Red by D.J. Doyle is an extreme horror novella with a murderous plot and odd characterization. It’s the basic man-seeking-sex-and-death setup, bar a couple of twists here and there. Enjoyable? Indeed. Good? Perhaps. Red suffers from terrible punctuation maladies, staccato writing and sprinkled omnipresent thought processes. It becomes laborious quite quickly, and the heavy handed tense structure makes the novella an anchor in an otherwise lightweight environment. Technically it’s a mess, but oh gosh it’s a fun read! If you can look past the many mistakes, you’ll find a beautiful festering wound underneath.
The Freudian phallic theme works to a certain extent. When it’s first introduced, one is quite taken aback by the outright headiness which is so prevalent throughout the novella. There’s a constant sexual urge that doesn’t abate. Never. It’s constantly a sexual exploit for the main character and his obsession with blood and women. At times, and only.ever so slightly, there’s a thread of brilliance waiting to be unraveled. Unfortunately Doyle never reaches the upper echelons of good horror fiction. It’s as if the writer dabbles with intelligent, thought provoking material, but just falls short when push comes to shove. I’m all for extreme novels. I think it’s important that readers get to experience the smutty underworld of horror, however, with that being said there’s a huge difference between real horror and horror for the sake of shocking someone. Unfortunately, Red falls in the latter category. It reads like a shock-your-mother ode and haggles along like an indecent proposal.
As a novella, Red works. It misses the mark a couple of times, but the enjoyment of reading something so salacious is still there. Is it a literary masterpiece? Not completely. I’d personally read this lovely little novella if there’s not much else going on. You have to be open-minded and ready for something hectic – Doyle leaves you breathless at the end. So prepare for the worst (in a good way), but be cautiously optimistic when reading the novella – you won’t always like where it takes you.
In summary, Red reminds me of a roller coaster ride. Not the big one with the piss-inducing screaming. No, the smaller roller coaster the kids go on – the one you tried when you were too afraid to take the big plunge. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!
RATING: 2.5 / 5