Waking up in the woods with no recollection of events, Richard is soon surrounded by strangers that share his struggle to survive in the empty wilderness with only limited supplies. As unwilling participants of a sadistic game, they’re at the mercy of a host that only wishes to provide sick entertainment to his viewers. Escape seems impossible, but the risk may be worth it if it means freedom and safety – the other option is to engage in the sport where failure means death.
(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I thank Seán O’Connor for giving me the opportunity.
If there’s one thing I know O’Connor does well, it’s putting his protagonists in perilous situations and making them suffer. From The Mongrel to Weeping Season, survival has been the number one objective, the chapters offering grim yet gripping situations of life and death. The theme for Weeping Season was an interesting one, a game reserve dedicated to pleasing its audience with the pain and struggle of its helpless contestants. Personally, I really like the idea of using and twisting such a thing as a game show into something else – the warping of the ordinary into the perverse, where success is critical for living another day. Sure, it’s been done many times and in a number of ways, but O’Connor’s ability was nothing to be dismissed. The atmosphere was also something I was able to soak in, winter being my favourite season and the cold being my most liked climate to read about.
A few things didn’t work for me, and of course it comes down to personal taste. As much as I wanted to, I didn’t connect with the characters all that much, and I’m likely in the minority when I say I would have preferred more development in their relationships through their time spent at camp. Most of them seemed decent, but I didn’t find them real enough to care one way or the other, and as it was, it struck me as a slight rushed and lacking depth, especially toward the end. What paranoia and fear there was I wished was amplified tenfold, perhaps with established alliances and enemies along the way, but I know the primary focus was on the games rather than a deep dive into the human psyche. Don’t get me wrong, the objectives were entertaining in their own right, I particularly liked the focus on creating personal trials by forcing the reality of their fears, but that lack of connection with those I was reading about definitely affected my experience.
The word I’d use to describe the ending would be ‘brave’, and I was largely impressed rather than disappointed with the ambitious climax. I can honestly say that even though I knew something strange was occurring, I didn’t expect that calibre of a conclusion – something that incorporated science fiction. It was really nice to be surprised and have that “oh” moment, when everything came to light and the bizarre became the even more bizarre. I could compare it to many other works of fiction that possibly inspired its conception, but as said it stands out on its own as an engaging blend of genres.
In conclusion: I found it difficult to rate Weeping Season overall as I felt something was missing, yet I admit I enjoyed it for the most part. The survival aspects were what I expected from the author, all helplessness with emphasis on personal phobias. Unfortunately, the characters and some of the pacing is where I had some issues, but that didn’t deter me from closing the book with a feeling of satisfaction. I’m looking forward to O’Connor’s future, without doubt he’s finding his voice as an established writer.
Any sense of civilisation they’d retained had descended into chaos. Madness. Humanity had deserted Block 18, sending it into a downward spiral of depravity, its participants’ collective acquiescence justified by the prospect of food.
© Red Lace 2020