Review: Red Right Hand by Levi Black
Published by Tor Books on July 26th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Dark Fantasy, Horror
Charlie Tristan Moore isn't a hero. She's a survivor. On a night when her demons from the past are triggered, she arrives home to something even more harrowing-an attack by three monstrous skinhounds, creatures straight out of nightmares. She fights but is outmatched. Just as hope seems lost, in sweeps The Man In Black, a rescuer even more monstrous and unlikely, dressed in a long, dark coat that seems to have a life of its own and with a black-bladed sword held in his terrible, red right hand.
Her rescue comes at a cost. She must become his new Acolyte and embrace a dark magick she never knew she had inside her. To ensure she gives it her all, he takes her friend and possible love, Daniel, in thrall as a hostage to her obedience. The Man in Black, a Lovecraftian chaos god, claims to be battling his brethren gods, other horrors who are staging an incipient apocalypse. But is he truly the lesser of all evils or merely killing off the competition? Either way, will Charlie be strong enough to save herself, Daniel, and possibly the entire world?
Red Right Hand started out strong for me, letting me hope it would live up to my expectations. However, I am going to start this review with a disclaimer that I decided this was not quite my type of book, and while I had high hopes for it, I think that was because I did not have a clear picture of what the book would be like. And some of that is my fault.
Charlie, our protagonist comes home to be attacked by some sort of evil/hellish hounds. A mysterious Man in Black comes to her rescue and sets her life on quite a different course. The Man in Black may have saved her, but as Charlie learns more about him, she becomes uncomfortable. She stays with him more because she can’t think of an alternative or a wait out.
So, some of the things that did not work for me are probably likely to the Lovecraftian element that was clearly a trait of the book. This is something many people love, but I am not one of them. Also, since I have read very little Lovecraft, I know I missed references and connections to his work. I prefer my horror to be more psychological suspense and tension, I love the emotional ride you go through when things feel more plausible. Pretty much, for me, I am all about the emotional attachment and reaction to a main character when I read horror. Disturbing situations that feel like they could be a bit too close to reality are things that can go over quite well with me. When a book leans more towards the “weird” (I know, that’s a somewhat nebulous term), I find I lose some of my connection to the people and world. Once I lose that, the book will have a much harder time pleasing me. This book fell firmly into that category.
But while many of my issues stemmed from just not being prepared for the weirdness factor in this, at least one of my issues was independent of that. Our protagonist has had something traumatic happen in her past. This is brought up often, referring to pain or struggles she is having because of it. Referring to how she is trying to power on despite her having been a victim of something horrific. You do get some ideas of what kind of trauma she endured, but it is dangled there quite often for the reader without any clear details. Something bad happened. And since I seemed to be missing some connection to the main character, I hate to say, I got a bit tired of it being drawn out and wished they would either just say what it was, or omit it all together because the “mystery” really did absolutely nothing for me at all other than detract from the story. I found myself not caring and I absolutely hate that. When I read, I want to care. I want to really care, and feel the character’s emotions, and I just found I was not capable of that in this case.
So, unfortunately I have to admit that overall this book did not live up to my expectations, nor was it the book i hoped it was. But, that said, there may be an audience for it. I am not a fan of Lovecraftian horror, this is why I think perhaps my response is somewhat my fault as I picked this book up anyway and did not go in with the caution I should have and I hope people that do enjoy it keep that in mind when they read my review. I never want to turn people off of books that they may actually enjoy despite my experience with them.