Red Hail by Jamie Killen

‘Blood falling from the heavens.  Sure sounds like Red Hail to me.’

The story opens in Galina, Arizona in 1960.  A young woman, Anza, is pregnant, and seeks help to end the pregnancy.  While she seeks help from a woman named Dove, a storm of red hail occurs. And thus begins a sequence of bizarre and frightening events that rip the town of Galina apart.

Sixty years later, Professor Colin Ayres has spent years researching what happened in Galina.  While he’s almost certain that what happened in Galina is a case of mass hysteria, he’s forced to re-examine his conclusions when his partner, Alonzo, started exhibiting similar symptoms.

The story moves between 1960 and 2020, as we learn about what happened in Galina and Professor Ayres’s search for answers. In 1960, we discover a series of different stages to the illness which seemed only to affect some people.  And then, after destroying several lives and ripping the town apart, it stopped.  In 2020, the symptoms reappear.  In addition to Alonzo, several others are affected.  What is this disease?  What is the cause?  How was it stopped in 1960, and why has it reappeared in 2020?

You’ll need to read the novel to find the answers to those questions.  I don’t want to spoil the story by providing more detail.  This novel is part horror and part science fiction.  Ms Killen does a fine job of moving the story between the two time periods and peopling it with some interesting (as well as some truly despicable) characters.

Note: My thanks to the author for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

2020 Aussie Author Challenge

I set out to complete the EMU Level of this challenge:

Read and review 24 titles written by Australian Authors of which at least 10 of those authors are female, at least 10 of those authors are male, and at least 10 of those authors are new to you; Fiction or non-fiction, at least 4 different genre.

And here is my list of (currently, as at 1 March 2020) 26:

Books by 10 male authors:

Maurice Blackburn     by David Day                                 (non- fiction/biography)

Unbound Justice (Sandstone#1) by Michael Beashel                         (historical fiction)

Unshackled (Sandstone#2)          by Michael Beashel                        (historical fiction)

Succession (Sandstone#3)            by  Michael Beashel                        (historical fiction)            

Colombiano                                     by Rusty Young                                (contemporary fiction)

Bodies of Men                                  by Nigel Featherstone                   (historical Fiction)

Changing Fortunes: A history of the Australian Treasury 

by Paul Tilley                                      (non-fiction/history)

The Golden Country                       by Tim Watts                                      (non-fiction/history)

Boy on a Wire                                   by Jon Doust                                      (coming of age)

Island Story                                        by Ralph Crane and Danielle Wood


Books by 16 female authors

Saltwater                                             by Cathy McLennan                        (non-fiction/memoir)    

The Bee and the Orange Tree     by Melissa Ashley                            (historical fiction)            

Watershed                              by Jane Abbott                                  (dystopian)        

The Great Divide                              by L.J.M. Owen                                 (crime fiction)   

Field of Poppies                                 by Carmel Bird                                   (literary/contemporary fiction) 

Storytime: Growing Up with Books     

 by Jane Sullivan      (non-fiction/memoir)

Shepherd                                            by Catherine Jinks                            (historical fiction)

The Cherry Picker’s Daughter      by Kerry Reed-Gilbert                    (non-fiction/memoir/Indigenous Issues)

The Shining Wall                               by Melissa Ferguson                       (dystopian)

The Changing Room                        by Christine Sykes                            (contemporary)

Asbestos in Australia                       by Lenore Layman and Gail Phillips          


Nothing New: A history of second-hand

by Robyn Annear                             (non-fiction/social history)          

Perhaps a Little Madness              by C. J. Martin                                    (literary/ contemporary)              

The Drover’s Wife                            by Leah Purcell                                  (play/Indigenous Issues)

Red Can Origami                               by Madelaine Dickie                        (literary/ contemporary/ Indigenous Issues)       

The Good Turn                                  by Dervla McTiernan                      (crime fiction)                   

The (more than) ten authors new to me

Michael Beashel

 Rusty Young

Paul Tilley

Tim Watts

Jon Doust

Cathy McLennan

Jane Abbott

Jane Sullivan

Catherine Jinks

Kerry Reed-Gilbert

Melissa Ferguson

Christine Sykes

Lenore Layman and Gail Phillips

C.J. Martin

Leah Purcell

Madelaine Dickie

Fiction/Non-fiction at least 4 different genre

Of the 26 books listed above, 9 were non-fiction (I’ve categorised them as biography, memoir, history, social history, science and medical)

Of the 17 fiction, 6 were historical fiction, 5 were contemporary, 2 were crime fiction, 2 were dystopian, 1 play, 1 coming of age.

Reviews of each of these books have been linked to the Aussie Author Challenge are on this blog and on Goodreads.

I’ll keep reading and linking my reviews to the Aussie Author Challenge.

Who knows how many I’ll finish by the end of 2020?