Red is the blood that drops from her fingers – as red as her name is Scarlet.
Sharp are the knives she uses to cut the flesh – snip and swish and slide and slink, but always in. Knives are a motive, a tool, an obsession.
Yet for a time she can overcome her programming, a programming that began when a ‘mother’ appeared for a lost, hungry and despairing homeless teenager. A mother who provided a home; sisters; love; and a reason to live. A mother who sheltered, taught and programmed obedience into all her girls (daughters). To disobey a request / order was to be killed by a sister, and even the thought of disobedience was anathema.
So what ‘tasks’ did Mother want her daughters to do? Well each tasks was given a rationale that it would , the economy, the local businesses, or the local residents. To defeat the large and powerful on behalf of the small and lowly and weak. A compelling reason to kill? To murder? She argued it well and they believed. They had to believe for this is what she trained them, educated them, for.
Each daughter specialising in differing skills but for Red it was the knife and she always obeyed until she met someone she didn’t want to kill.
This book highlights the problems of homelessness and the abuse of young girls that leads them to want to join a ‘family’ aka a gang, that will love and support them. The same psychology that keeps gangs together and enables an end justifies the means attitude.
A gang leader influences and controls the members, sometimes through intimidation and always through manipulation of the emotions that enables to continue their control.
Each leader will have a special ‘second’ in command who ensures that the will of the leader is carried out (Mother’s biological daughter). They will also dominate the lower ranks. Pack instinct and the desire to conform and be accepted and love by the pack keeps each member motivated to remain within the gang.
It is clever in this book to use the girls as assassins and gang members as it is often, erroneously, thought that female gangs are less violent than male. In the right circumstances they can be just as dangerous and violent or more so.
I enjoyed this book more as a story of female gangs and how girls can be programmed into violence, than the romantic relationship aspects. I quite understand why the relationship had a sado-masochistic element as a result of Red’s programming but I did not see it as a relationship that would last once lust had been fulfilled. I was not convinced by the ending or the exploration of Red’s emotions.
The author says that The Hourglass series is a sociopolitical discourse about capitalism and how top down decisions affects the lives of ordinary people. I am fascinated with financial centers and major property acquisition players. My approach is unique as I do not state the obvious but let the reader decide what is obvious to them.
I saw this element in the rationale behind the assassinations but felt that it could have been brought out more – the ending did not emphasise this enough.
Thinking back over the writing style and general story-telling, I would not read another in this series.