found amongst the carnage and bloodshed one sole survivor – seventeen-year-old Patrick Gamble.  A young boy who suddenly finds himself thrust into the public spotlight – the media quickly dubbing him the ‘Miracle Boy’.

The resulting backlash to the lycan attack on Flight 373 was inevitable.  Governor Chase Williams further fuels the fire by motivating the public with his anti-lycan stance.  Fear and hatred is being bred into the increasingly scared public.  And it’s not long before the segregation leads to outbreaks of violence.

And that’s exactly what sixteen-year-old Claire Forrester finds her and her family up against.  All of a sudden, their lycan family home is being attacked and Claire has no choice but to flee from their family home in the middle of the night.  And it’s whilst she is on the run from these anti-lycan authorities that she finds herself alone and confronted by a man who plans to rape her.  Luckily Patrick Gamble happens upon the attack before the would-be-rapist has a chance to take the matter any further.

However, around them the divide between the American population and the lycans is widening by the day.  Governor Chase Williams, under the guidance of his Chief of Staff, Augustus Remington, calls for drastic actions to be brought into action against the lycan population.  No longer can they live shoulder to shoulder.  And he proudly proclaims that it is no longer safe to co-exist with the lycans.

Meanwhile Claire has taken up residence with her aunt Miriam who has recently separated from the leader of the Lycan ‘Resistance Movement’ – Jeremy Saber.  But tension is running high across the US.  Within Old Mountain High School Patrick Gamble soon finds himself a target for bullies who don’t understand how he survived the lycan attack.  Pupils who would later grow into a human movement to oppose the lycans.

But alongside the Lycan Resistance Movement stands the Master Lycan – Bahor, who has his own ideas of the future for the lycan population.  Bahor is rallying the lycan population into drastic actions.  The people of the United States will soon understand the true power of the lycan threat.  All of America is theirs for the taking – if they have the ferocious guts to unleash such mass devastation.  A question of morality that doesn’t sit in consideration for very long with Bahor.

War is upon them.  The lycan and the humans are about to enter a whole new world of loss and oppression.  And one man with a red birthmark shaped like a half-moon next to his right eye is in the very thick of it all.  A terrifying change is in the air...

DLS Review:
Okay, so for a second full-length novel this is one heck of an ambitious story to take on.  Firstly the sheer (constantly escalating) scale of the tale is something that could easily lose the author (and indeed the reader) in the magnitude of the events being portrayed.  Indeed, a very close rein needs to be kept on the characters and their involvement in the spiralling plotline, in order to keep that reader/character connection that is so vital with tense and suspenseful tales.

Secondly, the incredibly serious social commentary that is (so blatantly) at the very heart of the story is a tricky one to pull off well.  The tale mirrors key historical moments such as the acts of terrorism from 9/11 and most notably the African-American Civil Rights Movement of 1955-68.  And to be fair, author Benjamin Percy has done a pretty good job in blending such strongly emotive events from our past into a fictional horror novel that raises its own points and opinions.

And so what have we got?  Well, the novel reads very much like a slowed down version of a Justin Cronin novel, with elements of John Prescott’s ‘Pray’ (2010), Walter Williams’ ‘The Rift’ (1998) and Stephen Norrington’s movie ‘Blade’ (1998) moulded into it.  Indeed, if you took Norrington’s co-existence of vampires from ‘Blade’ (1998) and replaced them with Prescott’s werewolves, then you’re at least half way there.  Throw the whole thing in with the racial tension of ‘The Rift’ (1998) and you’ve got yourself a plot that has the potential to grab you by the balls and drag you into swirling maelstrom of mayhem.

Alas, this is where the novel really falls down.  Percy fails to inject any degree of urgency into almost any of the storyline; leaving the tale a trudging and lengthy read without any real momentum pushing it along.  I admit this sounds odd from the sheer volume of ideas and multiple levels within the (somewhat grand) plot – and that’s not even mentioning the near-post-apocalyptic turn of events that the story later spirals into!

The chapters predominantly jump between the storylines of Patrick Gamble and Claire Forrester, along with following the rise of Governor Chase Williams to President and his anti-lycan campaign (which includes quite an inspired twist of fate).  However, it’s in the latter half of the book where the side-character of Miriam Saber begins to take on a more involved role, with her strength of character in the face of horrendous degrees of torture akin to the likes of Pierre Lemaître’s novel ‘Alex’ (2011).

And so what we’re left with is perhaps the very definition of a mixed-bag.  There’s plenty of meat in this thick tome of a novel for the reader to get their teeth into.  There’s a lot going on, and the sheer scale of the tale is something that is hard to not be at least a little drawn into.  However, the slow trudging pace combined with some serious sagging in the midsection of the novel leaves the whole tale feeling a little too much like a hard slog with very little reward.

The novel runs for a total of 530 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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