Red Moon

( 23 )

Overview

"A werewolf epic. Can't stop thinking about it."—Stephen King

They live among us.

They are our neighbors, our mothers, our lovers.

They change.

When government agents kick down Claire Forrester's front door and murder her parents, Claire realizes just how different she ...

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Overview

"A werewolf epic. Can't stop thinking about it."—Stephen King

They live among us.

They are our neighbors, our mothers, our lovers.

They change.

When government agents kick down Claire Forrester's front door and murder her parents, Claire realizes just how different she is.

Patrick Gamble was nothing special until the day he got on a plane and hours later stepped off it, the only passenger left alive, a hero.

Chase Williams has sworn to protect the people of the United States from the menace in their midst, but he is becoming the very thing he has promised to destroy.

So far, the threat has been controlled by laws and violence and drugs. But the night of the red moon is coming, when an unrecognizable world will emerge...and the battle for humanity will begin.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

One early reviewer described this novel aptly as "a supernatural thriller [that] is a blend of alternate history and weird fiction that holds a mirror up to contemporary America to reflect its fears and biases." Mixing werewolves, opportunistic politicians and radical resistance groups, Benjamin Percy's Red Moon manages to hold our interest even as he conjures up a haunting portrait of a country sliding into the very tyranny that its very vocally attacks. A nifty, well-written choice for crossover readers.

Publishers Weekly
Reviewed by Stefan Dziemianowicz. Benjamin Percy’s extraordinary new supernatural thriller is a blend of alternate history and weird fiction that holds a mirror up to contemporary America to reflect its fears and biases.The novel opens with scenes that will resonate powerfully for anyone attuned to global events of the past decade: a father saying goodbye to his son before the father, a military reservist, deploys to a remote country where a fanatical sect holds sway, and an engineered terrorist attack that brings three jetliners down on American soil in a single day. In both instances, the antagonists are not jihadists, but lycans: lupine shapeshifters who have lived among regular humans since prehistoric times, and who in 21st-century America are a stigmatized subclass, forced to suppress their bestial nature pharmacologically. In quick succession, Percy introduces the characters who are the major players in his novel’s drama: teenager Patrick Gamble, the sole survivor of the airplane attacks; Claire Forrester, a teenage lycan on the run from government agents who killed her parents; Chase Williams, the opportunistic governor of Oregon (where most of the tale is set) who hopes to exploit fears engendered by the terrorist attack in his bid for the presidency; and Miriam, Claire’s aunt, who has defected from the lycan resistance movement (headed by her husband), which takes credit for the terrorist attacks. Patrick briefly falls in with a group of scary antilycan skinheads who call themselves “the Americans” before befriending Claire. Patrick’s father becomes a victim in the military occupation of the Lupine Republic, which is situated between Russia and Finland but is seemingly modeled on Iraq and Afghanistan. Chase becomes infected with the lobos prion that causes lycanthropy, and struggles to hide this from the public until a vaccine can be perfected. And the resistance, responding to increasingly inflammatory antilycan laws, plots ever more outrageous terrorist acts that escalate to an explosive denouement. Percy lends his novel’s events credibility by working out a convincing pathology and epidemiology for the lobos prion, and situating the lycan struggle at the center of historical moments that echo 20th-century eugenics experiments, the civil rights movement, the ’60s Days of Rage, and the current “war on terror,” whose rhetoric he adapts brilliantly to his story’s purposes. His precision-crafted prose conveys an astonishing amount of detail in as few words as necessary, as in this description of Claire’s lupine transformation: “Her bones stretch and bend and pop, and she yowls in pain, as if she is giving birth, one body coming out of another.” The confidence and assuredness with which Percy tells his story compel him to take some risks that pay off in a shocker of a finale that follows through audaciously on the possibilities of his tale’s premise. By tapping the zeitgeist of the contemporary sociopolitical climate and distilling it into a potent myth concerned with the tyranny of the majority and the demonization of the Other, he has written an ambitious, epic novel that deserves to reach a larger readership beyond genre audiences. Stefan Dziemianowicz is co-editor of Supernatural Literature of the World: An Encyclopedia.
Justin Cronin
"Percy has a lusty flair for describing destruction. . . . When Claire and Patrick take the field, the book lights up, and the writing possesses a resonant, emotional honesty. . . . The story is imaginative and lots of fun, and it will deservedly charm many readers."
USA Today
"Atmospheric . . . While some writers of paranormal novels wrap their creatures in romance and comic subplots, Percy has chosen a darker, more literary path. Red Moon is a morality tale cloaked in fur, fangs and social injustice. Werewolves are the monsters in the story, but the bête noire is humanity's moral decline."
Roxane Gay
"[Percy] deftly negotiates the delicate balance between crafting commentary and a compelling literary creation. . . . A gripping and violent story."
New York Observer
"Don't mistake this book for anything less than a great literary achievement; Red Moon is, in all likelihood, the most well-written werewolf novel you will come across."
Nylon
"Evocative, poetic prose...Percy's panoramic portrait is a welcome addition to literary horror."
Christian Science Monitor
"Audaciously complex and hauntingly composed. . . . [Percy] ballasts his nightmare with a poet's more natural magic. . . . Fear, this book reminds us, is a beast that's always hungry."
Entertainment Weekly's "Must List"
"Percy's latest novel is a smart, action-packed political thriller. . . . It's a high-wire literary act that the author pulls off with panache."
Entertainment Weekly (grade: A-)
"Percy is an ace world-builder, creating a massive cast of characters and a surprisingly believable alternate history. . . . Devastating and darkly funny."
Chicago Tribune
"Terrifying and tense."
O Magazine
"[A] stunning new read."
Vanity Fair
"...a terrifically hairy werewolf novel."
Ron Charles
"Smart and brisk and often poetic...Percy knows how to draw intense, dramatic scenes as the world goes feral."
The Guardian (UK)
"Red Moon is that rare beast, a genre novel that is literary, politically aware and thought-provoking."
All You Editors
"Packed with suspense, political intrigue and an against-the-odds romance, Percy's latest has all the makings of a summer blockbuster. . . . If you toss this supernatural thriller into your beach bag you're unlikely to regret it."
Tampa Bay Times
"A powerfully written alternative history."
Austin Chronicle
"A heady mix of political allegory and urban fantasy. . . . Percy is a skilled writer, able to sympathetically portray both sides of this conflict, never resorting to a good-vs.-evil delineation. His novel examines the themes of race, religion, social injustice, and the war on terror while also providing a provocative update on the werewolf mythos. . . . Those looking for some contemporary politics mixed in with their modern horror will definitely find something to sink their teeth into."
The Strand
"RED MOON is a complex novel, and a thriller of real power. The action sequences are fast moving, often gruesome, and delivered with an edge-of-the-seat pace. The descriptive scenes can take your breath away with the power of the writing."
The Oregonian
"It would be tempting, or at least easier, to put Percy's book in the werewolf subgenre, but Red Moon is much more than that. Dark, bloody, violent, relentlessly grounded in the post-9/11 world and the Pacific Northwest, not without humor but sparing in its application, Red Moon could well serve as the Heart of Darkness of a new, more anxious generation, one that must somehow come to terms with the enemies, real or perceived, who live quietly among us."
Booklist (starred review)
"A splendid read. . . . Percy focuses on a trio of engaging and beautifully drawn characters. . . . [Percy] humanizes the werewolf, turning him from snarling beast into a creature for whom we feel compassion and affection."
The Missourian
"The prose in this page-turner is purposefully cinematic. . . . Reading Red Moon involves a personal connection with a diverse set of characters, some of whom we may recognize. Percy seems to foster this connection, hoping we relate on a grand scale of humanity. He challenges readers to acknowledge a kinship with the enemy and to 'make yourself heard. Howl.'"
The Inlander (Spokane)
"One of America's promising young writers. . . . [Percy] crafts sentences that drip with the same drool of the lycans who both terrorize and save his protagonists. . . . Literary fiction with a menacing tone, a thrilling pace, and no shortage of bloody imagery."
Book Page
"Spellbinding . . . RED MOON is a cross between Stephen King and the Michael Chabon of The Yiddish Policeman's Union . . . . A fat, multilayered page-turner. . . . If you haven't read Percy, get started."
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"A remarkably rendered speculative history of America as well as a gripping grisly horror story... Complex, clever and on occasion wonderfully ironic."
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"A remarkably rendered speculative history of America, as well as a gripping, grisly horror story. . . . Poetic . . . In Percy's plagued fictional reality the allegorical connections to current affairs are complex and clever."
The Nervous Breakdown
"I can't think of another book that is more timely and relevant to the world we live in at this precise moment-the post-September 11th, post-Boston Marathon bombing landscape of heightened xenophobia and security-than Red Moon."
Wisconsin State Journal
"Engrossing. . . . Readers shopping for some juicy literary horror to bite into this summer, perhaps starring hungry werewolves, would do well to pick up Benjamin Percy's Red Moon. . . A beast of a tale. . . . tense, slick and as gory as anything you'll read. But Percy's story possesses an unexpected depth, one that forces the reader to hold up a mirror and examine some uncomfortable prejudices."
Tom Franklin
"There's no other way to say it: Benjamin Percy has written a stunner, a genre-bending novel of suspense and terror but with Percy's usual force-of-nature language and his deep insights into character. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough, nor could I put it down."
LA Times
"An intelligent, topical thriller."
Stefan Dziemianowicz
"Extraordinary. . . . An ambitious, epic novel. . . . Holds a mirror up to contemporary America to reflect its fears and biases."
-Tom Franklin
"There's no other way to say it: Benjamin Percy has written a stunner, a genre-bending novel of suspense and terror but with Percy's usual force-of-nature language and his deep insights into character. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough, nor could I put it down."
Booklist
"A splendid read. . . . Percy focuses on a trio of engaging and beautifully drawn characters. . . . [Percy] humanizes the werewolf, turning him from snarling beast into a creature for whom we feel compassion and affection."
Kirkus Reviews
Percy tries his hand at horror in his latest novel. Here, he envisions a world divided between those infected with a disease that turns them into lycans and those who are disease free. Patrick climbs aboard a plane headed to his mother's as his military father leaves for an assignment. After takeoff, a lycan wreaks havoc, killing everyone in the cabin area except for Patrick, who hides under a pile of dead bodies. Dubbed "Miracle Boy" by the media, the teen tries to live down his instant fame but seems destined instead to be haunted by it. Meanwhile, lycan Claire witnesses the terrifying murder of her parents and flees ahead of the mysterious avenging agency that seems dedicated to killing off the lycan population. A man with questionable character who may or may not run for president, a woman married to a lycan ringleader and a lycan rebel round out the large cast of characters in this novel about the struggle between the lycans and their uninfected counterparts. At stake: the lycan nation's place in society and a country that was once theirs and the toll the escalating war between the two is taking. The smaller story follows the growing romance between Patrick and Claire. Running with gore--almost every page drips blood--and soaked in violence, the book switches back and forth between characters. Percy elbows his way into the horror genre, adding literary polish along the way, but this tale rambles on much too long, with page after page of superfluous detail. Percy leans toward colorful and obscure terms or word usages that will propel many casual readers to pause and pull out their dictionaries, often with unsatisfying results. Percy births an interesting concept that he then submerges in a writing style that is both affected and self-consciously literary.
From the Publisher
Praise for Red Moon:

"Benjamin Percy is one of the most gifted and versatile writers to appear in American publishing in years. His degree of craft and natural talent are extraordinary; his ear for language is absolutely perfect. His prose has the masculine power of Ernest Hemingway's, but also the sensibilities and compassion of Eudora Welty. His writing is like a meeting of Shakespeare and rock 'n' roll. Benjamin Percy knows how to keep it in E-major, and what a ride it is."—James Lee Burke, author of Feast Day of Fools

"Red Moon is a serious, politically symbolic novel-a literary novel about lycanthropes. If George Orwell had imagined a future where the werewolf population had grown to the degree that they were colonized and drugged, this terrifying novel might be it."—John Irving

"With Red Moon one of our most blazingly gifted young writers stakes his claim to national attention. Benjamin Percy has one great advantage over most writers who attempt 'literary horror': he understands the literature of real horror from the inside out, and he speaks it like a native. This is a novel with the power to thrill and transport, also to lead the reader well out of her comfort zone and into emotional territory few people have ever seen."—Peter Straub

James Lee Burke
Praise for Red Moon:

"Benjamin Percy is one of the most gifted and versatile writers to appear in American publishing in years. His degree of craft and natural talent are extraordinary; his ear for language is absolutely perfect. His prose has the masculine power of Ernest Hemingway's, but also the sensibilities and compassion of Eudora Welty. His writing is like a meeting of Shakespeare and rock 'n' roll. Benjamin Percy knows how to keep it in E-major, and what a ride it is."

Peter Straub
"With Red Moon one of our most blazingly gifted young writers stakes his claim to national attention. Benjamin Percy has one great advantage over most writers who attempt 'literary horror': he understands the literature of real horror from the inside out, and he speaks it like a native. This is a novel with the power to thrill and transport, also to lead the reader well out of her comfort zone and into emotional territory few people have ever seen."
John Irving
"Red Moon is a serious, politically symbolic novel-a literary novel about lycanthropes. If George Orwell had imagined a future where the werewolf population had grown to the degree that they were colonized and drugged, this terrifying novel might be it."
The Barnes & Noble Review

Much like the careful reintroduction of wolves to the wild places of the American West, it seems that the landscape of American horror is at last being repopulated with a nearly extinct lupine strain. Oh, sure, we've had a tamer version of the species padding around for a while now, showing up with a carefully brushed coat to provide second-banana love interests in the Twilight series and HBO's Southern Gothic vamp soap True Blood. Quasi-domesticated packs can also be found roaming in the ever-expanding realm called "paranormal romance" or "urban fantasy." But, among all of that country's bloodsuckers, faerie folk, and various ruggedly appealing manimals, the modern werewolf has to fight for space in a crowded, resource-poor ecosystem.

Only distant kin to these nobly savage "shifters" is the old breed: the werewolf as monster within, avatar of the id, a beast of pure appetite. Stop to romanticize his plight and he'll have you for lunch. Long a staple of American cinematic scream machines, from The Wolf Man to An American Werewolf in London, he eventually lurched back into the woods — in shame, I suspect, after the humiliation of Michael J. Fox's Teen Wolf.

But there's hope yet for those craving that full-throated howl, in the hands of novelists in touch, presumably, with their own lupine natures. Glen Duncan's blackly witty work The Last Werewolf rendered the sympathetic soul of a sophisticated wolf-man who didn't apologize for his murderous appetites, and Brian McGreevey married a murder mystery with snarly horror in Hemlock Grove (adapted as a series for Netflix.) Now comes Benjamin Percy with Red Moon, an audaciously complex and often hauntingly composed thriller that puts the classic myth of the werewolf curse at the center of a story taking in contemporary anxieties about infectious disease, terrorism, American military adventures abroad, and the arrival of the paranoid security state.

To support such a project, Percy has erected a carefully architected back-story, of the sort that fantasy readers recognize as "worldbuilding." Even though the book is set in a recognizably twenty-first-century America, complete with smartphones and Starbucks, the shape of its alternate history is revealed, in piecemeal fashion, through the course of the novel. Magic is not the issue: in Red Moon, the phenomenon of humans becoming "lycans" has a biological root similar to that of mad cow disease. Those infected — whether by bite, sex, or inheritance from a parent — will under stress transform into something covered in "downy gray hair," hunchbacked, and equipped with nasty claws and a toothy snout "a skeleton's fist of a smile."

A lesser writer might have made this plague the product of some sinister government bio-weapon project, but Percy isn't interested in ersatz monsters; in his world, those carrying the Lobos infection have been side by side with us for centuries, manifesting as Native American "skinwalkers" and as a fragile "Lycan Republic" gouged out of the Russian-Finnish border after the defeat of Nazi Germany. A certain level of self-control can keep a lycan from transforming, while prejudice keeps lycans a suspected class: the civil rights movement of this world involved lycans, and in the era paralleling our own, mandated blood tests and medications are among the legal restrictions on the minority. And the U.S. military, in a mordant echo of recent history in Iraq and Afghanistan, are engaged in a long-term slog to bring "order" to the Lycan Republic.

Feared but tolerated, lycans largely hide their natures, though some take family outings to Canada to let the wolf run free, while resentment on both sides builds. And the first live lycan that we meet — the one sporting that bony grin — is putting in motion an act of all-too-familiar terror designed to jump-start chaos. The main intelligence behind such plotting is a lycan leader named Balor, whose scariest attribute is not his shapeshifting but his charismatic ruthlessness. Meanwhile, his opposite numbers in the were-hating community (racist skinheads tattooed with silver bullets, plus assorted governmental allies) play along with apparently equal relish for bloodletting. The radical lycans unleash further destruction, described with an unflinching, gore-drenched specificity, on their former neighbors, sowing fear and death via both car bombs and claws. The nation spirals into panic as anti- lycan sentiment boils over.

Although the story shifts to take in multiple points of view, heroes and villains alike, it largely unspools through the experiences of three people: Claire Forrester, a young lycan turned into a fugitive when shadowy forces appear at her suburban home; Patrick Gamble, a teen who has lost his mother to the infection, and his father to the war in the Republic; and Chase Williams, a maverick politician and former soldier, whose own infection with the virus becomes a secret that must be buried as he aims himself at the White House. Claire — whose family is, it turns out, deeply enmeshed in the Resistance that led to the current terror — is captured by lycans of psychotic cruelty and rescued by her intrepid aunt, Miriam, a woman of courage and pluck who herself becomes their target — and a fascinating character in her own right. Patrick, meanwhile, escapes death in the initial attack only to confront far deeper horrors as a soldier in the Republic. And as Chase rides the mounting wave of civil unrest to a political summit, he becomes the embodiment of brutal repression, even as he finds the call of the lycan within to be increasingly seductive. Through all of this, Balor is planning a truly irrevocable, global transformation, a variation on the fabled zombie apocalypse.

These strands of the ensuing page-turner are carefully braided, though sheer coincidence has to be used to splice some of the threads in the book's final act. But the book's ability to capture our jittery state of "see-something-say-something" in its fictional mirror makes Red Moon's few plot contrivances more than forgivable. And Percy — whose previous novel The Wilding proved his eye for both natural beauty and psychological chasms — ballasts his nightmare with a poet's more natural magic. In one scene, as Patrick faces an unknown threat in the dark, he "retrieves the baseball bat and strangles his hands around the grip and swings open the door and steps into the dark throat of the hallway." Fear, this book reminds us, is a beast that's always hungry.

Bill Tipper has been Managing Editor of the Barnes & Noble Review since its launch in 2007. His reviews have appeared in the Washington Post Book World and elsewhere.

Reviewer: Bill Tipper

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781455501663
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 5/7/2013
  • Pages: 533
  • Sales rank: 626,947
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Benjamin Percy

Benjamin Percy has won a Whiting Writers Award, a Plimpton Prize, two Pushcart Prizes, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is the author of the novel The Wilding and two short story collections,Refresh, Refresh and The Language of Elk (available as an ebook from Grand Central Publishing). He lives in Minnesota with his family. For more information, you can visit www.BenjaminPercy.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Red Moon

A Novel


By Benjamin Percy

Grand Central Publishing

Copyright © 2014 Benjamin Percy
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4555-0166-3


CHAPTER 1

He cannot sleep. All night, even with his eyes closed, Patrick Gamble can see the red numbers of the clock as they click forward: 2:00, 3:30, 4:10, now 4:30, but he is up before the alarm can blare. He snaps on the light and pulls on the blue jeans and black T-shirt folded in a pile, ready for him, ready for this moment, the one he has been dreading for the past two months. His suitcase yawns open on the floor. He tosses his toiletry kit into it after staggering down the hall to the bathroom and rubbing his armpits with a deodorant stick and brushing his teeth, foaming his mouth full of mint toothpaste.

He stands over the suitcase, waiting, as if hoping hard enough would make his hopes come true, waiting until his raised hopes fall, waiting until he senses his father in the bedroom doorway, turning to look at him when he says, "It's time."

He will not cry. His father has taught him that, not to cry, and if he has to, he has to hide it. He zips the suitcase shut and drags it upright and stares at himself in the closet mirror—his jaw stubbled with a few days' worth of whiskers, his eyes so purple with sleeplessness they look like flowers that have wilted in on themselves—before heading down the hall to the living room, where his father is waiting for him.

The truck idles in the driveway. The air smells like pine and exhaust. Sunlight has started to creep into the night sky, but only a faint glow, a false dawn. The suitcase chews its wheels through the gravel and Patrick struggles two-handed with its weight. When his father tries to help him, Patrick says, "Don't," and heaves it up into the bed of the truck.

"Sorry," his father says, and the word hangs in the air until Patrick slams shut the tailgate. They climb into the truck and on the bench seat Patrick finds a peanut butter toast sandwich wrapped in a paper towel, but his stomach feels like a bruised fist and he can't imagine choking down more than a bite.

They follow the long gravel drive with their headlights casting twisting shadows through the tunnel of trees. They are alone on a county road, and then surrounded by traffic on I-580, heading south, toward San Francisco. Half the sky full of stars, the rest of it blurred by soot-black clouds occasionally pulsing with gold-wire lightning.

His father says he hopes the weather clears, hopes his flight goes off without a hitch, and Patrick says, yes, he hopes so too.

"You've got Neal's number?"

"Yeah."

"In case things get weird with your mother?"

"Yeah."

"Not that I think they will, but in case they do, he's a three-hour drive away."

"I know."

The sky lightens to a plum color—and with the sun and the stars and the clouds at war in the sky, Patrick can't help but think that's how things are around here, divided, like the landscape, ocean and forest and desert and city, clouds and sun and fog, like so many worlds crushed into one.

It is another half hour before the sun crests the horizon and injures his eyes to look at. His father holds the steering wheel like it isn't going where he wants it to go unless he muscles it hard. The two of them say nothing because there is nothing to say. It has all been said. Patrick does not want to go, but that is irrelevant given the fact that he must. That goes for them both. They must.

The sky is clotted with clouds. Rain spits. Seagulls screech. The bay is walled off by fog. In the near distance the brown hills are only a hazy presence and the noise of traffic is only a vague growl as cars pour off the freeway and follow narrower roads that branch into parking ramps, rental lots, terminals. One of them, a black sedan with a silver grille, dips underground to the arrivals area at San Francisco International Airport, but it does not stop where the other cars stop, does not pull up to the curb and pop its trunk and click on its hazard lights. Instead it slides past the rest of the traffic, around the corner, to the bend in the road bordered by concrete walls, where it slows enough for the door to open and a man with a briefcase to step out and walk away without a parting word or backward glance.

He is smiling slightly when a minute later he walks beneath the sign that reads terminal. He appears to be a businessman on his way to close a deal. He has the black leather briefcase with the silver snaps. The Nunn Bush wing tips shined to an opal glow. The neatly pressed charcoal suit, starched white shirt, and red tie running down his chest. His hair is severely parted to one side and dusted with gray, the gel darkening it to the color of coal. He looks like hundreds of other men in the airport this morning. His face could be anyone's face.

But if you looked closer, you might note his pallid cheeks, his neck rashed and jeweled with scabs—where once there was a beard, razored away the night before. You might spot his white-knuckled grip on the briefcase. The redness vining the corners of his eyes after a sleepless night. And his clenched jaw, the muscles balled and jumping.

This is the busiest time of day, when the security guards, the flight attendants, his fellow travelers, notice the least, the airport a flurry of bodies, a carnival of noise. The motion detector above the entrance winks and the electronic double doors open and he enters baggage claim. Here is a gaggle of Japanese tourists wearing neon-green tracksuits. An obese man spilling out of his wheelchair. An exhausted-looking couple dragging behind them red-faced children and overstuffed backpacks. An old man in a gray Windbreaker and Velcro shoes, saying, "How did that get in here?" leaning his head back and squinting up at the metal rafters, where a crow roosts.

He cuts through them all, walking up an escalator, moving past the ticket counters to security. His eyes dart wildly about him even as his body remains tense and arrows forward. He brings his hand to his breast pocket, where his boarding pass, printed up the night before, peeks out like a neatly folded handkerchief; he fingers it, as if to reassure himself that it's actually there.

The security guard has a buzz cut and fleshy body and he barely glances up when he spotlights the man's license with a blue halogen flashlight and then initials the boarding pass before handing them back. "Okay," he says, and the man says, "Thank you."

The line is long but moves fast through the maze of black ropes. When he passes through the metal detector, he closes his eyes and holds his breath. Then the guard is waving him forward, telling him, "You're good." A moment later the X-ray machine shoots out his tray and from it he collects his shoes and briefcase and wallet and silver watch, whose face he glances at when buckling it to his wrist—his flight does not board for another forty minutes.

He has not eaten this morning, his stomach an acidic twist. But the smell of fast food, of sausage and eggs, is too much for him. His hunger rolls over inside him. He orders a breakfast sandwich and paces while he waits for it. When his number is called, when he collects the bag, he rips it open and can barely find his breath as he shoves the sandwich in his mouth and gnaws it down. Then he licks the grease off the wrapper before crumpling it up to toss in the garbage. He suckles his fingertips. He wipes his hand along his thigh, unconcerned as he smears his pants with grease, and then glances around, wondering if he has caught anyone's attention. And he has. An old woman—with a dried-apple face and dandelion-fluff hair—sits in a nearby wheelchair, watching him, her mouth open and revealing a yellowed ridgeline of teeth. "You're pretty hungry," she finally says.

He finds his gate and stands by the rain-freckled window. His reflection hangs there like a ghost, and through it he observes the plane parked at the gate. Beyond it, fuel trucks and luggage carts zoom through black puddles that splash and ripple their reflection of the world. Men wearing fluorescent orange-and-green vests over their raincoats throw luggage onto a conveyer that rises into the belly of a plane. Off in the distance, a Boeing 747 blasts down the runway like a giant bullet, steadily gaining speed, its nose lifting, the plane following, angling upward and abandoning the tarmac. And then it is gone, lost to the clouds.

He glances at his watch often. His tie is too tight. His suit is too hot. He wants to peel off his jacket but can feel his shirt sticking to his skin and knows the fabric will be spotted in places, nearly translucent along his lower back, where the sweat seems to pool. He uses his boarding pass to dab at his forehead. The ink bleeds.

The desk agent gets on the PA and lists off their flight number and destination, 373 to Portland, Oregon. Her voice is tinny and rehearsed. At this time, she says, first class is welcome to board along with premier and executive elite card carriers. He glances at his watch and checks his boarding pass for what must be the hundredth time that morning. They will depart in twenty minutes and he will board with Group 2. He wants to pace. He has to concentrate to stay footed in his place.

A few more minutes pass. He considers joining the mob of people standing next to the counter, waiting to board, but the thought of all those bodies, their heat and smell, keeps him alone by the window.

Passengers with young children and in need of extra assistance are now welcome to board. And then Group 1. And then, at last, Group 2. He hurries toward the gate but isn't sure at first where to go, who is boarding and who is waiting to board, among the confused mass of bodies and rolling suitcases. They aren't moving—they are a wall of meat—and he wants to shove them, throw something, but manages to contain himself, to steady his breathing and circle around the crowd and find the actual line of passengers shuffling toward the agent, who scans their tickets with an empty smile and a thank you, thank you, thank you.

He has not noticed up to this point the extra security detail that stands next to the jet bridge. A man and a woman, both of them big shouldered and big bellied, bulging out of their uniforms. They are studying the line. They are waiting for him, he feels certain. And soon, any second now, they will rush forward and throw him to the floor and cuff his wrists. He is only a few feet away when they pull out of line a woman in a floppy hat and floral-patterned muumuu, apologizing to her, saying they're randomly screening passengers. "For your safety," they say.

He turns his smile on the agent when she takes his ticket. "Thank you," she says, and he says, "Thank you." He follows the crooked line of passengers, all of them shouldering the weight of laptops and leaning to one side, as they trudge down the throat of the jet bridge. A cold, damp wind breathes through the cracks of it. He is sweat soaked and he shudders from the chill.

"Nervous flier?" A man's voice, behind him. He is short and square, with a goatee and a matching ball cap and Windbreaker bearing the black-and-orange OSU logo.

"Little bit."

The jet bridge elbows to the left, into the open door of the plane. One of the flight attendants stands in the kitchen carrel beyond the doorway. She smiles at him, her mouth heavily lipsticked. "Welcome aboard," she says, and then he is past her, into the hush of the first-class cabin, stutter-stepping down the aisle with everyone else. Those already seated turn the pages of their newspapers in rustling snaps. The storage compartments are all open, like unhinged mouths gaping at them, waiting to swallow the diaper bags and suitcases that people hoist upward before edging into their seats.

He will not need his briefcase. There is nothing in it except some pens and a day-old newspaper. So he stores it and slips into his seat, 13A. He barely has enough time to raise the window shade and glance outside before the seat next to him shakes with the weight of the body collapsing into it. "Me again," says the man with the goatee.

He responds by snapping his buckle into place and yanking on the strap to tighten it. He looks out the window—at the puddled asphalt, at the men heaving the last of the luggage onto the conveyor—hoping the man with the goatee won't say anything more.

But he does. "Where you headed?"

"Portland."

"Oh, sure. Same as the rest of us. I just wasn't sure if that's the end of the road or not."

"The end of the road." It is hard for him to make words, to engage in any sort of conversation, because it feels irrelevant and distracting, yes, but also because his mind feels elsewhere, twenty minutes ahead of the plane, already in the sky. "Yes."

"The Rose City." He stretches out the word rose. "From there?"

"No."

"Me either. I'm from Salem." He whistles a song that fades a moment later. He fingers through the airline magazine and SkyMall catalogue in the seat-back pocket. "I'm Troy, by the way."

Passengers continue to wobble down the aisle, while outside jets rise into and fall from the gray ceiling of the sky, vanishing one minute, appearing the next, like seaside birds hunting for food, their tails colored red and purple and blue, their brakes squawking along the runway.

The front door is latched shut. The air pressure tightens. His ears pop. The attendant gets on the intercom and welcomes them and fires off some information about the flight before settling into her singsong speech about seat belts and passenger safety. The man tunes out the cheery buzz of her voice. The air vents hiss. The engine grumbles. The plane retreats from the gate and then rolls forward, following a network of forty-five-degree turns until they have found their place on the tarmac and the pilot's voice barks from the loudspeakers, "Flight attendants, prepare for takeoff."

The raindrops on the window stream sideways into thin, shivering trails when the plane leaps forward, gaining speed. They roar along and eventually pull away from the ground, and at that first moment of flight, the man, despite the heaviness that presses him into his seat, feels ebullient, weightless. He looks down at the foggy expanse of the city. Right now, in their cars, along sidewalks, people are lifting their faces to watch his plane, he thinks. Probably they are wondering where the plane is heading, who is on board, what adventures lie in store for them—and it makes him feel dizzyingly powerful to know the answer.

Troy leans toward him until their shoulders touch. "Don't worry so much. Flying's a piece of cake. I do it all the time."

The man realizes that his mouth is open, that he is breathing rapidly. He snaps his teeth together with a clack. He blinks at a shutter speed. "I'm fine."

"Here's the thing," Troy says. "Almost all plane crashes happen—I read this for a fact ... or maybe I saw it on the TV—but almost all crashes happen when the plane is taking off and when the plane is landing. Now, we're taking off, I suppose you could say, until we've reached our cruising altitude. When that happens, the lady stewardess will say so, will say you can use your computer. And there will be a bong." He makes his hand open up like a flower when he says bong. "Then you know you're good. Statistically, I mean."

For the next few minutes the man stares at the clouds curling around the plane. And then a soft-toned bell sounds from above.

"There it is!" Troy says. "We're in the clear."

The flight attendant gets on the intercom again, telling them that it's now safe to use approved portable electronic devices. They will, however, be experiencing turbulence for the next half hour or so and she asks that everyone please keep their seat belts fastened and move about the cabin only if they must.

The plane is shaking. Or maybe he is shaking. He feels a lurching sensation, as if he is being thrown out of his body. His heart hammers. His breath comes in and out in quick gasps. Troy is saying something—his mouth is moving—but the man can't hear him.

His seat belt unclicks with the noise of a switchblade.
(Continues...)


Excerpted from Red Moon by Benjamin Percy. Copyright © 2014 Benjamin Percy. Excerpted by permission of Grand Central Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Interviews & Essays

A Conversation with Benjamin Percy, Author of Red Moon

Where did you find inspiration for Red Moon?

I'm targeting cultural unease. Right now, more than anything, we fear disease and we fear terrorism, and I've braided the two together in this post-9/11 reinvention of the werewolf myth. In my alternate history, a wasting disease leaps out of the wolf population in prehistoric times, mutating in its human host, and when you fast-forward to today roughly ten percent of the people are infected. They cannot hold certain jobs—they lose out on certain rights—they are part of public registries and must take emotionally deadening drugs. Of course they resist. And when, following terrorist activity, the government cracks down with stricter policies and brutal enforcement, everything begins to spiral out of control. I wanted this to be scary, hairy, and zeitgeisty.

What exactly does the term "genre-bending" mean to you and do you consider yourself part of this category, why?

You can eat a sirloin at a Sizzler in Butte, Montana, that tastes like shoe leather and you can eat a hamburger at the Mustard's Grill in Napa that gives your mouth an orgasm. People shouldn't sweat the labels, only the quality. But even though we're not talking about meat—we're talking about books—the same theory applies. People love to categorize, to build walls, to say this book belongs in this section of the store. I'd love to dissolve all those boundaries and worry instead whether a story is well or poorly written. You could say Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove is a western, but so is it the highest caliber of literature. Cormac McCarthy's The Road is a post apocalyptic thriller...that won the Pulitzer. Margaret Atwood writes sentences so beautiful I want to tattoo my body with them—but she could just as easily be labeled sci-fi. I guess I'm neither fish nor fowl, both literary and genre; if people want to find me, I'll be hiding in that gray nowhere.

In Red Moon, you use the term "lycan" exclusively rather than "werewolf," can you explain what the reasoning behind this was?

In The Walking Dead, you'll never hear the characters use the term zombie (they're walkers). In The Passage, Justin Cronin never uses the word vampire (they're virals). If you're reinventing the myth, you don't want baggage. My lycans—derived from lycanthropes—are not the standard full moon howlers. They are infected with an animal-borne pathogen called lobos, the equivalent of Mad Cow or Chronic Wasting Disease that targets their brain and adrenal glands, the equivalent of an unchained id. There is a slippery science here that hopefully makes this a believable nightmare.

What kind of socio-political takeaway(s) are you hoping your readers will gain from reading Red Moon?

I'm holding up a cracked mirror and I hope people see a distorted reflection of themselves and a post-9/11 America. Some might think they recognize certain politicians or global conflicts or diseases or cultural prejudices, but the lines are blurry. And the book is ultimately about marginalization, xenophobia, the other.

The story takes place over several years and follows many different characters. Can you talk about the technique and intentions of designing such an ambitious narrative?

I've always loved the epic reading experience. The Song of Fire and Ice series by George R.R. Martin. The Stand by Stephen King. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The Once and Future King by T.H. White. I wanted to build a world and immerse a reader in a fantasia they couldn't escape. I couldn't keep it all in my head so I ripped a ten-foot sheet of paper from my son's Melissa & Doug art easel and hung it from the wall and sketched out (in pencil of course) all the different character arcs. I also scribbled over the top of this a kind of cardiogram or seismograph as I figured out all the peaks and valleys of suspense and tried to orchestrate them coming together harmoniously.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 23 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(12)

4 Star

(5)

3 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 11, 2013

    Reading the blurb, I couldn¿t wait to get a copy of this book. I

    Reading the blurb, I couldn’t wait to get a copy of this book. I wanted to know who “they” are. I was guessing “they” might be aliens or some underground species of monsters or something really exciting and unimaginable. My imagination was going wild wondering what “they” could be. Imagine my disappointment when I started reading Red Moon and discovered that “they” aren’t that interesting at all. They’re only lycans. And no, I don’t read werewolf-themed books, but since I requested it for review through NetGalley, I had no other choice but to give this 500-page plus novel a go and see if maybe I’ll enjoy it. So I’m subtracting one star because the blurb was misleading and another star because I didn’t enjoy the story as much.

    The good things first. Benjamin Percy is a phenomenal writer. Even if the story sucked completely (which it didn’t) I would’ve given it a high star rating because of his eloquent prose, vivid descriptions and exceptional action sequences and fight scenes. Seriously, this author can write up a storm, but there were times I couldn’t refrain from eye-rolling at some of the analogies he used. Although I avoid books with werewolves (lycans) and other paranormal creatures such as vampires, shifters, witches, etc, I have to applaud the author for cleverly underlining issues such as racism, prejudice, xenophobia and terrorism by creating a novel where humans and lycans are at odds with each other.

    What irked me about the story is that the author builds up the suspense and reader’s expectations to the point where you feel you just can’t take anymore, and then he goes and wraps up the final scenes in a few sentences, which left me feeling deflated and let down. The descriptions were vivid, which contributed a lot to the world building and made it easier for me to immerse myself in the story, but many times it got too lengthy and ended up being page filler. It was clear the author did a lot of research for this book, but the scientific terminology and complex explanations went right over my head, so eventually I started skimming through those.

    Overall, Red Moon was an okay read and I think fans of books with paranormal elements will enjoy this novel without complaint. It just wasn’t for me. I’ll definitely read more books by this author if he writes anything in my preferred genres (or anything which doesn’t contain overused paranormal themes/characters) as he undoubtedly is a very talented writer.

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2013

    Recommended

    This must be the first of a long series of Red Moon stories, since it has no real end. The characters are unsettled and the future is seriously in peril.

    I like a story that ends. Series are popular with authors, I believe, because they use the same thread for future stories, characters and plot lines being already developed.

    One never really understood the impact of the virus on the mind, since some went nuts while being changed, and others could function somewhat.

    I feel that this may be best suited for early teens. The lapses in the plot would not be noticeable. By that I mean: "What? How did that happen? Or how did we get to this stage?

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 23, 2013

    Politically inclined thriller that addresses not only the obviou

    Politically inclined thriller that addresses not only the obvious segregation of lycans and humans, but also the underlying social aspects of such segregation. We are guided through the lives of two individuals who, although opposite in nature, share a similar path.  Patrick, a young man living with his mother in an unfamiliar town, must deal with his forced celebrity status that came about by an act of terrorism. Claire, a lycan by birth, feels direct repercussions of the attack as well.  Being forced to leave her home, she wanders through Northern Minnesota with nothing but the envelope her father gave her.




    Percy does a good job of incorporating each character into the plot.  Upon first reading, the story seemed fluffy and drawn out, but the author's tenacity becomes apparent shortly after chapter 8, when this supposed fluff takes on real value, and society's opinion falls into a new light.  The characters come to life in a way unseen by the multiple other fantastical thrillers out there.  Percy has found the balancing point between brazen topics and taciturn opposition, creating his own genre of sci-fi thriller.




    Definitely a book worth reading, if you can withstand the immediate staccato of garrulous description.  

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 22, 2013

    Great premise, dissapointing results

    I was riveted and could not put this down for the first 50 pages or so. But by about half way through the book, things started having a sketchy, half-finished feel. For example: the main characters would meet people, begin important relationships, and then poof - these 'extras' would die. Also, there is an excessive amount of gore and horrific abuse, most of which doesn't really serve the storyline much, and several plot twists that defy reason even in this alternate reality. Percy leaves many, many threads untied at the end, and I assume this will lead inevitably to a sequel, which I will not be buying. This book was greatly dissapointing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2013

    Moon clan here

    Type bios in

    1 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 14, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite Red Moon is a del

    Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite

    Red Moon is a deliciously frightening horror book written and read by author Benjamin Percy. In this horror fantasy, Lycans/werewolves and humans live together…but for how long? The Lycans are infected with a highly contagious plague, causing them to lose all control and become violent. Patrick Gamble is flying home to be with his mother when a Lycan on his plane goes crazy and kills all on board except Patrick. A small violent faction called the Lycan Liberation Army proudly proclaims responsibility for the attack, appalling the nation. Government agents attack Lycan Claire Forrester’s home, killing her parents, and forcing her to flee. Oregon Governor Chase Williams throws his hat in the ring for the Presidential election. His platform? Anti-Lycan attitudes.

    Red Moon proves the great talent of Benjamin Percy. For most authors it is very difficult to write smooth transitions when the action is repeatedly moving from the past, to the present, to the future. However, the author makes it appear effortless. His transitions are as smooth as glass. Red Moon has a character-driven plot. Both the good guys and bad have flaws and redeeming qualities. Red Moon has a social and political message concerning civil rights and discrimination. I came to care deeply about the welfare of the characters. The reader does need to be prepared for the violence and bloody gore. Benjamin Percy gave it all to Red Moon: romance, horror, thriller, paranormal, and political statement. This review concerns the audio format. Move over vampires, werewolves are back in style.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2013

    To slave 4

    *kisses slave on the cheek* We're gonna have some nice, appropriate fun, unlike some people here.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2013

    Slave

    Buy me. I want to be ra.p.e.d. i cry out

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2013

    Ryan

    *kisses slave* Be mine forever.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 28, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This was a good book, but slow in spots... it didn't really have

    This was a good book, but slow in spots... it didn't really have an ending so I figure there will be at least one more... I would most likely read the next one just to figure out what happened to the characters.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2013

    Is depudy taken?

    Is it.

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2013

    Moonflower

    Gunner I want you to be my mate. Well find a en later. I like swimming best too

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2013

    Flamewing

    Name flamewing...
    age 19...
    Description a handesone flaming tom with green eyes and a white star in the middle of his chest...
    Gender tom....
    History its so sad...
    Personailty sweet lovable stubborn a bit kind.....
    Clan is wingclan at ragon first result

    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2013

    To growlfur

    You are hateful

    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews

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