Monday, October 11, 2021

Recently Read: The Future Is Red

I've finished reading Ian Cook's latest work The Future Is Red. I actually reviewed it on Amazon yesterday, so it's something of a relief to be reviewing it on here. I'm always scared of giving the plot away with proper book reviews. Plus I'm always mindful that the things I value in a book might not necessarily be what other people value. So it's a little easier being back here. I have a lot more leeway ..though I'll still try not to spoil things for anyone.

It was a cracking read. I really enjoyed it. That was helped partly by the fact that it ticked a lot of boxes for me. Aside from my obvious interest in red hair it also features Mars, Antarctica, witches and megaliths; along with Celtic/British history and myth. So a lot of themes I have a natural interest in already. I have an especial interest in Antarctica, so having that linked with red hair was particularly appealing.

The book also features a discovered skeleton of a red-haired giant - which again is another favoured topic. Like many things in the book this is something that's fantastical, but at the same time rooted in the real world somewhat, what with the many accounts of giants, some red-haired, in historical accounts and newspaper clippings, etc. So the book lives on that liminal boundary between the real and the supernatural. Which is something I always really like. This was another huge plus actually, as you get a tour through many real world sites as the story progresses. Some I was already familiar with, such as the Great Serpent Mound in Ohio, and the famous island of Iona, and others that were more of an education to me, such as the Rollright Stones and Dunsinane Hill.

As for the story itself, and again without wanting to give too much away, it's very much an unfolding mystery, with a treasure hunt type feel. When I started penning my Amazon review my first thought when it came to a description was that it's like a cross between an episode of the X-Files and an episode of Midsomer Murders. I didn't put that. Partly owing to the fact that most people outside the UK probably wouldn't know what Midsomer Murders was, but also because it's obviously a little bit of a silly way to describe a book. However, it's still what springs to mind to me. It has the esoteric mystery (plus some of the fear and horror) of an X-Files episode, but it also has the gentle humour and picturesque nature of a mystery set in the British countryside. The characters have a real warmth and likeability, even those on the bad side of the good/evil divide. In fact, I really liked the ending in regard the major villain, it has a nice charm to it.

Finally, as ever when reviewing books I can never quite resist thieving bits. This particular passage I wanted to make note of. It comes when the character Charles is discussing flood myths. He says:
"For example, in Greek mythology, there's the story of Pyrrha of Thessaly. Pyrrhus means 'red' in Latin, and Horace and Ovid describe Pyrrha as a redhead. Anyway, the myth is that Pyrrha and her husband were the only survivors of a great deluge. Her husband was told by an oracle that they should both throw rocks over their shoulders. They do, and the rocks become human beings."
We've came across the name Pyrrha before - oddly Achilles, in his youth, was said to have been disguised as a girl called Pyrrha, supposedly the name a reference to his red hair. However, I wasn't aware of this red-haired Pyrrha, so it's another arrow to add to the quiver. According to Wikipedia it's said to be related to the Greek word purrhos, meaning flame-coloured. We also have the word pyro, meaning fire, which also stems from Greek and is no doubt related.

Falling meteorites, which also feature heavily in the story, could be said to be quite pyrotechnical. So it fits quite neatly :)

Sunday, October 3, 2021

October updates..

A shorty post today. Just giving a few updates.

Firstly, I'm currently reading The Future Is Red. This is Ian Cook's latest work of fiction. Some of the readers of this blog will no doubt be familiar with his first book Redhead.

I'm really enjoying it so far, and I'll review it properly once I'm finished.

Secondly, I received a really nice email pointing out the following image. It shows St Margaret of Antioch, also known as Margaret the Virgin, with reddish hair.

I really like these medieval images. When I was reading up on St Margaret I also came across the following image. It's the coat of arms of Vehmaa - a municipality of Finland. I don't think this one can be claimed as a redhead per se, as pretty much everything is red, bar the dragon. Plus, it's obviously modern.

Still quite cool though.