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

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