Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie Mclemore
Format: Arc provided by Raincoast Books
Release date: January 14th
Top 3 Genres: Young Adult, Magical Realism, LGBTQ
My rating: Set it on fire/If you have nothing else to read/you need to read it/Run and buy it.
To buy the book: CA • US • FR• Bookdep
Add to: Goodreads
Finally, the weekend is here, and with it a new review! It is hard sometimes to find the words to describe a certain book, and it is my case for today’s review of Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore. As I think it carries such an important message, in a beautiful and lush way, but lacked a bit of something to really carry me with it action-wise! I’ll let you decide by yourself as usual 😉
Summer, 1518. A strange sickness sweeps through Strasbourg: women dance in the streets, some until they fall down dead. As rumors of witchcraft spread, suspicion turns toward Lavinia and her family, and Lavinia may have to do the unimaginable to save herself and everyone she loves.
Five centuries later, a pair of red shoes seal to Rosella Oliva’s feet, making her dance uncontrollably. They draw her toward a boy who knows the dancing fever’s history better than anyone: Emil, whose family was blamed for the fever five hundred years ago. But there’s more to what happened in 1518 than even Emil knows, and discovering the truth may decide whether Rosella survives the red shoes.
The best of magical realism
In Dark and Deepest Red, we follow two parallel timelines, one in the 16th century in Strasbourg, France, and the other in our days in the US (or at least I think haha). In the past, we learn about the dancing plague that hit the city and how a young girl Lala is trying to survive it in many ways. Because when you are a Romani, and a woman, it is so so easy to blame you for all and call you a witch.
And in the present, things are not that much easier for Rosella and Emil, each feeling that they have to hide their past and their culture to blend in and be accepted. Because even now, it is so easy to be stigmatized and cast away. But the day strange red shoes take over Rosella’s will, they will have to face their greatest fear… and rediscover a forgotten history!
With incredible talent, Anna-Marie Mclemore does what they do best: talk about queer people (taking some liberty with history) in such a true and powerful way AND expose how people are persecuted and blamed so easily by society as a group if they dare to be different.
In Dark and Deepest Red, they tell us about Romani persecution, how they were forced to deny who they were to try (and way too often fail) to build a new home. And about Latino American immigrants, facing the same struggles, somewhere and somewhen else. No matter the time or the place, it seems that human’s default mode is to reject what is different. It is sad, and painful, but it is a truth that Anna-Marie Mclemore exposes beautifully in her books. But hey, not all is black, because the author reminds us also that despite all of that, there are still people embracing different, more than we think. And they let us close the book on a note of hope, always.
In a few words
If you are looking for a grand adventure and epic actions, pass this book. It is more of a reflexive nature. Centered about where fear can lead us, and what acceptance can change in the world…Also the best trans representation I read about 😉
See you for a cup,