What’s it all about?:
During the thirteenth century in north-west England, in one of the coldest winters in living memory, a formidable yet charming Irish healer, Molly, and the troupe she leads are driving their three wagons, hoping to cross the Pennine Mountains before the heavy snows set in.
Molly, her lover Jack, granddaughter Nemain, and young apprentice Hob become aware that they are being stalked by something terrible. The refuge they seek in a monastery, then an inn, and finally a Norman castle proves to be an illusion. As danger continues to rise, it becomes clear that the creature must be faced and defeated—or else they will all surely die. It is then that Hob discovers how much more there is to his adopted family than he had realized.
An intoxicating blend of fantasy and mythology, Something Red presents an enchanting world full of mysterious and fascinating characters— shapeshifters, sorceresses, warrior monks, and knights—where no one is safe from the terrible being that lurks in the darkness. In this extraordinary, fantastical world, nothing is as it seems, and the journey for survival is as magical as it is perilous.
What did I think?:
This story whizzes us back to the thirteen century where, a young boy called Robert (Hob) is adopted by a group of travellers, and shares in their journeys. This consists of the matriarch of the family – Molly, whose talents lie in healing, Jack, an enigmatic, mysterious and silent companion, and Molly’s grand-daughter Nemain, who appears to have picked up some of the magical family traits. As we meet the group, they are travelling to a monastery where they would seek shelter before journeying further. From the beginning, the reader gets a sense that the group is disquieted and wary, not certain if something malignant is following them, meaning them harm. This does not really escalate however until about the middle of the book, where the group encounters a massacre in a place that they had thought of as previously well-guarded. This is when the action really begins, and the travellers begin to fear the power of the creature that may be stalking them.
This is the debut novel from Douglas Nicholas, and after doing a little bit of research on the author. who is a well-established poet, I am able to appreciate the story slightly better. The writing is incredibly descriptive, and although this was beautiful to read, I felt it sometimes took away a little from the story in general. I didn’t really feel like the book picked up any pace until the last third, where it was then action-packed. In fact, I was getting to the point where I was certain that I would not carry on with the series. So then we come to the explosive and exciting last third, which did flip my point of view to a more favourable one, and I must admit, I am now intrigued to see “what comes next,” and where the author will take the characters. I think due to the time spent by the author in creating the characters and building up the atmosphere, I began to care about them, and am curious to know them a little better. So would I pick up the next book in the series? Not right now, but on the strength of the last 100 pages or so I think I might do in the near future.
Would I recommend it?:
Star rating (out of 5):