REVIEW: Red by Jack Ketchum


Synopsis from

“The old man hears them before he sees them, the three boys coming over the hill, disturbing the peace by the river where he’s fishing. He smells gun oil too, too much oil on a brand-new shotgun. These aren’t hunters, they’re rich kids who don’t care about the river and the fish and the old man.

Or his dog. Red is the name of the old man’s dog, his best friend in the world. And when the boys shoot the dog — for nothing, for simple spite — he sees red, like a mist before his eyes. And before the whole thing is done there’ll be more red. Red for blood…”


How often do you see a revenge story focused on a dog? Never. That is why this book caught my attention during one bored evening of GoodReads browsing. I am sure there are plenty of stories like this in the contemporary section but a book with this sort of story marked as horror and thriller is a bit different. Safe to say, it caught my attention.

When I first read the blurb of this book it made it sound like it was a gory revenge story, like Old Man Logan meets Old Yeller. The focus on the colour red and the old man’s anger in the summery made it sound extremely violent. Did I get that? Yes and no.

The book was violent, yes, but was it the old man’s doing? Not so much. This is one of those horror novels where people are the monsters. It is one old man’s struggle to get justice for his dog but everything stands in his way. It isn’t until everything fails and things take a turn for the violent and horrible that it becomes what the summary promised.

As someone who reviews horror and thriller novels I see a lot of supernatural things in stories but I will always hold a soft spot for those novels where people are the monsters. Humanity and its corruption are the problem, not a ghost or other other supernatural force. Human based horror might not have the creep factor the likes of IT or The Ring have but it is scary in its own way. Events in human based horror can actually happen and THAT is what makes them scary. People are corrupt, people kill other people, people shoot dogs for so reason other an their own entertainment. It works.

I have never read a Jack Ketchum novel before this but thanks to Red I will be looking into more of his novels.


Strong language. Implied sex scenes. Mild gore. Animal cruelty.


I gave this book 4 0ut of 5 stars on It is a short and sweet read. It might not be the most scary, detailed or gory book in the world but if you are an animal lover you will find yourself rooting for the main character and hating the villains. Also if horror isn’t generally your cup of tea this might be a book for you. It isn’t overly horrific, has its sweet moments and focuses strongly on character struggles.

As always feel free to follow me on GoodReads and if you have read Red tell me your thoughts on it or just suggest your favourite horror or thriller novel, the bigger my to-read pile the better.


3 comments on “REVIEW: Red by Jack Ketchum

  1. […] I was expecting this book to be more violent than it actually was, which is saying something since some parts are really violent, but I wasn’t disappointed. It actually made the situation a lot more realistic and you end up feeling for the main character a lot.  If you are an animal lover I think this would be a thriller for you. It takes you through the ups and downs of an old man trying to get justice for his only friend.  It also isn’t a very long novel so you could get through it in a day or two. To read my full review click here.  […]

  2. […] recently read and reviewed Red by Jack Ketchum so I have been wanting to take a look at more of his work. Girl Next Door is a novel that I keep […]

  3. […] can read my review of Red here and my review of The Girl Next Door […]

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