Publisher: Titan Books
Release date: 18th June / Page Count 304
It’s not safe for anyone alone in the woods. There are predators that come out at night: critters and coyotes, snakes and wolves. But the woman in the red jacket has no choice. Not since the Crisis came, decimated the population, and sent those who survived fleeing into quarantine camps that serve as breeding grounds for death, destruction, and disease. She is just a woman trying not to get killed in a world that doesn’t look anything like the one she grew up in, the one that was perfectly sane and normal and boring until three months ago.
There are worse threats in the woods than the things that stalk their prey at night. Sometimes, there are men. Men with dark desires, weak wills, and evil intents. Men in uniform with classified information, deadly secrets, and unforgiving orders. And sometimes, just sometimes, there’s something worse than all of the horrible people and vicious beasts combined.
Red doesn’t like to think of herself as a killer, but she isn’t about to let herself get eaten up just because she is a woman alone in the woods…
Our protagonist Red is a 20 year old, mixed race, bisexual girl with a prosthetic leg and the best thing about this wonderfully diverse inclusion is how naturally she was written- at no point did I feel like Henry was thrusting diversity in my face for the sake of it.
Red emphasizes her capabilities despite the loss of her leg whenever possible, fighting back against the assumptions of her family and anyone she meets, whilst privately being realistic in her limitations.
Sexism, racism and ableism feature throughout Red’s journey and she handles each with strength and intelligence. I found her to be an authentic and believable character.
The relationships between Red, her brother Adam and their parents mirrored that of an average family. Henry created an emotional subplot without romanticising their history. The bickering, disagreements and compromise reflected the life of a loving family without the simple picture-perfect we are often fed for an easy tug on the heartstrings.
Henry writes about Red’s thought process using horror movies as a comparison on how to survive in a post apocalyptic environment. I really enjoyed this because in a survival situation most of us would be heavily reliant on television, books and movies- it’s not like the average person is taught how to prepare for these scenarios!
Red has a mental list of rules to live by, observations we’ve all learned from such entertainment- Stay together, never put your weapon down, avoid populated areas. The obvious things we watch horror movie heroines ignore time and time again. It was refreshing to finally see a character think logically!
Told in third person via both past and present tense, The Girl In Red leads us on Red’s treacherous journey to sanctuary at her Grandmother’s house and tells of the events leading to her solitude.
Henry conjures up such a consistent unsettling atmosphere that I could almost physically feel Red’s tingling of paranoia and her ache of fatigue from the incessant need for caution.
There is a big surprise in the plot. My notice from Titan Books did mention The Girl In Red was a crossover and being an avid Christina Henry fan I probably should have guessed it… but I didn’t, and I’m not going to spoil it for you either!
As always with Henry’s work I was completely drawn in, I read this action packed story in one sitting and highly recommend it to any fans of horror, SFF or retellings.
I’d categorise this as the older scale of YA fiction, there are allusions to rape and violence but no overtly graphic details.
Overall another 5 star knock-out for Christina Henry, if you’re already a fan then be sure not to miss The Girl In Red and for those who aren’t … what are you waiting for!