I was very excited to receive a review copy of “The Red Dust” by D. E. Barretto recently and I am equally excited to tell you about it. This is my first read from this author, but I really loved it. From the start, we are introduced to a cast of characters who have to save the world from the “red dust”.
If you’re confused by what that is, they pretty much are too. They have little to no information to go on, and their task seems impossible. Until one day, Evie stumbles across an unconscious man lying in the middle of the street – and this mystery man may hold some answers to their problem. Evie helps him, hoping he might be the key to saving their world. And this is when it really gets interesting!
A mix of adventure, intrigue, and cross-dimensional exploration, the novel takes readers on a journey that is both exhilarating and deeply thought-provoking. Something to know from the start – this book has some heavy content and it doesn’t hold back (but I love that about it).
Content warnings: Violence, sexual content, and death
The ensemble cast is an immediate draw. Evie, Elijah, Bev, Dick, and Johnny’s team dynamic reminds me of the enduring power of collaboration and hope, even when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds – to save the world from red dust (when they don’t even know what it really is).
Evie, in particular, was one of my faves. She’s a beacon of resilience and there are layers of mystery in her storyline that kept me turning the pages to see what happens next.
Barretto introduces us to Zoey, a character with layers upon layers of complexity. Juxtaposing her everyday challenges with the grand stakes of the main plot, Barretto skillfully intertwines the personal and the epic. Zoey’s dynamic with Tony and her mysterious client adds depth to a story already brimming with enigmas. The contrasts between her “natural problem-solving” skills and the spiraling complexity of her tasks make for a riveting subplot.
The world-building was great. I was intrigued by the “red dust” and I could feel its omnipresence and the weight of it with every page. Barretto crafts a world that feels both alien and intimately familiar, echoing the dichotomies we face in our own lives.
The heavy themes are handled with a deftness that speaks to Barretto’s prowess as a writer. They serve the narrative rather than overshadowing it, providing gravitas and stakes that resonate deeply.
“The Red Dust” is a triumph, skillfully fusing various plotlines into a single, compelling story. Any fan of speculative fiction must read Barretto’s work because of its complex characterizations, rich world-building, and exciting plot.
It serves as a reminder of the depths of the human spirit, the complexity of our world or worlds, and the surprising relationships that unite us all. This book is an experience rather than just something to read. Highly recommend!