Title: Red Queen
Author: Honey Brown
Opening lines: ‘…I had come to know every line in my brother’s face …’
Blurb: Deep in the Australian bush, Shannon Scott is holed up in a cabin with his brother, Rohan, waiting out the catastrophic effects of worldwide disease and a breakdown of global economies. After months of isolation, Shannon imagines there’s nothing he doesn’t know about his older brother, or himself – until a mysterious woman slips under their late-night watch and past their loaded guns. Denny Cassidy is beautiful and a survivor. Her inclusion into cabin life brings about the need for a new set of rules. Dynamics within the cabin shift and soon loyalties are split, and trust is shattered. Before long, all three find themselves locked into a very different battle for survival.
My thoughts: RED QUEEN was Honey Brown’s debut novel and walked off with the 2009 Aurealis award for best horror novel. The Aurealis Awards were established in 1995 by Chimaera Publications, the publishers of Aurealis magazine, to recognise the achievements of Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror writers. Now I have to confess that I have always associated the genre of horror as books that contained horrific people-killing monsters of various types; but found out horror is actually defined as intended to scare, unsettle, or horrify the audience. RED QUEEN certainly did all three for me!
A deadly virus called ‘The Red Queen’ has killed millions of people around the world and survivors are holed up in various isolated spots shunning contact with other people. Rohan and Shannon are two brothers who have retreated into rural Victoria to a cabin that has been set up by their father in anticipation of a nuclear war. The two brothers are totally different characters, Shannon is the dreamer and Rohan the tough hunting, shooting, fishing bloke. Rohan is hard line and runs their little shack with non-negotiable rules, threats and guns; Shannon is often quite scared of his older brother. You can imagine their horror when a young woman manages to gain access to their home and remain undetected until the evening she just appears in the lounge room. The arrival of Denny changes everything between the two brothers and the reader just can’t figure out what is actually going on, what Denny is up to. Whatever it is she seems to be playing a very dangerous game. Is she a good guy or the enemy, Shannon doesn’t know and can’t figure it out, Rohan just uses and abuses her, and gives no indication of his thoughts. The tension builds as information is released by Honey Brown drip by drip – and it is the not knowing that builds the tension. There are some disturbing, but not surprising sex scenes, as well as some horrific violence and cruelty. But none of it is explicit and in your face, just a few words and the idea of what is happening is in your head without assaulting your mind. Without even realising you are on the edge of your seat Honey Brown manages to keep up the suspense until almost the very end when everything finally comes out in the open and truths are revealed.
Honey Brown’s writing is brilliant – there is not so much focus on the Red Queen virus other than it is out there and is the reason for isolation and the danger that the introduction of an unknown person represents. Her descriptions of the Australian bush that surrounds the cabin are so clear that you can see, hear and sadly sometimes smell the action. RED QUEEN is my first Honey brown book – and it will not be my last.
Rating: B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.
For more about the author – Click Here
Red Queen by Honey Brown is book # 9 for AWW2014