During the 1200s in northwest England, in one of the coldest winters in living memory, a formidable middle-aged Irishwoman and the troupe she leads are trying to drive their three wagons across the mountains before the heavy snows set in. Molly, her powerful and enigmatic lover, her fey granddaughter, and her young apprentice, soon discover that something terrible prowls the woods. As the group travels from refuge to refuge, it becomes apparent that the mysterious evil force must be faced and defeated - or else they will surely die.
An intoxicating and spirited blend of fantasy, mythology, and history, Something Red features the most fascinating of characters including shapeshifters, Irish battle queens, Norman knights, Templars, pilgrims, Saracens, a Lithuanian noblewoman, warrior monks, strong - even dangerous - women, and ten murderous mastiffs, as well as an epic snowstorm that an early reader described as "one of the coldest scenes since Snow Falling on Cedars."
THE WHEELS WERE SOLID disks as high as Hob himself, and the wood was warped a little and wet with the snow now coming down hard and clinging in patchy lumps to the rims. The main wagon had the aft right wheel fast in a drift, and as Hob added his slight frame to the stamping, cursing struggle to free it, his foot plunged to the ankle in a depression filled with a freezing gruel of snow and mud.
It felt like stepping into fire. Gasping with the shock, he threw himself against the tailboard. A smell of sweat and woodsmoke and rosemary came to him from his left: Molly, her ample well-turned arms, white as mare's milk, glimmering at the edge of his sight. Before his face loomed the weathered plank he forced his breast against. Nemain stood behind them and skimmed handfuls of ashes beneath their feet. At his right Jack Brown suddenly found purchase underfoot, his toes in the green leather boots stuffed with straw digging in, scrabbling in ash and ice and pebbles, and ...
A haunting blend of history, fantasy, and suspense, Something Red takes readers deep into the dark woods of thirteenth-century England, where something vicious is lurking. Hob is a boy on the verge of manhood, making his way through the woods with a small troupe: Molly, a middle-aged Irishwoman highly respected for her healing powers; Jack, her strong and silent partner; and Nemain, Molly's granddaughter. Molly leads this adopted family and their wagons across the Pennines mountain range, but they soon come upon evidence of unmistakable evil. What kind of beast could slash and tear so gruesomely at human flesh and take out an entire inn full of robust men and the fiercest guard dogs? With fear rising in their hearts and ...
Something Red is not your run-of-the-mill horror novel, and is more likely to appeal to historical fiction readers than to horror aficionados. Nicholas’s beautiful prose, his detailed portrayal of life in medieval England, interesting characters, and underlying supernatural themes make this book a real gem. It’s without doubt one of my favorites of the year and I eagerly await the next entry in what I hope will be a series.
(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Full Review (1236 words).
Something Red is set in 13th century England, in the latter part of what is known as England's High Middle Ages (essentially the time period from the Norman conquest in 1066 to the end of the reign of the last Norman king in 1272).
Although English life was beginning to change with the gradual development of cities, the economy was still mostly agrarian in the 1200s, with 90% of the population (estimated to be around four million people in 1300 AD) making their living off the land, either as farmers (growing wheat for personal use or other grain crops to feed livestock) or herders (mostly sheep and goats). Villages and towns primarily served as commercial centers that were reached by poorly maintained mud roads; the only large city ...
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