RED QUEEN - H.M. Brown
There's an immediate dive into the here and now with the opening chapter, each of which is a self contained character study, and each chapter grouping is titled appropriately. Honey Brown touches gently on each chapter as if it were in preparation for a scene change in a film or play.
This kind of novel usually does offer up some futuristic and frightening prophecy for the future with a moral message that can't be avoided, rather like the surfer riding the wave of catastrophe. The biological concoction that is Red Queen is not explained in any great detail, so you are required to take it on board without really knowing how it is going to affect the outcome. The virus itself is not of great importance, more a means to the end of placing these people in such isolated and stressful circumstances.
Despite a couple of corny endorsements bandied about upon the release of this novel, you truly won't be up all night finishing this novel. It is only a short piece of work. Yes it is a psychological thriller and with all good reads of this kind, the plot is organically determined by the nuances and subtleties of the character's interaction. The author has straddled the fence between thriller and drama novel with this work, despite its science fiction premise. It is not a technical how-to survival novel by any means, and there's no slow march of blank eyed zombies to encounter. Australians wanting to read a disaster novel set uniquely in their home turf won't find it makes much of a difference as this novel could just has easily been set in the Canadian Rockies or some other isolated and rugged environment.
RED QUEEN is economically styled with a nice eye to the baser instincts of man in extreme circumstances. As a debut novel it serves well to introduce H.M. Brown as a new talent and will be one of those novels talked about in book clubs and readers groups with great interest.
Shannon and Rohan Scott have retreated to their family's cabin in the Australian bush to escape a virus-ravaged world. After months of isolation, Shannon imagines there's nothing he doesn't know about his older brother, or himself – until a stranger slips under their late-night watch and past their loaded guns.
Reluctantly the brothers take the young woman into their fold, and the dynamic within the cabin shifts. Possessiveness takes hold, loyalties are split, and trust is shattered. Before long, all three find themselves locked into a very different battle for survival.