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Book Review

Book Cover

Paint This Town Red


Author: AJ Kirby
Wild Wolf Publishing
RRP: £10.99, US $16.99
ISBN: 978 1 907954 22 1
Available 29 February 2012

Sometimes, when you read a novel you want something meaty and thought provoking, at other times you want a page turning blockbuster to while away those long summer days, even though we are still waiting for that to happen.

Paint this Town Red (442 Pages) by AJ Kirby, is a no nonsense creature feature, of the type which was particularly popular a couple of decades ago.

The story takes place on the tidal island of Limm, which has a single causeway which connects it with the mainland, handy for getting the islanders cut off from the rest of humanity. Within this space a large panther creature is brought forth. The book alludes to the unnatural birth, into our world, of the large panther-like creature via a floating golden ball, without giving enough detail as to whether this represented an alien incursion, an escapee from hell, or just a displaced natural animal. To be honest its origins are relatively immaterial, as the main point of the book is to set up the island's inhabitants to be turned into panther chow.

What makes this book a superior example of the genre is that Kirby spends a great deal of time setting up his victims lives, in great detail. People don’t really start dying for the first two hundred pages. So, why wait so long? The answer is that given time spent with the human protagonists allows the reader to empathise with the individual characters so, that when they do start dying you really care about their fate. Apart from setting up his fictional world, Kirby also allows us to see through the eyes of the creature. Eventually the confusing genesis of the creature is logically explained.

There are some great elements to the book. The insular nature of the islanders means that they see themselves as stronger than those who live on the mainland; however their supposed centre of strength also means that they do not look to outsiders for help which just increases their chances of dying. Ironically, their greatest strength becomes their deadly weakness.

Having spent half the book setting up the premise and characters, Kirby lets loose in the second half with a non-stop power drive of animal horror, which holds its own against the writings of James Herbert and Stephen King.

AJ Kirby is a talented writer, who knows the strength of making his reader wait and learn before unleashing the hounds of hell.


Charles Packer

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