Redemptor Domus by Gamelyn Chase

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Redemptor Domus by Gamelyn Chase

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: A dark tale of maturity set in an exclusive religious school, Redemptor Domus is a dark, difficult, but ultimately compelling read that utilised a wide range of language to immerse the reader in a specific time and place.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: April 2018
Publisher: Troubador Publishing
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1789010091

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A young boy arrives at an exclusive faith school on the scenic North Wales coast, sent far from his family in the Far East. As the boy travels to the school, a family tragedy causes the boy to arrive at the school a vulnerable orphan, with an uncertain future. Plunged into a school full of danger and betrayal, the boy is seen as a trophy by friends and enemies alike. With them locked into their scheming and plotting, it comes to the boy to attempt to clean up the pit of filth that the school has become.

Born into a Catholic family, author Gamelyn Chase shunned religion at an early age and later travelled the world as a merchant navy officer. An aspiring target rifleman, he's regularly to be found practising on the ranges at Bisley, and Redemptor Domus is his first novel. Rereading a book by French author Roger Peyrefitte, Special Friendships, author Gamelyn Chase found himself admiring the strong prose and interesting setting of the book, but despairing of an ending which he found rather unsatisfying. This inspired him to write his own novel - a work taking elements from Peyrefitte's work, but very much its own beast.

It's no small beast either - this striking book is a hefty 432 pages in hardback, and the fiery cover displays several of the themes that pervade the content within. Now, I should be clear that this isn't an easy read - heavy themes are handled here, and the book is written in an old-fashioned, slightly grand tone – which I initially struggled with, but soon settled into, and found fitted the setting and character of the book rather well -although some vocabulary choices I found rather eyebrow-raising.

What works well though, is Chase's understanding of the savage realities that can occur in a school environment where children are left to govern things for themselves. In a similar vein to Lord of the Flies, he examines the reactions of children when placed in situations that many of us would consider adult. By showing the consequences that these actions have, he gives a real levity to the events of the book - and it's that which fits with the sombre tone and unique language to provide a book that, whilst not for everyone, is certainly an original read which I found rather compelling.

For further reading I suggest The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness - a very different read, but one that, like Redemptor Domus, examines youth under pressure with clever use of language and setting.

You can read more about Gamelyn Chase here.

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