Only a small part of the world population is infected --- about 5% in total. They are held in check through medication and treatments involving prions, which do not cure the condition but decrease the infectivity and spread of the disease. What medicine cannot control has been covered by the government and necessary acts of violence. The condition has created a race of Lycans who possess the ability to drastically change their DNA and turn into rabid animals. They are viewed by most as a threat to the entire population.
This is the premise of the intriguing literary horror novel by Benjamin Percy, RED MOON. Straight horror titles are a slippery slope in publishing these days, and it is difficult to have a successful literary hit with one. Those who have had success --- Stephen King, Peter Straub, etc. --- have had to temper their books with a certain literary approach that allows them to be seen as more than just horror novels but respectable works of literature.
"RED MOON is an epic novel --- broad and highly detailed in scope --- that undoubtedly will please fans of serious literary fiction rather than readers of the Twilight saga. "
Percy has been able to achieve this balance with RED MOON. Nowhere here are there references to werewolves, and the reader will not notice any anguishing transformation scenes that we have come to expect from films on this topic. Rather, the book treats the Lycan population as any person with a rare disease would be treated. In this imaginary reality where Lycans exist, the expected political and socio-economic issues that are sure to follow are quite evident.
Although there are many Lycans depicted in RED MOON, the narrative is driven by three specific characters. Young Patrick Gamble boards an airplane filled with passengers when a major disruption begins. As the dust settles and the plane lands, Patrick is the only passenger left alive. As he grows up during the novel and begins to embrace what he really is, Patrick will play a major role in the battle for Lycans and find his true love in the process.
Claire Forrester witnesses her mom and dad being grabbed in the middle of the night by a team of government agents and slain before her very eyes. Through her Aunt Miriam, she learns of her pedigree and the important role her parents played. Claire goes to a special college where her studies open her eyes to what Lycans are all about and why the U.S. government feared her parents. She also falls in love with a young man named Patrick, and their fates are forever bound together.
The last character in the trio is the most visible of the group. Chase Williams is a government representative with his eye on the nation’s highest office: President. He is sworn to protect his fellow citizens and do whatever it takes to stop the Lycan threat --- all the while keeping the deep, dark secret about his true identity from all but his closest advisors.
RED MOON is an epic novel --- broad and highly detailed in scope --- that undoubtedly will please fans of serious literary fiction rather than readers of the Twilight saga. The characters are all multi-faceted and believable, and you will find yourself rooting for the Lycans in spite of yourself. Percy scores big with this genre-crossing novel in a way that will make him an author to watch out for in the near future.
Reviewed by Ray Palen on June 14, 2013