Red Right Hand by Levi Black
Red Right Hand is a book based in a world full of monsters. A dark and frightening place that takes inspiration from the work of Lovecraft. I must say that I didn’t love this book and this puzzles me to an extent. Perhaps the fact that I haven’t read any Lovecraft didn’t help but for me it was a strange combination of brutal truths and flashbacks combined with gruesome horror. I certainly wouldn’t try to dissuade anyone from reading as I’m sure Lovecraft fans will find a wealth of imagination here to capture their attention.
The pacing is good. We get off to an immediate start as we’re introduced to Charlie Tristan Moore as she returns home from a disastrous night out with her boyfriend to be confronted by three skinhounds (which are every bit as bad as they sound and seem to have designs on Charlie). Charlie is rescued by an unlikely Man in Black (MiB), a strange character, foreboding, not totally trustworthy, with a ruined red right hand and a leather coat that seems to have a mind of it’s own. I wouldn’t say that the MiB has any redeeming characters, in fact it feels a little like going from the frying pan into the fire as Charlie is forced into becoming this stranger’s acolyte and releasing and embracing some strange latent magic from within herself in order to help him locate two elder gods – who he assures her are trying to destroy the world and need to be stopped. As an added incentive to Charlie the MiB decides to also take her boyfriend along for the ride.
This unlikely threesome (or four if you include the coat) set off on a night’s adventure. One night is all they have and in order to find these Gods they will first have to make the acquaintance of a very unsavoury character who will be able to help Charlie to find the right direction.
Charlie is a character with a harrowing background. She has suffered a traumatic experience and now tries to protect herself from the world by taking all and every sort of self defence class imaginable and projecting a tough outer image. If this is something that you will find difficult to read about then be warned of this now – I wouldn’t say that any of the flashbacks that Charlie experiences are gratuitous but they’re still disturbing. I think for me I was a little puzzled by this aspect of the story and it jarred me slightly. We had the full on night of horror where our characters visit the downright weird and wonderful and encounter monsters that are described to perfection in all their grossness but then we have these flashbacks in which we gradually piece together Charlie’s story and put together the pieces of the most terrible night she ever experienced. I guess the reason for this is to show you that Charlie is a survivor and she certainly needs to be in order to survive the night intact. But, like I said I think I would have preferred the focus to remain on the bizarrely horrific rather than trying to combine the two.
Without a doubt this is a fast paced read. It sets off with a no holds barred opening scene that pretty much defines how the rest of the novel will go. The writing is strong and the descriptions are, frankly, brilliant – the writing here will leave you in no doubt as to what these creatures look like and so if you’re a bit squeamish or easily scared – or you just don’t want more food for your nightmares – then steer clear because this author knows how to conjure up monsters and they are nasty without doubt.
I can certainly see the strengths of this book. For me I thought the two aspects didn’t sit particularly well together, I would have preferred to stick to the horror. I also had a difficult time forming any attachment to any of the characters. But, all that being said, I imagine that horror fans will love this and whilst it wasn’t totally for me I have no doubt that this will hold a lot of appeal for others.
I received a copy courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.