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Rebel Heart by Moira Young - review

Rebel Rebel Heart
ISBN 978 -1- 407124-36-0
• Sam Hawksmoor review

This is the sequel to Blood Red Road and it was always going to be a hard act to follow.  Saba, the tough cage fighter, the Angel of Death, born at the midwintermoon has killed so many other girls in her journey to find her brother Lugh; it was bound to catch up with her.  You can’t kill so many and not be haunted by them

In Moria Young’s dystopian wasteland a new power is taken hold – a new order is displacing the old, sick and infirm and giving their ‘good land’ to willing young ambitious people to carve out a New Eden where only the fit will survive. All will have to pledge their allegiance to the Pathfinder, De Malo, the man who let Saba live when he could have so easily let her die.  He is ruthless and has put a price on her head.  Everywhere Saba goes she is feared and so easily could be betrayed.

Only Saba is not the girl she used to be. She is haunted by the dead and one blue-eyed wolfhound.  Her brother Lugh and sister Emmi think she is going crazy and Saba is beginning to think that too. (Even though the dog Tracker turns out to be real).

They arrive a small settlement ruled by a Shaman’s daughter Ariel. Lugh doesn’t like star readers – he has bad memories of his Pa driven mad by the stars.  Ariel offers to clear Saba’s head of ghosts but Lugh just wants to press on the Big Water in the west where he can settle and start a new life.  Saba submits to the cleansing.  All she wants is Jack, the man she saved and loves, who gave her his heartstone, but where is he?
Hawk leader Maeve suddenly arrives with news of Jack, who led a Tonton expedition against her pack and killed them all.  Saba is devastated, her Jack betrayed everyone?  How is that possible?  He let Maeve live to send a message to her – that he’s a lost cause and something about the moon.  Saba can’t believe it.  She’d put all her hopes in her future in Jack. Lugh is now sure her love for Jack was misplaced. He wants them to head West immediately.

As Saba clears her head she realises that Maeve has got the message wrong. Jack must have asked her to meet him at The Lost Cause at the next full moon, a rough bar in the middle of the Wastelands.  She has no idea where it is but she resolves to go.

She ties up the dog, Tracker and escapes the camp on her horse Hermes, sets off for New Eden alone except for her crow.  Tracker breaks free and follows. He has bonded with Saba.

Lugh, Emmi and Maeve aren’t about to let her go alone either and they set off to find her.

Yes, it’s complicated.  It’s a quest to find Jack.  It won’t be easy – headhunters lie in the path ahead.  Many will die.  Saba is not as strong as she used to be or clear headed, she finds it impossible to kill anymore, even to save her own life.  But trust is a precious commodity in this new world and nothing is as black and white as it seems. Even the Tonton are changing - suddenly they have discipline.

Rebel heart is actually a better-structured novel than Blood Red Road – the interaction between characters; brother and sisters are more nuanced and convincing.  New characters such as the medicine man, Slim (who wears a woman’s dress) are weird but comforting.

Saba longs to be free to find Jack, get the truth out of him, but when she finally ditches her friends she discovers things about herself that she doesn’t like.Rebel Heart is clearly set up for a third one.  This second harrowing adventure will keep you in check till then and wanting more of the Dustlands trilogy.
© Sam Hawksmoor Sept 2012

author The Repossession and The Hunting

*Read The Droughtlanders by Carrie Mac is you want more award winning Dystopian fiction

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