Thanks to NetGalley and Evolved Publishing for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: What happens when everything you believed turns out to be a lie?
Every child of Eden fears the red Death. All those afflicted with the plague die young, their souls stripped away as punishment for ancient sins long forgotten. Guardians have protected Eden from the Red Death by killing outsiders who stray to close.
Seventeen-year-old Aliss is a highly-trained Guardian, but when her rather odd thirteen-year-old brother Wilky, discovers a cure to the plague, her world turns upside down. Branded as traitors by the corrupt High Priest, Aaliss and Wilky are forced to seek refuge in the last place Aaliss thought she’d ever go–beyond the boundaries of Eden and into the land of the Soulless. Here they must navigate a medieval world with witches, magic, and warrior kingdoms run by Elders only a few years older than her.
Aaliss yearns to return home, but when her heart tugs her deeper into the world of the Soulless, she questions everything she once believed. Has her soul been taken? Will she and Wilky fall victim to the Red Death, or might they die sooner in the center of a battle that threatens to tear apart the Soulless world? Or…might Aaliss finally find, against all odds, what her heart has yearned for all along?
Red Death is a great example of how an author can write a short book or novella and successfully create a rich fantasy or dystopian world filled with complex characters that readers will become attached to. I’m going to admit, I requested this purely because of the hype. I figured with it being just a little over 200 pages, what did I have to lose? By the time I had reached the last page I was shocked at how much I enjoyed it! The story is told in the third person POV of multiple characters, but I was never once confused. I didn’t even need to use the link to the glossary of characters that the publisher thoughtfully included at the end of each chapter. Aaliss of course, is the lead character and is reminiscent of Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games. Her relationship with her thirteen-year-old brother Wilky, who’s a genius, but has autistic-like tendencies, is at the heart of the story. The other characters all have equally interesting backstories which begin separately but come together by the end. My one and only criticism is that I found the romance between Eamon, the Prince of the Butchers–a so-called “Soulless” tribe–and Aaliss to be rather tepid, but it didn’t play a huge role in the storyline so it didn’t fill me with overwhelming annoyance. The world-building was mind-boggling given the brevity of the book. It mixed high fantasy elements with those you’d find in dystopian fiction that was truly unique. Overall, Red Death is an exciting and imaginative read that’s perfect for both YA and adult fans of these genres. I’m completely hooked and I can’t wait for the next book, The Ghost King which is due to be released in 2017!