There’s a lot of innovative fantasy based in creative settings being published at the moment, exemplified by Michael R Fletcher’s Beyond Redemption. It’s as removed as you can get from typical tropes; there’s no hero, no greater purpose and definitely no good triumphing over evil. The novel is peopled with nasty, selfish, dishonest and vicious characters and all are bent toward their own ends. What Michael R Fletcher has achieved, however, is a fascinating story that makes you care about the fate of its cast.
Set in world where a person’s insanity and belief actually shapes reality, sociopaths and psychopaths are some of the most powerful and influential people about. In essence, the ‘magic’ in this realm is made from madness. It’s a unique idea and Fletcher takes it to fantastic places with all manner of craziness manifesting in different ways, both dangerous and horrifying.
The creativity doesn’t stop there: this is the first time I’ve read a novel where a protagonist has to deal with a heavy dose of flu throughout most of the book. It’s a weird feature but one that seems to perfectly fit the feel of the story and the world of it’s setting. On one hand we have a man who has created a religion with the sole purpose of producing a god he can control; on the other is a trio of murderers and thieves, drifting about looking for a score yet causing havoc at every turn.
When the three stumble unto the idea of kidnapping the would-be god, a young, innocent boy, it unleashes a set of events with catastrophic results. The kidnappers, a grizzled, old warrior, a handsome and deluded swordsman, and a psychotic kleptomaniac are brilliant. The bickering and back-biting makes for a tense but fun read as the trio steal the boy away. His creator, a powerful sociopath and ruler of a small kingdom is equally dangerous as his own madness begins to spiral out of control and he sends some terrifying assassins after his fledgling god.
In the end, everyone’s insanity is the cause of their own demise; all the scheming and paranoia, all the murder and theft, all the hubris and delusion becomes the catalyst of the actors’s downfalls. It’s a tough read in one way as every character is riddled with hatred and selfishness and desperation. Yet, it’s also a rip-roaring page turner because of all the above; the cast is driven and twisted and crazed and it makes for a brilliant book. Beyond Redemption is a brutal world, featuring a hateful cast of actors and it’s great.
Published by Harper Voyager