Moira Young’s debut novel Blood Red Road is a proper epic adventure. From the opening scene in the white heat of a drying up lake bed with threatening figures on horseback appearing out of the dust cloud, it presents the reader with a series of thrilling scenes and unforgettable characters. No wonder Ridley Scott has bought the film rights.
In this harsh post-apocalyptic landscape Saba and her family just about scrape a living until the day the horsemen arrive, shoot her father dead and kidnap her beloved brother Lugh. Saba sets off to rescue him, accompanied by her pet crow Nero and her little sister, Emmi, though she does her best to leave Emmi behind.
Their journey is long and difficult of course! They have to cross the inhospitable Sandsea desert, but Hopetown, what’s left of civilisation, is even more dangerous, its inhabitants bloodthirsty and pitiless. Saba is forced to fight for her life in a kind of gladiatorial contest and survives only by surrendering to the ‘hot-red’, earning herself the nickname the Angel of Death.
As they continue their journey, the girls pick up a band of mismatched companions including the charismatic adventurer Jack, and members of a gang of female freedom fighters. By the end of the book Saba has recovered her humanity in full, though she’s never going to lose her sharp tongue!
The influences of other writers are clear — there’s a definite feel of Mortal Engines in the desert scenes – and Blood Red Road is heavily influenced by the Western (very much in vogue at the moment). But Moira Young has written a highly original, inventive and hugely engaging novel. A sequel is promised for 2012 and many readers, including myself, will be eager to reacquaint ourselves with the wonderful Saba!