The massive labyrinth was built to protect Zadie Kalver’s isolated desert town. Unfortunately, living in the maze’s shadow makes her feel anything but safe. Even without its enchanted deathtraps and illusions, a mysterious killer named Dex lurks in its corridors, terrorizing anyone in his path.
But when Zadie’s best friend vanishes into the labyrinth-and everyone mysteriously forgets he exists- completing the maze becomes her only hope of saving him. In desperation, Zadie bribes the only person who knows the safe path through-Dex-into forming a tenuous alliance.
Navigating a deadly garden, a lethal blood-filled hourglass, and other traps-with an untrustworthy murderer for her guide-Zadie’s one wrong step from certain death. But with time running out before her friend (and secret crush) is lost forever, Zadie must reach the exit and find him. If Dex and the labyrinth don’t kill her first.
This book description reminded me of The Maze Runner, a novel I fell head over heels for and kept me guessing, and the cover really grabbed me.
The world-building is creative, detailed, and pulled me in almost immediately. The Skilled, the Blanks, and the labyrinth housing the monster, Dex, and separating the town folk from the Creator held me spellbound. The author does a magnificent job explaining Zadie’s world without an info dump. Zadie is also very likable, and has survived tragic circumstances in her past. I cringed more than once when reading about her interactions with the Warden. Landon is the stereotypical hero, and plays the role of rescuer and town hero very well. But by far, Dex is the most compelling, and multi-layered character. Honestly, if the author wrote a spin-off focusing on Dex’s backstory, I’d snatch it up immediately. The story is well-paced, and the obstacles Zadie and Dex face in the labyrinth are dangerous, challenging, and, at times, heart-breaking.
Everything was going smoothly – awesome world-building, life and death circumstances, intense action – until it became very obvious that one character isn’t what the reader is led to believe. That’s nothing new – it goes along with good storytelling. But the revelation is meant to be a twist towards the end, and some things just didn’t ring true for me with this character early in the story. In scanning other reviewer comments, it didn’t seem to come as a shock to them, either.
If you’re looking for an original YA dystopian/fantasy, The Red Labyrinth fits the bill nicely. Although the ending includes a cliffhanger, it wraps rather suddenly, and I’ll definitely be adding the next book to my TBR.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.