Red and Blood Red (Novellas)


bloodredWritten by Paul Kane

Introduction by Alison Littlewood

Published by Short, Scary Tales Publications

I’m writing this as someone who has only recently discovered Paul Kane’s work. I’d read his apocalyptic novel Sleepers a couple of years ago and thought it would make a great movie, and it made me want to read more by Mr. Kane. As a fellow student and proponent of Clive Barker’s workings, Paul Kane is recognised as a world authority and a personal friend of Clive’s. He’s also an expert on Monsters, which is the title of the recently published collection of stories I’m currently enjoying, as well as various topics relating to Clive Barker’s Hellraiser.

Next year, Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell, a meeting between Hellraiser‘s Cenobites and Sherlock Holmes, will be released, and that’s something I’m looking forward to… a hell of a lot.

I’d also previously read some of Paul’s short stories, one of which he graciously offered (along with a rather humorous illustration of the “Breed”) for inclusion in The Book of the Tribes. This is a collaborative anthology I published in 2013 to raise funds for the screening of the “Cabal Cut” of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed in Australia, which I also organised. It was the only screening in the entire Southern Hemisphere.

So, upon receiving “Blood Red,” I was delighted to discover that Paul’s “Red” is included with it so that’s a bonus for people like me who hadn’t bought “Red” when it first bared its fangs in 2008. If you’ve already read “Red,” you”ll probably know a lot more than I do as I open the door and follow the breadcrumbs of this modern-day fairy tale. There are no breadcrumbs in this tale, however; that’s for another story which I personally hope Mr. Kane will revisit and bring his contemporary worldview to on that theme.

So, here are some spoilers… book by book, one stepping stone at a time. If you’re a person who tries to avoid spoilers, let me tell you now: There’s no escaping them here, for the whole book is full of spoilers – and very bloody ones they are too, and this review makes no apologies for providing you with a few hints of things to come.

“Red” (2008)
“Red” is the raw-meaty morsel of a novella written by Paul Kane and is included here with its sequel, “Blood Red” (2015). I didn’t read the preambles or the introduction and honorary quotes – I will savour these for my dessert!

Well, that prologue really caught me off guard, and I’m glad I didn’t read the spoilers… I’m not normally a huge fan of up-front jump-scares and gore; my personal preference is for a slow, tortuous burn, but this isn’t that (novellas seldom have that luxury). The dramatic opening scene, then, will doubtless appeal to readers who enjoyed the “Flash, Boom!” approach most recently deployed in the opening episode of “American Horror Story – Hotel.” It leaves you breathless from start to finish, fingers bloodied as you turn the pages for more gore and lust. And yes, there is a large helping of that; isn’t that what underlies most fairy tales, anyway? Lust, moral improprieties, fangs, the sharpening of the axe, the boiling of the pot; all metaphor for sin and its consequences.

Such a brutal and graphic beginning to my journey with “Red” snatched my breath and left me wanting more. It also served to yell at me, “Don”t be misled into thinking this is a fairy tale intended for children” – it clearly is not.

The main protagonist (if, like me, you see him that way) has a way with, and an appetite for, beautiful women… quite literally. His being is a hedonistic one as he repeatedly stalks new victims with which he can sate various appetites. I suspect there is a lot more to discover about this character who’s been forced to leave “the old country” for richer, easier or less risky pickings, and I will read it again because I feel there is much left unspoken, or perhaps it was missed by this reader as I ran headlong toward the woods! The other major character in “Red” is the beauty to the beast, the lamb to the slaughter. I won’t divulge more because it was over far too soon for me; always a sign of an enthralling read!

In summary, with “Red,” Paul Kane has provided a well-constructed and fast-paced visual and visceral tale, a contemporary re-telling of the “Red Riding Hood” fable; a tale which, it’s implied, is being played out for a second time – and perhaps by the same two characters!

“Red” would make a great pilot episode for TV, but I reached the end of its 80 pages far too quickly, so now to read the sequel…

“Blood Red” (2015)
I realise now that Paul Kane’s prologues are, like the flirting and seductive activities his characters are engaged in, merely a means to an end. He holds your head under water, allowing you to almost drown so that when your head is lifted again to begin Chapter One, you’re already gasping for air, the fight or flee effect has been triggered. It also challenges the normal reassurance when reading or watching horror that you at least know who is the protagonist, and who is the one we should run from. Again, not in this case…

In “Blood Red,” we continue the events and are re-acquainted with some of the surviving characters introduced in the original. We also meet several more, including the enigmatic “hunter,” along with a sort of “Sniffer” organisation, confirming to me that a future HBO-style TV series would be a natural progression from the written word. I can only hope, if that does happen, we see more of “Blood Red” than “True Blood” in the production and that its writer, Paul Kane, can keep a steady hand on the axe… erm, tiller. Whatever, you know what I mean.

“Blood Red” also provides us with an “origins” narrative, which is exactly what I was hoping for. Maybe it’s comforting for us to know where the beasts come from, so we know where or when we should look for them, or lest we fear they come from within ourselves and need to find early warning signs?

That said, I’m just off to check the mirror and investigate the palms of my hands.


  • "Red" Novella
  • "Blood Red" Novella
User Rating 3.71 (14 votes)


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