The Red Death – Birgitte Märgen
Reviewed by Steve Stred
In 1995, when I was 14, I went to the theatre and watched a movie called ‘Outbreak’ starring Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo and a stellar supporting cast.
I knew it was an epidemic type movie, but that was it.
I don’t think I’ve ever left a theatre more frightened in my life. This was real-life horror, something that was tangible and could happen at any time.
Since then, one of my biggest fears has always been a plague outbreak. We’ve become such an international society and in my day job, it’s not uncommon for me to see someone who has been overseas in the last few days.
The Red Death by Margen is a plague based thriller. It delivers in spades and I’m so glad to have read it.
It opens up slowly. We get a few ‘random deaths.’ People how don’t appear to be interconnected in the least. As things unravel, we are introduced to a CDC worker who begins to realize that they are dealing with the starting of an outbreak, as well as a researcher and an anthropologist who have worked on this specific strain before, back when they were friends.
The story then splits apart – focusing on our CDC worker trying to connect the dots and the researcher and anthropologist heading to the Amazon to find the antidote.
This story moves along quickly and the research Margen must have put into this thing is spectacular. I really loved how it began to spread in its scope and unveil more and more.
The ending felt a bit rushed, but with this type of story, it still worked.
I would have given this thing a full five stars if it wasn’t for two small bits. The first was an unexpected homophobic bent that the anthropologist had. It caught me off guard and made me lose a bit on connection with the character’s plight.
The second was the marginalization of the female scientist who went to the Amazon with the other two men. She was always in need of help and for someone who apparently volunteered to go hacking through the Amazon rain forest, I didn’t understand why she arrived wearing a dress.
Her story arc ending felt like a cop-out, which just didn’t ring true for me.
Other than that – this was a really well done, plague thriller, one that hit on almost every note.
The Red Death
AN ANCIENT DISEASE re-emerges in the heart of New York City–a deadly bacteria that gave rise to the Black Death. Maggie De Luca, an epidemiologist who is fighting her own demons, works to uncover clues to contain the disease, but is always one step behind–her fate determined by the flip of a coin. Microbiologist Michael Harbinger believes he can make a vaccine that can stop the disease, but to do so would require an elusive plant that only grows in a remote region of the Amazon.
With the help of J.D. Stallings, a paleoanthropologist, and Samantha Boutroux, a bacteriologist, they set out to find the plant that holds the key before the Red Death pandemic grips the world–or has the First Horseman of the Apocalypse, Plague, already opened the gates to our final annihilation?
The mother of all plagues is back . . .
Let the death toll begin . . .
“RING AROUND THE ROSIE,
POCKETS FULL OF POSIES,
ASHES . . . ASHES . . .
WE ALL FALL DOWN.”
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak horror fiction.
Steve is the author of the novels Invisible & The Stranger, the novellas The Girl Who Hid in the Trees, Wagon Buddy, Yuri and Jane: the 816 Chronicles and two collections of short stories; Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery and Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick, and the dark poetry collection Dim the Sun.
On September 1st, 2019 his second collection of dark poetry and drabbles called The Night Crawls In will arrive. This release was specifically created to help fund the 1st Annual LOHF Writers Grant.
Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official website here