Author: Levi BlackSeries: No info
Released: July 26th 2016
Publisher: Tor Books
Length: 304 pages
Source: Publisher for review
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?
Like so many other horror fans, I grew up reading Lovecraft’s tales, especially The Call of Cthulhu. First published in a pulp magazine in 1926, the story signified a new direction in horror fiction that later developed into a whole new subgenre, nowadays known as Lovecraftian horror. It is the type of horror that completely disregards the value of ordinary human life and paints humans as insignificant and small compared to the extraordinary and unfathomable universe.
Red Right Hand is a textbook example of Lovecraftian horror, albeit with just enough idiosyncrasies to make it stand apart. While it could easily be mistaken for YA, it isn’t marketed as such and I’d be very hesitant to recommend it to younger teens. Levi Black is well versed in the mysteries of Lovecraft and he follows the rules of the genre to the letter. His prose is unapologetically gory and merciless to both the reader and the main character.
Black doesn’t put much stock into characterization, which is to be expected considering his inspirations. Charlie herself isn’t important, she is a pawn from the start, and that applies even more to her friend and love interest Daniel. Their motivation, if they even have it, is secondary, if not tertiary. The whole point of this school of thought is that they don’t control their own destinies. That’s not to say that Charlie is a cardboard cutout. We get enough of her to empathize with her predicament, but she just isn’t the true protagonist of this story. A past sexual assault is heavily implied, if not explicitly stated, and it is used as a reason for her distrustful and solitary way of life.
Stylistically, Black’s prose is rather impressive. Lovecraft’s influence is evident in every small description, but the author’s talent itself is also quite obvious. His wordy descriptions of creatures, blood and gore are sickening, and his similes and metaphors unusual and evocative. The descriptions tend to be verbose and designed specifically for their shock value. If you have a problem with blood and slime, this might not be the best choice for you.
Overall, Red Right Hand is a wonderfully bizarre tale about an anti-heroine, a diabolical god and the lesser of many evils. It ends with a cliffhanger of sorts, or rather an open ending, which means that a sequel should be forthcoming. Then again, the lack of conclusive answers is in the very nature of Lovecraftian prose, so perhaps this is all we’re going to get. Either way, it’s a book worth reading.