Something Red

During the thirteenth century, in northwest England, in one of the coldest winters in living memory, a formidable middle-aged Irishwoman and her little troupe are trying to drive their three wagons across the Pennines before the heavy snows set in. Molly, her powerful and enigmatic lover Jack, her fey granddaughter Nemain, and the young apprentice Hob soon find that something terrible prowls the woods through which they must make their way. As they travel from refuge to refuge, it becomes apparent that the evil must be faced, and it is then that Hob learns how much more there is to his adopted family than he had ever imagined.

Something Red has an elegant prose style, shapeshifters, Irish battle queens, young love, middle-aged love, Norman knights, wild cattle, sorcery both good and evil, a cameo appearance by the Templars, pilgrims, Saracens, a chess tournament, bandits, harpers, snowy mountain passes and forest twilight, a party of exiled Lithuanians, a sweet-tempered ox, warrior monks, strong—even dangerous—women, ten murderous mastiffs, a central mystery, and a snowstorm that an early reader described as “one of the coldest scenes since Snow Falling on Cedars.”



Kirkus Reviews pick: One of the 100 best fiction books of 2012!

Praise for Something Red

“A hauntingly affecting historical novel with a touch of magic.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


“Rich in historical detail, this suspenseful coming-of-age fantasy grabs the reader with the facts of life in medieval England and the magic spells woven into its landscape.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)


“This darkly atmospheric debut novel is well worth its measured plot-building for its horrific, unexpected ending.”
Library Journal (starred review)


“This first novel is a beauty. I love the writing, the vividness and poetic feel, maybe the sheer "Irishness" of it. Beautifully observed moments abound in this: a waterfall, a snow-filled forest, a mountainscape. The sense of place is overwhelming. Every stone, every flower pops out at you. Hob's relationships with the two Irishwomen are well drawn and Hob himself is a full-round person, engaging and appealing. The Irishwomen are extraordinary.”
—Cecelia Holland, New York Times bestselling author of The King’s Witch


​“Although Something Red is a handsome, graceful fable with compelling echoes of Beowulf, its strongest suit is not the fantastical, but the mundane. Without sacrificing pace, the author vividly presents Saxon food, Norman manners, the flora of Northern England, the primacy of weather and the complex relationship between medieval man and the beasts he depends on. With its smoky campfires, greased cart-axles and bees-waxed bowstrings, Something Red grounds us in the high middle ages so credibly that we are willing to believe in whatever monsters Douglas Nicholas asks us to.”               

—Christopher Buehlman, bestselling author of Those Across the River and Between Two Fires


“Not for the faint of heart, this pulse pounding page-turner grabs you from the start and never lets you go. A wickedly clever and evocative combination of history, horror, mystery, and magic.”


“A hauntingly beautiful masterpiece of historical fantasy fiction, which offers perfect escapism and entertainment.”

“I loved Something Red. Douglas Nicholas conjures up the distant thirteenth century with prose as magical as that practiced by his sorceress-queen. This is a stunning debut novel of lyrical power and suspenseful drama. The hair-raising finale will keep you reading far into the night.”
—Carol Goodman, national bestselling author of The Lake of Dead Languages


“This is a remarkable book, or actually several books in one. Straight up, there is the one that the book cover actually tells you about -- thirteenth century England, bitterly cold, and an unfocussed but pervasive scary thing out there that you are not quite sure what to make of. Then there is the poet writing prose (don't know how else to describe it) making you see the country-side, and the buildings, and the actions and interactions of people, all with a truly remarkable flow and texture -- hence my "poet" comment. Builds a world, fills it with physical and personal detail, and just draws you in. The characters are the opposite of cardboard; even the ones that don't matter much to the plot have some depth and complexity to them. And third there is another story, going on implicitly through and under the others, which you don't even realize was complete and totally satisfying in itself until you get into a final chapter that at first glance (if you were preoccupied with the first "book") doesn't really seem necessary, and just drags on a bit, until you get to the last few pages and it all gells in a way that is simply remarkable. The final page is -- exquisite. I had to circle back and read it a couple more times, and then I had to read the final chapter again. A totally pleasant experience; a writer at the top of the craft, playing with me constantly but never unfairly. Loved it.”

—Peter James McCormick

​“Nicholas goes for the throat with Something Red. Rich in history, ankle deep in blood, and packed with brilliant writing and whip-smart plotting.”
—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Flesh & Bone

“Douglas Nicholas can artfully narrate a story.  I was engaged from beginning to end.”
Agenda Magazine


“I was so enthralled with the tale, it was like leaving reality and stepping into a wondrous and mysterious time with so much magic in it. . . . You will not be disappointed.”
Great Minds Think Aloud

“Ably conjuring the beauties and drawbacks of the past, and with an engaging and unusual cast list, Something Red is a thoroughbred novel of nightmare terror, ruled by a force of sheer evil that seems, and may well prove, unstoppable. A Book of Shadows with a genuinely beating heart.”
—Tanith Lee, award-winning author of The Silver Metal Lover

“This is a beautifully written work, with evocative prose which captures the essence of traveling in winter in Middle Ages England.”
The Snarky Writer

“Written with great skill, this atmospheric, yet gritty, story will remain with you, and it is a wonderful addition to the long line of stories devoted to the magic of fairy tales.”
Book Hog


Something Red absolutely blew me away. This is one of the best debuts I’ve read in years and the story itself still haunts my dreams. It has all the best elements of Irish folklore, historical fiction, and a very frightening mystery at its core.”
Chaotic Compendiums

“The poetic nature of the language, the increasing of the novel’s atmospheric spook and the members of the traveling family made Something Red a winner.”
Minding Spot

“Douglas Nicholas has written a gut-wrenching, harrowing novel; however, he’s also written a touching, realistic story about what made a family, love, and life during a 13th century English winter. . . . Nicholas’s storytelling painted this novel with historic realism that made it pop right off the page. . . . If you like a non-stop thrilling roller coaster ride, hop on board!”
Popcorn Reads

“Nicholas’s beautiful prose, his detailed portrayal of life in medieval England, interesting characters, and underlying supernatural themes make this book a real gem. It’s without doubt one of my favorites of the year and I eagerly await the next entry in what I hope will be a series.”

“The most stunning debut novel I have ever read. The language is beautiful and descriptive; the novel is an incredible sensory experience for the reader.”

“Nicholas handles characterization, setting and atmosphere deftly and expertly . . . Something Red is an excellent debut from a gifted author.”
Shelf Awareness


“Memorable . . . legendary.”
Pate Books

“The language is exquisite, the erudition profound . . . a sublime, can’t-put-it-down read.”
Daily Freeman

“One of the biggest and best reading surprises I’ve had in a long time. . . . Nicholas is a master storyteller. . . . This is a rather quiet story that relies not on big action scenes, but on an irresistible mix of wonderful characters and carefully constructed moments that add up to an amazing reading experience. . . . I had goosebumps as I read the final page.”
Books, Bones, & Buffy


Other Books by Douglas Nicholas

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