January 5, 2013

Review: "Something Red" By Douglas Nicholas

Every once in a great while you just happen upon a book and author that you absolutely know nothing about, but you take a chance and take it home with you and you are simply blown away at what you've discovered.  Something Red, by Douglas Nicholas, is just such a book and is really a stunning little novel.  This dark and grim story revolves around a small troupe of travelers on a journey through a rugged wild portion of northern England during a bleak and cold winter in the 13th Century.  During the course of their trip the horror and terror mounts until the explosive climax near the end of the book.

The author of Something Red, Douglas Nicholas, in my opinion, is a writer of great promise.  Not only can he spin a great yarn, but his prose is gorgeous and verges on the poetic at times; which actually makes sense as Nicholas is apparently a well known published poet from the Hudson Valley of New York state.  The characters in Something Red are interesting and well wrought, and his use of magic and mythology is deft and sure-footed and works well in the plot.  I have to say that more times than not this dark tale reminded me of the early Anglo-Saxon alliterative epic poem, Beowulf (especially Seamus Heaney's brilliant translation). Also, it is actually quite hard to pigeon-hole this book as horror, fantasy, mystery, or medieval historical fiction--as it really is all of the above.  Mostly though, this is just one damn good book that I had a hard time putting down until I'd read the last page.  I ain't gonna say anymore, other than to urge you to read this superb and riveting debut novel from Douglas Nicholas.  This received five out of five stars from me, as it really was a most excellent novel, and one that I will surely read again sometime soon.

Something Red
By Douglas Nicholas
Emily Bestler Books/ATRIA Books, 2012 
315 pp.
ISBN 978-1-4516-6007-4


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