Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Something Red by Douglas Nicholas

There’s something about historical horror that just really works for me.  Sure, the modern world can be scary at times, but consider the 13th century. Most people lived in small, isolated villages.  Fear  - of hell, of the supernatural, of famine and disease and violent death  - was a constant companion, and help was very far off indeed.

Douglas Nicholas capitalizes on all of this to craft a very successful horror-suspense experience in Something Red.   Irish exile and healer Maeve (known as Molly), her daughter, her hired man and their apprentice Hob are traveling over the Pennine Mountains, and something deadly is following them. 

Nicholas is best known as a poet, and it shows.   His writing is atmospheric and descriptive, while at the same time, extremely direct.  The author does an excellent job of bringing a cold and claustrophobic medieval world alive, taking us from monastery to inn to castle.  The settings come alive with just the right mix of details, and the highly realistic (and obviously well researched) scenes make the supernatural elements of Something Red that much more believable.  Although I would describe this story as more plot-driven than character oriented, Hob, our point of view character, definitely undergoes growth as he learns more about himself and the secrets of his new ‘family.’
 Something Red  is a great choice for horror fans looking for something out of the ordinary.  For more medieval horror, try Karen Maitland’s The Owl Killers.  For historical, atmospheric horror in general, Christopher Buehlman’s Those Across the River (reviewed previously on this blog) is a good choice or try Buehlman ‘s new release that’s set during the Black Death, Between Two Fires.

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