Percy, Benjamin. Red Moon
Benjamin Percy’s extraordinary new thriller is a blend of alternate history and supernatural fiction that holds a mirror up to contemporary America to reflect its fears and biases. The antagonists here are not jihadists, though, but lycans: humans infected with a prion-based illness which has turned them into a creature something like a werewolf. These lycans have lived among regular humans since prehistoric times, and in 21st-century America are now a stigmatized subclass, forced to suppress their true nature pharmacologically.
In alternating chapters, Percy introduces the characters who are the major players in his novel’s story: 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 conservative governor of Oregon 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.
Percy lends his novel credibility by working out a convincing pathology for the lobos prion, and by situating the lycan struggle at the center of historical moments that echo 20th-century eugenics experiments, the civil rights movement, the 1960s Days of Rage, and the current “war on terror.” By tapping into the contemporary sociopolitical climate, he has redefined the werewolf novel in a way which will appeal not only to fans of traditional horror, but fans of intelligent espionage thrillers.