Published: 28th June 2010 by Penguin
Format: Hardcover, 222 pages
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The brothers Zluty and Bily live happily in their little house in the desert. Every year Zluty journeys to the great forest while Bily stays to tend their desert home. And every year Zluty returns with exciting tales of his adventures.
When a devastating red wind sweeps across the land, Bily and Zluty are forced to fight for their survival into the perilous unknown.
The restless and adventurous Zluty and his timid and shy brother Bily eke out an uncertain living on barren plains. While Bily stays home and cultivates a garden, makes clay-works and tends to their cottage, Zluty must travel far and wide to gather supplies for their roof-tiles, mattresses, and store up food for Winter. Once a year, Zluty makes a ten-day journey to the dark Northern Forest to gather some of the rarer supplies they need. But this year, a red cloud hangs ominously in the sky as Zluty leaves for the forest, plunging the brothers into a struggle for survival.
I think the loveliest thing about the novel is the careful delineation in the two protagonists – it’s not that Bily isn’t brave, it’s that he greatly dislikes change and wants everything and everyone around him to be safe. Zluty’s love of the outdoors and travelling, his urge to explore new territories and unlock the secrets of the world around him speak to the adventurous parts of our souls, while Bily’s love of home, hearth, and a healthy family resonate with our instincts for self-preservation.
I love the lush imagery used in this book – it’s the first book by Isobelle Carmody that I have read, but I have been wooed by the vivid landscapes and characters in The Red Wind. The comfort of the brothers’ cottage, the mysterious allure of the forest and the tantalising possibilities of the desert and mountains create a magical story-world that will appeal to readers young and old alike.
The cute illustrations help to bring the book to life, and I love how detailed the sketches are. I think the book would have a lot less appeal without the drawings to help the imagination along. The brothers don’t really know a lot about the world they live in outside of their limited experience, but the images hint that their world is more familiar to us than we may first realise.
My only complaint about The Red Wind is that Zluty and Bily’s adventure only seems to be beginning when the book ends. It leaves one desperate for the next book and I was a little disappointed in the lack of resolution. But I have the sequel, The Cloud Road, ready to go, so hopefully I won’t remain disappointed for long!
The Red Wind is a gorgeous tale of brothers that will be enjoyed by young readers, with themes that will appeal to readers of all ages. Although it was a quick read for me, I know I will be looking forward to reading the continuing adventures of Bily and Zluty in the books to come.