These novels and novellas fit into a patchwork and now I am starting to get a sense of the whole picture. And a dark and disturbing picture it is.
Songs is one of the bleakest of the set. Red Piccarilli (you will cry of this boy) is as tragic a figure as Job---and biblical references keep cropping up. Crucifixion imagery abounds. Red's powers emanates from a stigmata like wound in his hand, making him a Christ-like figure in this reviewer's mind. I am betting that this imagery is also present in the suggestively titled "Within This Garden Weeping"---the second in this series.
Songs is a rough book. Rough on the reader's emotions. I can only imagine how hard it was to write, but Thompson never shies away from the truth of the stories, no matter how dark and harrowing. At times I was shocked, at others I found myself almost pleading for certain events not to happen. But Thompson shows not mercy. Division is not a place of happy endings and some of the events that occur there will not leave your memory for a long time.
Like King's Derry, Division is a haunted, rotting, corrupted place where the veil between this world and the next is thin and at times non-existent. Ashes and the smell of burned bodies and rotting flesh permeate the air. The people that live there, a close-knit and damned group that interact and co-mingle with demons, are hardly ever what they seem. There are heroes of course, and they are powerful and courageous and desperately seeking protection for the ones they love and redemption for themselves, yet always outnumbered and often forced to make the most devastating of sacrifices. And no sacrifices are greater than those made by Red.
Red is a crucial character in the whole Division Mythos and perhaps its greatest hero. First appearing in Before Lenora Wakes we find him again after the action in the as-of-yet not released Within this Garden Weeping. We pick up the action when his family moves to Division after the tragic events of Garden--of which we learn tantalizing yet incomplete details. Red is powerful yet naive and easy prey for the demons that wait to feed on his innocence and delight in debasing and torturing him. But Red is more than just a confused and outnumbered boy. He has a wild power that must be respected and he has a place in the pantheon of the powerful supernatural creatures of Division and I want to see where his road takes him. Songs also brings us several new and very exciting new characters, particularly his powerful grandfather, the ambiguous and terrifying Gravesend, the deceiver Proserpine, the loathsome Abraham Nutley, and the powerful yet to this point shadowy figure of Legion.
Lee Thompson's Division series, in my opinion, is an important work of dark fantasy and should be read by anyone who follows and and is serious about dark literature. Required reading if you will.