Summary: Mid-winter twins Lugh and Saba live with their sister Emmi and their father on a lonely homestead plagued with drought. While the twins’ bond is fierce, their father is awash in grief and their sister fends for herself. Everything changes one day when the Tonton appear, kidnapping Lugh and killing their father. Left alone with Emmi, Saba sets out immediately to rescue Lugh, determined to leave her sister with a family friend along the way. But nothing seems to go as planned, and Saba’s journey to get Lugh back takes her from cage fighting in Hopetown, to battling deadly worms, to dethroning a king. Saba’s single-minded determination serves her well, although her prickly nature makes it difficult for her to accept the help she needs in achieving her goal.
Number of Pages: 459
Age Range: 13-15
Review: It’s a little difficult to separate what I know from reading author Moira Young’s sequel, Rebel Heart, with what I know from Blood Red Road, but when I read Young’s book the first time, I remember being struck by Saba’s powerful love for her brother. Their connection to each other goes back to a shared womb, and when their younger sister Emmi’s birth causes their mother’s death, Lugh is the only one she can rely on. They are each other’s other half, flip sides of the same coin.
So when Lugh is taken away from Saba, her only concern is to get him back. Her stubbornness and arrogance is alienating to say the least, and yet people are still drawn to help Saba even though she never willingly asks for it because her intentions are pure. Behind everything is an unyielding determination to survive, with the knowledge that surviving would never be complete if Saba isn’t able to be with Lugh.
Except along the way, something happens. Saba’s resistance to relying on anyone except Lugh is continually challenged as she must get assistance to rescue him. Also, at age of eighteen, finally out in the larger world, Saba falls in love for the first time. And while she won’t admit it, it is clear from her heartstone that Jack is her heart’s desire. The only problem is Saba seems more likely to kill him than to kiss him.
Saba’s tale is an epic adventure story set in a post-apocalyptic world. Her personality is completely captured in Young’s stylistic writing choices which makes for a more challenging read but completely worth it. I love Young’s theme of having strong female warriors able to fend for themselves, and the plethora of lovable and interesting characters Young brings into Saba’s life.
It was my third time reading Blood Red Road, and I was able to truly appreciate how completely Young has set up her sequel. Saba is in a completely different place at the end of the novel, and this will go on to affect her future relationship with Lugh as it already affects her relationship with Emmi. I have plans to read the triology’s final instalment, Raging Star, in the new year, because I am on pins and needles wondering how it is all going to turn out.
“Lugh thinks fer a moment. Then he says, Love makes you weak. Carin fer somebody that much means you cain’t think straight. Look at Pa. Who’d wanna end up like him? I ain’t never gonna love nobody. It’s better that way.” – Lugh from Blood Red Road by Moira Young, page 17
“I always blamed Emmi fer the fact that Ma’s dead. I never made no secret of it. Now, hearing what mercy says, I start to think about the fact that nobody asks to be born into this world. An nobody can stop theirselves bein born. Not even Emmi.” – Saba from Blood Red Road by Moira Young, page 68
“But then the red hot kicks in an at last I unnerstand what it is. It’s like animals. A animal will do anythin to live. Even chew off its own leg if it’s caught in a trap. That’s the red hot. An I’m gonna hafta learn to use it if I wanna survive in the Cage.” – Saba from Blood Red Road by Moira Young, page 146
“I stare into his eyes. Searchin fer . . . somethin. Then. I see it.
I see him. Suddenly I see him. Not the Jack of the jokes an the flirtin and the shyin away. The real Jack. The . . . truth of him. The stillness at the heart of him. Like calm water.
I saw it once before, that first night we lay unner the stars. When I told him about Lugh an he promised me we’d find him. An this is the thing. The truth about Jack’s bin right in front of me all along. I just wouldn’t let myself believe what I saw. Till now.
I laugh. Gawd help me, I says, but I do. I trust you, Jack.” – Saba from Blood Red Road by Moira Young, page 382