Redder Days is a dystopian tale set in a semi-abandoned commune; teenage twins Anna and Adam remain with ex-commune leader Koan. The commune is in an unknown setting but it is close to the shore and a forest, while much of the ground bubbles with volcanic disturbance.
Anna and Adam prepare for STORM; an end of the world prediction. Each day at dawn and dusk they kneel for devotion and prayer. Then Anna keeps watch through the night and Adam has the day shift. What they fear most is a red disease; something which turns humans and animals into monsters.
The commune was created by a group who wanted to escape this red disease. During the heyday of the commune, Koan’s leadership was strict; women giving birth did so in a farrowing room with only Koan in attendance. He alone controlled the fate of each babe, with those who survived being ‘educated’ by Koan; we learn about this via accounts from the twins.
The chapters go back and forth between Anna and Adam, with some chapters from Koan’s diaries and a sprinkling of others from a former commune inhabitant, Matthew. This is quite a slow gruesome story, with little let up of the pacing, even at the end. It deals with indoctrination, survival and incest. The subject matter is disturbing and the style of the narration added to the overall atmosphere with no light relief, which I found made it hard to read.
The author has also chosen to use an experimental style of prose and it did feel awkward to read. Particularly the over-use of subordinate clauses as well as dialogue with no speech marks. I can understand wanting to make your work different, but it had me re-reading some lines believing I was missing something, which became a distraction from the main narrative. I know there will be a market for this type of writing, but it isn’t for me at this time; experimental styles need a lot of skill to carry off.
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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, unsettling and incredibly moving, Redder Days is a stunning exploration of the consequences of corrupted power, the emotional impact of abandonment, and the endurance of humanity in the most desperate of situations.
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