Today is my stop on the blog tour for ‘Red in Tooth and Claw’ by Ryan Howse organised by Storytellers on Tour. There is also an International Giveaway at the end of this post where you have the chance to win an ebook of this fantastic book for yourself.
I hope that you will check out the book and the author, and enjoy the rest of the tour with the schedule in the banner below or (HERE).
*Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review, all views are my own.’*
A brutal wilderness.
Hungry, plague-ridden animals.
A winter so cold it snaps wood.
Chemosh, a scout imprisoned by the enemy, agrees to lead the way through this wilderness for his freedom. But both his knowledge and his resilience are put to the test, not just by the wilderness, but by the chaotic, violent man he guides. A man he must rely on if they are to survive.
CW: Injured and dead animals (wilderness survivalism), Disease, Claustrophobia
I have started and restarted this review so many times, and even now I’m not sure that I actually have the words to write this review, let alone describe this unique book in a way that will truly do it justice. Firstly, though I can say that I loved Red in Tooth and Claw and that it is a book that I will revisit again and again in the future. Although I have to admit that even once I’ve had a chance to reread this book, I’m still not sure I’d have the words to adequately sum up this one.
Part of that stems from the fact ambiguity is threaded throughout this book and used to great effect – asking questions of the characters, of the world and of the reader, without necessarily demanding answers carved in stone. This in turn is matched by an unreliable narrator. Two elements, which make Red in Tooth and Claw hard to pin down, and in some cases, that wouldn’t work. How often do we read books and look for the markers of familiarity even amongst the fantastical? We look for answers, and reasons and connections. We look for a map that we can follow. That is not what we get here. Certainly, there are points of familiarity – but for me, much of where that connection came from in this book was the emotions, both the characters and the feelings that this book invokes as you read it, and again that feeds into that ambiguity because emotions are endlessly subjective. My fear is not your fear. Your grief is different to mine. Yet we can understand the shape of them, we can dive into Chemosh’s feelings during his captivity and emphasize, even as we imagine how it might be if our places were reversed.
Red in Tooth and Claw is a story of simplicity and complexity. This isn’t a sweeping, epic tale – it can’t be within the space of 150 pages, and yet there is such depth to it within that space. It has the feeling of that wild space, seemingly empty, but if you watch and wait long enough, there is life and death and all its trappings to be seen and heard and felt.
I think if I was forced to choose a word to sum up this book, it would be resonance. It’s a book that resonates – emotionally and mentally, this book made me feel with every word and even now I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s about two individuals across a cultural divide, sharing a journey and finding points of understanding against the backdrop of a wilderness that you can feel in your very bones (I definitely shivered at more than one point).
Red in Tooth and Claw is a book that you need to experience for yourself, and it is an experience. One that is carefully crafted, and yet does not feel that way when you are in the middle of it. The writing was fantastic, the worldbuilding and descriptions were vivid enough to create visceral reactions on more than one occasion, and the pacing and tension carried this book along the knife-edge of survival. The two main characters – Chemosh and Agash – were fantastically realised as well, bringing distinct voices and experiences to the tale, their interactions and the journey they find themselves on. I honestly don’t think I could choose a favourite between them, and Howse does an excellent job of making them real and relatable and allowing us to see both sides of the divide that they find themselves on.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. This is a book that is begging to be experienced by as many people as possible, that demands to be felt and deserves to be on as many shelves as possible.
About the Author:
Ryan Howse is the author of The Steel Discord, The Alchemy Dirge, and Red in Tooth and Claw. He lives in Saskatchewan, Canada, with his wife, children, and cats.
Prize: An ebook copy of Red in Tooth and Claw by Ryan Howse –INTERNATIONAL!
Starts: April 25th, 2021 at 12:00am EST
Ends: May 2nd, 2021 at 11:59pm EST
You can enter here:a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js