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Red Moon Rising

Review

Red Moon Rising

On a nameless moon, a generation after having crash-landed there, a community of human settlers have had a hard living. Rae Darling and her family worry not only about the scarce food, medicine and harsh climate, but also the native inhabitants who, with their flying beasts, attack the settlers, slicing off their ears and kidnapping children. When Rae and her sister Temple are taken in a raid, their lives are changed and their worldview is altered forever. K.A. Holt’s latest middle grade novel, RED MOON RISING, is the story of Rae’s adventure with the culture known as the Cheese.

A clash of cultures, strange creatures, space ships, myths, and empowerment; RED MOON RISING is a fascinating coming of age tale in a compelling setting....Part sci-fi, part western, Holt's book mixes genres with ease all the while giving readers a great character in Rae.

Rae’s father is the sheriff of the township but he has been secretly meeting with one of the leaders of the Cheese named Fist. Rae misunderstands her father’s relationship with Fist and makes a rash decision which results in her and Temple being taken up by Fist and the other Cheese on their dactyls, leaving the lives they’d known far behind. Although they are prepared for the worst, the reality that Rae and Temple find among the Cheese defies their expectations in many positive ways. While the Kihuut --- the actual name of the Cheese people --- are not averse to violence, their society is far more egalitarian than that of the settlers. As girls, Rae and Temple were taught to be modest and gentle, but with the Kihuut, they are encouraged to be powerful contributors in the community. They also learn the other side of the story --- that the settlers caused devastation among the Kihuut and have not been innocent victims afterall. The longer Rae and Temple stay with the Kihuut the freer they feel. Yet Rae’s freedom may come with extra responsibilities, as her new Kihuut family is training her to be a leader and their expectations of her are high.

Rae is torn between her feelings for the Kihuut and her loyalty to her father and the aunt who helped raise her. She wrestles with her identity and the future she envisions for herself and for all those living together on the dusty moon.

A clash of cultures, strange creatures, space ships, myths, and empowerment; RED MOON RISING is a fascinating coming of age tale in a compelling setting. Despite its fantastical setting, RED MOON RISING is realistically complex. Part sci-fi, part western, Holt's book mixes genres with ease all the while giving readers a great character in Rae. Thoughtful, tough, clever and capable, Rae is a totally readable heroine who will appeal to diverse readers. The action in the novel is well-paced and the scenes of violence and hardship only serve to highlight the struggles of the Kihuut and the settlers and make Rae’s decisions more critical. Holt falters some, however, when resorting to stereotypical ideas about “native” communities while trying to explore the ill effects of colonialism.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on March 1, 2016

Red Moon Rising
by K. A. Holt