Red Queen by Honey Brown

red queenLove, lust and rivalry…

😀 😀 😀 🙂

The time feels much like the present, but society has been destroyed by a lethal virus. The narrator, Shannon, is a young man living in isolation with his older brother, Rohan, in a well-stocked house prepared by their now-dead father for just such a contingency, since he always feared that one day disaster would strike humanity. It’s been months since they saw another person, but one day a young woman, Denny, appears at the farm and throws herself on their mercy. Suspicious at first, both men soon find themselves attracted to her, but it still seems as if Denny may be hiding a secret…

Shannon and Rohan have little in common except their fraternal love for each other. Shannon is trusting and sensitive while, on the exterior at least, Rohan is tougher and meaner. Denny is nicely ambiguous – while Shannon falls quickly in love with her, the reader is left never quite sure of her honesty and motivations. The story moves at a fair pace and leads up to an exciting and well-executed thriller ending.

I was a little disappointed that Brown raised a couple of interesting questions and then rather failed to follow them through. Early on, there’s some discussion as to where the virus originated, with the suggestion that it may have been some kind of biological warfare. This strand is then totally dropped – just never mentioned again as if the author had forgotten about it. She does exactly the same with religion – Shannon is an atheist, while Rohan is apparently a strict Christian. This is made much of at the beginning as if Brown may be going to develop how their approach to the disaster affects or is affected by their beliefs…but very soon it’s just allowed to fizzle out into nothingness.

The ambiguous Denny is very well-drawn, and her character really holds the book together. Her actions stretch credulity at points, but not beyond breaking point. The men are more problematic. The first-person narrative via Shannon read to me throughout as if it was a woman speaking (not helped by the fact that I think of Shannon as a female name), and I kept having to remind myself that he was a man. Rohan is a bully and a tyrant, but apparently beloved by all? Hard to convince me of that, I fear, and Brown didn’t.

Honey Brown
Honey Brown

The plot revolves around lust and sex, so there are a lot of fairly graphic sex scenes – occasionally edging towards rape scenes. Too much for my taste, to be honest. The men are universally portrayed as slavering sexual predators whose moral and ethical standards are dropped at the first sight of a female. But then Denny is no slouch in the sexual predator stakes herself. The sexual manipulation that goes on amongst all the ‘goodies’ rather dulls the impact of the behaviour of the ‘baddies’, I feel. The suggestion seems to be that some forms of sexual predation are worse than others – true, but that doesn’t make me feel like saying the less bad kinds are OK then.

In the end, the book has less depth than the early chapters promised, but overall it’s a well-written and readable tale of love, lust and rivalry in an isolated post-apocalyptic setting.



56 thoughts on “Red Queen by Honey Brown

  1. OK, now I am thoroughly jealous! I’ve wanted to read her work for yonks, but can’t get my hands on any of it where I live *pout*! Very glad you enjoyed this though, and I will keep trying and looking.


  2. Sounds quite interesting. Funnily enough, as I started reading your review I thought “Hmm… Shannon’s a funny name for a chap”, then I thought – I won’t write that in the comments, it will make me look terribly ignorant. And then you said something similar! Phew! The bit about the author dropping/forgetting certain ideas etc – I do that all the time in my own writing, and kick myself for it. I think it’s a real schoolgirl error for writers, but I let myself off as I’m just having a bit of fun with a blog. I don’t think you can get away with it in a ‘real’ book. I’m surprised an editor or someone didn’t pick up on it.


    • I’ve never heard Shannon being used as a guy’s name, but I’ve asked Carol from Aus to clarify – the power of the world wide web!

      Yes, I felt the editor should have picked it up too – if the early references hadn’t been there, then the book would have read fine as a straight thriller, but because they were there I spent the whole time waiting for something deeper and then it didn’t happen. And I got the feeling she’d have had the skill to explore them quite well…


      • It’s easily done, I totally understand that, but it seems such a silly thing to over – look in a professional setting. Either tone down the references or develop them. Maybe you should be an editor – you have such an eagle eye for detail!


        • Haha! The thought has occurred to me, but then I think of the poor authors huddled weeping in the corner as I tear their precious child to pieces…

          Carol confirms Shannon is a unisex name in Australia – I wonder how much that affected my feelings about the character…

          Liked by 1 person

    • To be honest, I think the fact that I don’t really enjoy lots of descriptions of sex (particularly when it’s almost rape scenes) coloured my view of this, as much as anything else. And that’s really just a matter of personal preference. Had it not been for that it’d have got a solid four – it’s very readable, even if it’s not got a huge amount of depth.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ha, not only do I usually think of Shannon as a girl’s name, but Denny definitely sounds like a guy to me. I would probably spend the entire book being confused. It seems like there are a LOT of names out there that are standard male/female, so I’m not sure why I’m noticing more and more this trend towards “gender neutral” (aka gender I have no idea which one you are because I keep forgetting because your name and your actions/voice are wrong for the gender you’re supposed to be) names, which annoys me a bit.


    • Yes, Denny sounds like a man’s name to me too! I’m intrigued now as to how much the ‘female voice’ I heard was influenced by the name – would I have felt the same way if Shannon had been called Bill? Though Bill is probably a girl’s name somewhere now too – it’s all very confusing! Just shows that even things we might not think are cultural differences can creep in when we’re not looking…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It sounds interesting, but I can do without the torrid sex. I’m not a prude, but book sex is much better served in a more subtle manner. I’m more interested in what you think of Dune. I read that light years ago.


    • Couldn’t agree more! Less is more. Dune is going well – I read it decades ago and loved it, and it’s holding up well against my memories of it. I’ve been going really slow because I was foolishly reading three massive books at the same time, but the other two are finished now, so I should be able to get into Dune properly… review in a week or two, I hope! Did you like it?


  5. Thanks for the word about this book with the intriguing premise. It sounds like the sci-fi/medical thriller piece of the story gets a much lighter treatment than the love triangle, though, so probably not my taste in spite of appearances. Good to know!


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