It's 1832 and Coll Coyle has killed the wrong man. The dead man's father is an expert tracker and ruthless killer with a single-minded focus on vengeance. The hunt leads from the windswept bogs of County Donegal, across the Atlantic to the choleric work camps of the Pennsylvania railroad, where both men will find their fates in the hardship and rough country of the fledgling United States.
Language and landscape combine powerfully in this tense exploration of life and death, parts of which are based on historical events. With lyrical prose balancing the stark realities of the hunter and the hunted, RED SKY IN MORNING is a visceral and meditative novel that marks the debut of a stunning new talent.
Night sky was black and then there was blood, morning crack of light on the edge of the earth. The crimson spill sent the bright stars to fade, hills stepping out of shadow and clouds finding flesh. First rain of day from a soundless sky and music it made of the land. The trees let slip the mantle of darkness, stretched themselves, fingers of leaves shivering in the breeze, red then goldening rays of light catching. The rain stopped and he heard the birds wake. They blinked and shook their heads and scattered song upon the sky. The land, old and tremulous, turned slowly towards the rising sun.I got nervous with this first paragraph, with its rather ostentatious narration that had me second-guessing my decision to review this book. However I am happy to say that, while this story remained highly narrative, it settled down with all the pomp and circumstance.
Coll kills a man and goes on the run, leaving behind his pregnant wife and family. This story primarily follows his escape and time on the lam.
Occasionally I got confused over who the narrator was, as it kept changing perspectives. It would just say “she”, and I’d have to try and figure out who “she” was.
There are some other characters beside Coll, but he is the main one. His wife Sarah is barely mentioned, but I did like the way she was described as having "a face built for sadness".
The writing was so stilted that it read like one of those movie scenes of chaotic imagery, flashing from one scene to another with very little dialogue.
This book reminded me of “The Wake of Forgiveness” by Bruce Machart, I recognize that this novel is well-crafted, but I found myself a bit bored at times. As stated earlier, it is primarily a narrative novel, and I enjoy dialogue.
My final word: There is a fair bit of vulgarity, but it stays true to the Irish culture and characters. I didn't really like Coll. There were few times that I really viewed him as a vulnerable and likable man...
“...til he could shake no more and he lay there sodden in the moist arms of grief…”...but most of the time he was just a selfish coward. Overall I liked this story, but it was a little slow for me.
My Rating: B
I received a copy of this book to review through Netgalley and the publisher, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. The book that I received was an uncorrected proof, and quotes could differ from the final release.