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Red Side Story: A Shades of Grey Novel


Red Side Story: A Shades of Grey Novel

For many years, readers of SHADES OF GREY have been holding out hope that there would be a sequel. The story of Eddie Russett and the bizarre world he inhabited needed to be revisited. And for years, Jasper Fforde promised that a further tale was in the offing.

With the publication of RED SIDE STORY, that promise has been fulfilled.

Eddie, our fearless narrator, is back, and he is about to be married to Violet deMauve. The rules here remain the same: the citizenry can only see one natural color with differences in saturation. Your place within society is defined by the shade you see. It factors into your job prospects, the depth (or shallowness) of your marriage pool, and even the class in which you will be permitted to exist. And, just for fun, everyone is affixed with a barcode.

Did I mention the killer swans?

"Fforde’s worldbuilding in RED SIDE STORY continues to be equal parts 1984 and something from the mind of the late, great Terry Pratchett."

Never mind about that. RED SIDE STORY picks up in the aftermath of the events of the prior installment. Do you need to read that book? Well, yes. You should. However, Fforde does provide a pretty solid explanation of things early on if you want to fudge your way past it. But to be honest, you definitely should begin with SHADES OF GREY.

As I was saying, Eddie is due to be married to Ms. deMauve, but nothing ever comes easy in this society. His life is about to be turned upside down by many factors, not the least of which is the reintroduction of Jane Grey, the woman he loved from the first book. Jane can see the color Green. Just a little, but enough. That places her on the opposite side of the color spectrum from Eddie, who sees Red. This makes their “friendship” illegal in the eyes of the Colourtocracy.

Rules in this world are enforced with great vigor. Mistakes, though sometimes made, are never corrected. Now Eddie is on trial for a murder he did not commit. And to make matters worse, he discovers that he is not Eddie Russett at all.

Fforde’s worldbuilding in RED SIDE STORY continues to be equal parts 1984 and something from the mind of the late, great Terry Pratchett. It is horrifying in the dystopia and the authoritarian way of such tales, yet the spin he puts on it is amusing and frequently laugh-out-loud funny. Oftentimes you can equate elements of our present world with the story and see the foundations, and sometimes he is a little too obvious and up front about it.

Nothing, though, takes away from the great wit and fun to be had here. Reading it, you know you are embroiled in a fantastical Jasper Fforde tale. By the time you turn the final page, you will be sorrowful at its end.

Here’s to hoping a third installment is not a decade away.

Now about those killer swans…

Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard on June 8, 2024

Red Side Story: A Shades of Grey Novel
by Jasper Fforde