The entire time I was reading Blood Red Road by Moira Young, I kept seeing the scenes as though they were playing on a movie screen: hot, crowded, desperate, vivid. From the opening moments when Saba's family is torn apart as her twin brother Lugh is dragged away from the family's home in desolate Silverlake to the desperate measures taken near the end to retrieve him, the words kept painting a picture that burned themselves onto the screen in my mind. I kept thinking this one is destined for a screenplay, and yes, it has been optioned by Ridley Scott. Good move!
But back to the book...Saba is devastated when Lugh is inexplicably taken by four men in black following a massive red dust storm and immediately vows to rescue him, even though the men kill her father and she becomes saddled with her pesky younger sister Emmi. Thinking she can ditch Emmi on an old family friend is Saba's first mistake; this child is every bit as strong-willed as her older sister. The two take off on a rather shaky trail to find Lugh and soon find themselves prisoners of the decidedly weird Pinches; separated, Saba is forced to become a cage fighter, no nearer to her goal of finding her brother. She's sure, however, she can make it on her own, but the fates have other plans and suddenly the reclusive Saba has more help than she'd ever thought possible. And all that's just the beginning!
LOVED this novel, even if it being told in Saba's uneducated voice did take a bit of getting used to at first. The characters just leap off the pages, especially Saba herself, who has to learn to allow others to help and to own up to her own mistakes, particularly where her younger sister is concerned. The Free Hawks--girls who are determined to bring down the King--are well developed warriors, but it is Jack, the silver eyed boy who somehow captures Saba's heart who is the real gem. His sense of humor brings what could have been a truly depressing storyline some much needed levity, and the feelings he evokes in Saba are genuine and sweet. But there are so many more outstanding characters filling these pages: the Pinches, De Malo, the King, even Nero the crow all round out a story that shows the depth of a sister's devotion.
Blood Red Road does have a few faults, including Saba's voice/lack of spelling, but overall the faults are far outweighed by plain good old story telling. There's not a lot of extraneous detail and yet Ms. Young can place you in the middle of a cave or on horseback so that you can actually feel the setting with just a few sentences. I have a feeling that future installments will find Saba finding a way to restore order in a lawless land, but there could also be many other ways the storyline could play out. I'm along for the ride.