Redder Days by Sue Rainsford
First of all - thank you to Random House and Net Galley for the ARC in return for the honest review.
And honestly, this will probably be one of the shortest reviews I've ever written. I simply... don't know what to say about this book.
Let's start with the blurb:
"Twins Anna and Adam live in an abandoned commune in a volatile landscape where they prepare for the world-ending event they believe is imminent. Adam keeps watch by day, Anna by night. They meet at dawn and dusk.
Their only companion is Koan, the commune's former leader, who still exerts a malignant control over their daily rituals. But when one of the previous inhabitants returns, everything Anna and Adam thought they knew to be true is thrown into question.
Dazzling, strange and incredibly moving, Redder Days is a stunning exploration of the consequences of power wielded by the wrong hands, the emotional impact of abandonment, and the resilience of the human spirit in the most hopeless of situations."
The book is shelved under 'horror', which is appropriate in my opinion, as it plays with our innate fear of the unknown. For example, what the Red actually is, remains inconclusive, though many indicators suggest it's a disease of some kind. I think.
The reader follows multiple points of view, mainly the twins', but there's a few of them - Koan, and pieces together the shards of the plot to figure out what led to the current state of affairs, what is going on right now, and what is the possible way forward.
And here we're coming to the tricky bit as to why I'm not sure what to say about the book - there are plenty of questions posed by "Redder days", but the answers are scarce.
In itself, it's not a bad thing. After all, as a reader, there's nothing worse than being spoon-fed every bit of information and having no room for speculation and free-form thinking.
However, Sue Rainsford went to the other extreme - I felt like the room for speculation is the size of a hangar for a Dreamliner, and the information given are on the post-its scattered over it.
I don't think I ever referred to reviews as soon as I finished the book. However, on this occasion, I needed to check if other readers were on the same page as me, or was I alone feeling the plot went right above my head.
In the end, it left me without answers. Any answers. Where is the book happening? When is the book happening? What is the Red? Was the theme of incest needed at all?
I thought hard of how to describe "Redder days". The best I can come up with is that this book reads a bit like poetry.
The prose is deliberately disjointed. As if to throw you off the path to discovering what is going on, and whether there's hope. It does seem fitting with the overarching cult vibes, though in conjunction with multiple POVs, the plot, the characters, and the message slipped through my fingers.
The writing is beautiful, and Rainsford's uniquely odd word choices create an excellent atmosphere where reality is shrouded in mystery and readers are free to make their own conclusions regarding it.
I would recommend it to those who love dark literary books that masterfully use confusion and atmosphere to drive their themes.
-----Redder Days on Goodreads