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Something Red: A Novel Paperback – June 18, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Something Red Series

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Editorial Reviews


“Rich in historical detail, this suspenseful coming-of-age fantasy grabs the reader with the facts of life in medieval England and the magic spells woven into its landscape.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A hauntingly affecting historical novel with a touch of magic.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“Not for the faint of heart, this pulse pounding page-turner grabs you from the start and never lets you go. A wickedly clever and evocative combination of history, horror, mystery, and magic.”—Booklist

“Debut novelist Douglas Nicholas goes for the throat with Something Red. Rich in history, ankle deep in blood, and packed with brilliant writing and whip-smart plotting.” (Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Assassin’s Code and Flesh & Bone)

“I love the writing, the vividness and poetic feel, maybe the sheer 'Irishness' of it. Beautifully observed moments abound in this: a waterfall, a snow-filled forest, a mountainscape. The sense of place is overwhelming; every stone, every flower pops out at you.”—Cecelia Holland, New York Times bestselling author of The King's Witch

“I loved Something Red. Douglas Nicholas conjures up the distant thirteenth century with prose as magical as that practiced by his sorceress-queen. This is a stunning debut novel of lyrical power and suspenseful drama. The hair-raising finale will keep you reading far into the night.”—Carol Goodman, national bestselling author of The Lake of Dead Languages

“Ably conjuring the beauties and drawbacks of the past, and with an engaging and unusual cast-list, Something Red is a thoroughbred novel of nightmare terror, ruled by a force of sheer evil that seems, and may well prove, unstoppable.”—Tanith Lee, award-winning author of The Silver Metal Lover

“Douglas Nicholas can artfully narrate a story. I was engaged from beginning to end . . . Something Red is sure to be a best seller.”—Agenda Magazine

Relax. Master storyteller Douglas Nicholas is about to transport you to far-away places, show you far-off times; but hold on tight: while the cresting rhythm of his cadenced prose mounts, your throbbing pulse—that same blood clock his characters tell time by—will pound unstoppably, as identical horror howls fatally outside, smiles beguilingly within, and your skin senses stone sweat behind the castle's painted plaster walls, beneath midwinter-deep drifts of snow. When I say Something Red is a sensation, I mean precisely that: this book's sensational! ”—Ronald Christ, author of Bonevardi: Constructing Magic

“As a reader I was so enthralled with the tale, it was like leaving reality and stepping into a wondrous and mysterious time with so much magic in it . . .You will not be disappointed.”—Great Minds Think Aloud

This is a beautifully written work, with evocative prose which captures the essence of traveling in winter in Middle Ages England.”—Snarky Writer

"Written with great skill, this atmospheric, yet gritty, story will remain with you, and it is a wonderful addition to the long line of stories devoted to the magic of fairy tales.”—Book Hog

Something Red absolutely blew me away. This is one of the best debuts I've read in years and the story itself still haunts my dreams. It was all the best elements of Irish folklore, historical fiction, and a very frightening mystery at its cores.”—Chaotic Compendiums

“Douglas Nicholas can artfully narrate a story. I was engaged from beginning to end.”—Agenda Magazine

“The poetic nature of the language, the increasing of the novel’s atmospheric spook and the members of the traveling family made Something Red a winner.” (MindingSpot)

“Douglas Nicholas has written a gut-wrenching, harrowing novel in Something Red; however, he’s also written a touching, realistic story about what made a family, love, and life during a 13th century English winter . . . Nicholas’ storytelling painted this novel with historic realism that made it pop right off the page. . . If you like a non-stop thrilling roller coaster ride, hop on board with Something Red!” (Popcorn Reads)

“Nicholas's beautiful prose, his detailed portrayal of life in medieval England, interesting characters, and underlying supernatural themes make this book a real gem.” (BookBrowse)

“The most stunning debut novel I have ever read. The language is beautiful and descriptive; the novel is an incredible sensory experience for the reader.” (Examiner.com)

“Nicholas handles characterization, setting and atmosphere deftly and expertly . . . Something Red is an excellent debut from a gifted author.” (Shelf Awareness)

“Memorable . . . Legendary.” (Pate Books)

“This darkly atmospheric debut novel is well worth its measured plot-building for its horrific, unexpected ending.” (Library Journal (starred review))

About the Author

Douglas Nicholas is an award-winning poet, whose work has appeared in numerous poetry journals, and the author of four previous books, including Something Red and Iron Rose, a collection of poems inspired by New York City. He lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with his wife Theresa and Yorkshire terrier Tristan.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books; Reprint edition (June 18, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451660227
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451660227
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #420,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By T. Sparks on September 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"The snow diminished, but in its stead came a malicious little wind that drew claws across the back of his neck."

Often when I start reading a book, I have a pretty good idea of what to expect. But once in a while, I am surprised, and Something Red was one of the biggest and best reading surprises I've had in a long time. Nicholas is a master storyteller and has the rare skill of being able gradually build a sense of dread and terror in such a way that it virtually sneaks up on the reader. This is a rather quiet story that relies not on big action scenes, but on an irresistible mix of wonderful characters and carefully constructed moments that add up to an amazing reading experience.

Set in thirteenth century England during an especially nasty winter, Molly and her band of friends are trying to cross a mountain pass with their wagons ahead of the impending heavy snows. Molly is an Irish woman of indeterminate age who brews potions and is able to communicate with crows. Her traveling companions are granddaughter Nemain (pronounced "Nevan"), a young girl in her teens who helps Molly make her concoctions and is able to sense danger; Jack, Molly's lover and protector, a mysterious and silent man who is not able to speak but is a strong and passionate defender; and Hob, Molly's thirteen-year-old apprentice whose main job is caring for the ox that pulls Molly's wagon. The story is told in third person mostly from Hob's point of view and takes place in a monastery, an inn, and a castle, as the troupe battles their way from place to place in the terrible winter snows that are gradually getting worse. As they make their way through the dark and snowy woods between each location, the feeling that something is stalking them is keenly felt by everyone in the troupe.
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Format: Hardcover
Douglas Nicholas' Something Red is a novel which will leave you breathless with admiration, fascination and shock. In my opinion it's the best debut novel of 2012, because it blends beautiful prose, fantasy, horror and historical elements in a perfect way.

Before I write anything else, I'll mention that Something Red restored my faith in historical fiction. I've been more or less disappointed with some of the historical novels I've tried to read during the last couple of years, because there are authors who tend to write mediocre novels with no originality or style (and most of these books contain bad and dull prose). Fortunately I had a chance to read Something Red, because it was something totally different and it was written in beautiful English.

There are probably readers who wonder what kind of a novel Something Red. I can say to these readers that historical fantasy is the first term that comes to my mind when I think about the content of this novel.

This novel is an interesting reading experience. At first it seems to be an exceptionally well written historical novel, but when the story begins to unfold and things begin to develop the reader will notice that there's much more to this novel than what meets the eye. This novel starts as historical fiction, but soon turns into historical fantasy (the mystical and mythological fantasy elements are slowly revealed to the reader).

Here's a bit of information about the plot:

The events take place in the 13th England. England suffers from one of coldest and harshest winters ever. At the beginning of the book a small group of people (an Irishwoman Molly, her granddaughter Nemain, her lover Jack and a young apprentice Hob) travels in the snow towards a monastery.
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Format: Hardcover
I was surprised by this novel that I compare a bit to "The name of the Rose" by Umberto Eco. That's a compliment! It shows in the writing of the story which is very nice. A beautiful style. Very detailed that allows the readers to immerse themselves in the atmosphere and get a good idea of ​​the characters surroundings.

I add a caveat however on some dialogues that seek to represent accurately the talk of the Middle Ages in a certain layer of society. This amused me the first time but I admit that repetition has added some length to my reading.

The counterpart of this detailed writing is that it slows down a little the action. Personally, I enjoyed the anticipation with the description of the trip in the forest. A moment. Then I began to be tired of waiting.
So, even if I enjoyed the book a lot, the fact that I was able to resume my reading and having only very little progress made in the action give me mixed feelings.
Almost as if the ending and battle scenes inside the castle were taking endless time to show up... It's a shame because the end is well built. I waited too long for a confrontation with the evil forces. It ruined my enjoyment.

However, the characters are intriguing and the readers try to guess their abilities. This allows the readers to imagine their roles before arriving to the outcome. I also had a preference for Molly. For once, the heroine is not a young girl but a woman with experience and some beautiful magic in herself.

A great discovery for its writting style, its poetry and descriptions

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