Read by Bronson Pinchot
Length: 11 Hrs 16 Min
Quick Thoughts: Red, White and Blood is a thrill a minute supernatural horror tale that is only made scarier by the author’s ability to make it feel authentic. With fully realized characters, high tension scenarios and deeply rooted conspiracies, Farnsworth hasn’t just written an exciting book but has created a truly frightening world whose true horror comes from how much it resembles our own.
Very few things go together as well as politics and horror. Horror movies foster a sense of futility, characters trapped in situations they cannot escape, knowing no matter what they do the monster in the room will eventually destroy them. Horror character’s stupid mistakes and past indiscretions come back to haunt them. They think they are prepared, think they will stay true to themselves, protect those they are sworn to protect, yet when the reality of the situation presents itself, in full, they find that they may not be as strong as they believed themselves to be. Yes, horror characters and politicians have a lot in common. I used to be a political junkie, back in the days when CNN was the only 24-hour news station, and I didn’t have cable. My news came to me through reading newspapers and local broadcasts at 6 and11 PM. Yet, as I got older, and the sources of news grew, displaying all the inherent flaws of out political system, I began to hate what I was watching. So, instead I turned to horror movies. Yet, politics is still an old love, and every election season, I find the campaigning, mud smearing and machinations of the process slowly begin to revitalize that interest, despite the horror I feel at its actual execution. I can’t say I ever thought about just how horrific that process would be if added to the down and dirty political brawling was a battle between an ancient spirit, the patron saint of serial killers, and a vampire. This is why I’m a reviewer instead of a writer.
Red, White and Blood is the third entry in Christopher Farnsworth’s Nathan Cade aka The President’s Vampire series, and it’s easily my favorite. In some ways, Farnsworth series reminds me of a really well done Comic Book movie series. Each edition offers new characters and old vendettas but the true driving force is a new enemy who pushes our hero in new directions. Yet, unlike less well executed movie series, Nathaniel Cade’s new enemies are fresh and inventive, and completely break away from what we expect from our baddies in terms of actions and motivations. In Red, White and Blood, the new baddie is The Boogeyman, who is like your deepest childhood fears and hundreds of urban legends rolled up into one seemingly invincible package. To add to the tension, the conflict between The Boogeyman and Cade is set within the high stress situation of a struggling Presidential Campaign, with the ever-present Press hanging like Vultures, waiting for one fatal misstep in order to leap on the carcass. Farnsworth continues to develop his characters in interesting ways. It was great to see Cade, while not truly vulnerable or weak, but fallible. Also, by infusing more political elements in the story, we got to see more of a glimpse into the person who Zach was before his disgrace, and assignment to serve as Cades keeper. Farnsworth moved Zach in some interesting directions, highlighting who he was, using that as a contrast to truly show us what he is becoming. One of my favorite aspects of this series is the author’s creating of a secret history of the United States, using news articles, true crime, and writings to show the supernatural influences on the counties growth. Red, White and Blood is a thrill a minute supernatural horror tale that is only made scarier by the author’s ability to make it feel authentic. With fully realized characters, high tension scenarios and deeply rooted conspiracies, Farnsworth hasn’t just written an exciting book but has created a truly frightening world whose true horror comes from how much it resembles our own.
Listening to Bronson Pinchot’s narration of Red, White and Blood highlights how much choices by a narrator can affect the overall mood of a novel. Pinchot reads this novel with a slow, deliberate pace that increases the tension of the plot. Pinchot creates aurally what the best horror movies create with music and images, an atmospheric mood that keeps the listener on edge, never knowing what will be around corner. His characterization of Cade is perfect, using an economy of inflection in the same way Cade uses an economy of emotional display. When Cade does show fear or doubt, and you can hear the slight evidence of it in his tone, it becomes doubly effective because it is so unexpected. Bronson’s choices are always well reasoned and affective, and his performance in Red, White and Blood proves again that the right narrator can bring a novel to life in so many unexpected ways.
Note: A special thanks to Penguin Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.