There are gates that connect our world to another. This other world is the stuff of nightmares. It is, quite simply, Hell. There are those in our world whose job it is to close the gates whenever they appear, no matter the collateral damage. One of these gate closers is John, and he has always been effectively brutal at saving our world from those who would enter it via the gates. A year ago, John’s brother, Luke was unwittingly involved in rebuilding a carousel, a gate that the devil himself would use to enter our world. With help from his brother’s girlfriend, Emma, John and Luke managed to destroy the gate.

Now, a year later, Luke has been kidnapped and sent through a gate with the intention of forcing him to open up an even larger breach between our world and the other one. It’s up to John and Emma to rescue Luke, and they will have to travel all the way to the depths of Hell to retrieve him. It is this journey into Hell that makes, The Only Red Is Blood, the sequel to the authors earlier novel, Carousel, one of the most enjoyable horror novels I’ve read in a very long time.

The Only Red Is Blood’s narrative is essentially split into two distinct sections. The first section primarily deals with the aftermath of Carousel and reintroduces us to the previous characters.  This section also brings on board a slew of new characters and provides the back story for the inevitable journey to hell. I enjoyed this portion of the novel but I admit that occasionally zoned out when the characters got to talking too much or scene descriptions went on a little too long. It’s the second section that brings this book to life.  Quite honestly, it kicked ass!

In the second section, Holden’s plotting takes bizarre turns to the fantastic. The results are breathtaking, hallucinogenic, and pulse pounding. The narrative in The Only Red Is Blood becomes a cornucopia of visual anomalies. The scenes become as visceral and gut wrenching as any of Clive Barker’s earlier fantasy novels and the action is just as blood drenched.

For those horror fans that miss those epic Clive Barker novels like Weaveworld, The Imajica, and The Great and Secret Show, I can’t recommend The Only Red Is Blood enough. The author, Janet Joyce Holden is the real deal and I’m hoping we see a whole lot more from her.

The Only Red Is Blood by Janet Holden is available in print from Omnium Gatherum and from Necon E-Books in E-book.

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