On the alien, sunless planet they call Eden, the 532 members of the Family shelter beneath the light and warmth of the Forest’s lantern trees. Beyond the Forest lie the mountains of the Snowy Dark and a cold so bitter and a night so profound that no man has ever crossed it.
The Oldest among the Family recount legends of a world where light came from the sky, where men and women made boats that could cross the stars. These ships brought us here, the Oldest say—and the Family must only wait for the travelers to return.
But young John Redlantern will break the laws of Eden, shatter the Family and change history. He will abandon the old ways, venture into the Dark…and discover the truth about their world.
So…I can’t figure out how I feel about this book.
On the one hand, it’s an interesting story and there are a lot of fascinating character dynamics. It’s refreshing to see a novel make such good use of oral storytelling as a narrative device, and it fits very well with some of the spiritual and allegorical themes. And the setting is literally out of this world, on an alien planet that feels remote, claustrophobic, and both frigid and tropical. I’ve seen some bloggers liken it to Pandora (of Avatar fame) due to its light coming for bioluminescent plants and animals rather than a star.
At the same time…I felt like for as imaginative as it was, there was a huge plot point in the last few pages that I was expecting just from the blurb. When it hit, it didn’t pack that visceral, emotional punch that would have at least made up for its obviousness. Instead, it fell somewhat flat.
There were also gender dynamics that I couldn’t quite disentangle. A Goodreads review thread explores this, specifically in relation to agency/power. I was more interested in sexual politics and this idea of men wanting to make the story all about them – which I found the novel guilty of doing!
I’m sure others will enjoy this book more (I can see some loving it); a sequel is in progress and will be published this year. I haven’t decided if I will pick it up.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. I selected the book based on my own preference, and all opinions are my own.