Rachel wakes up from a heavy night out to find the world has changed, her step-mother is dead in her bed with a glowing red mark on her, and the town is in chaos. The book starts as most apocalyptic novels do, but then offers something different almost immediately. I enjoyed the beginning in which we’re discovering the world with her and dealing with the unknown. The streets are full of smoke and destruction and all the bodies she discovers have a glowing red mark on them.
Our antagonist, Rachel, is desperately searching for her missing father, hoping he has not met the same fate as the rest of the town. Rachel’s friend, Jenny, joins her on her journey. Unfortunately, the Jenny character is pretty annoying, falling apart at the slightest thing, and there’s just so much screaming. Rachel is resilient and has a mature head on her shoulders for being 19. She’s thrown in to something of a leadership role amongst the survivors who gravitate toward the hospital. It’s a little hard to believe that a 19 year old would be a leader in any group, let alone a group of apocalypse survivors. The other major characters make for a diverse band of survivors, from the rugged cop Joel to the untrustworthy Scott. You feel the panic and confusion as they all try to understand the mystery of what has happened.
The interesting beginning drags on a little too long as we wait for the story to develop further. There is a significant amount of tension that builds up as bodies start to twitch, but at that point, it’s not clear what will happen next. We’re kept in suspense along with the characters. It’s not really until the second half of the book that we face a present danger. When the pace picks up, it’s really rewarding, and worth the slow burn build up.
This is not an apocalyptic zombie book (hooray!), which is really refreshing. There is not too much gore for the first two thirds of the book. It’s mostly horrific burns caused by getting too close to the glowing red mark of deceased love ones. This all changes when the dead come back fully, and the gore is turned up to 11. There are some vile and disgusting monsters and viscera that will please even the most die-hard gorehound. The way the bodies of the dead move is extremely creepy, even in the early stages. It makes me think of a cross between a certain scene from The Exorcist and creatures from the game Dead Space. And that is a wonderful thing.
As I said, there is a lot of focus on the tension rather than action initially. But you must stick with it and you’ll be more than satisfied. What makes a book like this is the monsters, and Bovberg has nailed it. He’s given us something new and disturbing, and the images will stick in your head after you’ve finished reading. These are genuinely scary and repulsive – so different from the tired zombie tropes – and they are to be applauded. This is the first book in a trilogy. The second book, Draw Blood, is also available now. You’re very much starting the story with this book. There are many questions left unanswered. I expect great things from the second book as we’re fully into the action by the end of this book.
Pick up a copy of Blood Red here: http://amzn.to/1G4Bfc6
Book Cover Blurb:
Rachel is 19. She doesn’t know how to handle her new stepmother, let alone the end of the world. But after finding her stepmother dead, Rachel is suddenly racing against time—and terrifying, unnatural forces—to survive a gruesome apocalyptic event. Outside her door, the college town of Fort Collins, Colorado, is filled with corpses, and something unfathomable is happening to those bodies. And it’s only just begun. As Rachel struggles to comprehend her horrible new reality, she’ll need to find answers to questions she never thought she’d ask—all while desperately searching for her lost father, on whom she pins all her hopes for coming out of this phenomenon alive and intact. But nothing will be as it seems.
Tom Piccirilli says “Blood Red gets seriously under your skin. It’s a whole new kind of horror novel.” Grant Jerkins says it’s “unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It starts as a slow-burn freak-out and culminates in a series of horror-show set pieces that will forever be etched in my mind.” Alden Bell calls Blood Red “an epic addition to the genre. Ranging from the gritty to the surreal, the story delivers a nonstop, real-time experience of the End Times—replete with visceral terror, buckets of gore, and, ultimately, a redemptive humanity.” Robert Devereaux says the book is “guaranteed to creep you out!”
The beginning of an epic trilogy telling the real-time tale of an apocalyptic event, Blood Red is a nonstop thrill ride from the author of The Naked Dame and the publisher of Skull Full of Spurs and Santa Steps Out.