All Korinna wants to do is stay alive. And live in peace. But she’s a Redseer, a blind priestess with the power to manipulate space and time. In the hostile world of Meredith Mooring’s debut, Redsight, that may be more difficult than expected. We define grimdark as a morally grey protagonist in a world stacked against them – and Redsight checks those boxes well. Redsight is a sapphic science fantasy with space nuns, space pirates, revolutionaries – and some very very angry women (and goddesses). It will appeal especially to lovers of Gideon the Ninth, Sisters of the Vast Black and The First Sister.
When we meet Korinna she is convinced she is the weakest novice in her Order. She struggles to use her Redsight, struggles to fit into the group and seems in a constant battle with herself. But as the novices undergo the final trials, someone sees her potential. She gets a position as navigator on an Imperium ship, intended to develop her into a pawn of the Imperium. Until the ship gets attacked by notorious pirate Aster Haran – a woman with a vendetta against the Imperium and a dark power all her own -and Korinna’s world shatters.
Redsight has many strengths. I loved the narration, the writing drawing me deep into the story. The world is fascinating and leaves scope for many other stories in it. Not in the sense that Redsight needs a sequel – it is a standalone, but more as a richly developed world that has a sense of history. It is full of details and references to earlier events, making it feel very real and peaking the reader’s curiosity. There are three orders, each following a chained goddess. Furia, Radiosa and Korinna’s own Vermicula. Out of their memory the present-day cults developed, each bringing their own flavour of dark magic into the mix. The three main proponents of each in the story, Aster, Sahar and Korinna, have to navigate both the personal and the broader aims of their respective communities. None of them are good people. They are each more than willing to sacrifice to reach their aims, with little regard for others. The story twists and turns rapidly, with betrayal (or seeming betrayal) a red thread throughout the plot.
And that is where Redsight falters a bit. I really enjoyed reading it but felt that it didn’t quite reach the potential of setting and characters. Knowing what the story could have been makes it all the more obvious when elements don’t quite fit together. The plot might have benefitted from another round of edits, streamlining some elements and making the character arcs clearer. Still, this is criticism on a high level, as I thoroughly enjoyed reading Redsight. Readers of Grimdark Magazine might want to know that while this is a clearly sapphic story, the romantic elements are few and far between. This is not a romantasy, this is a story of revolution and feminine rage first and foremost. Redsight merges a fun story with pensive elements and cements Meredith Mooring as a writer to watch out for.