Love is Red

May 20, 2015 Fantasy, Fiction, Thriller 11 ★★★★

Love is RedTitle: Love Is Red
Author: Sophie Jaff
Source: TLC Book Tours
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

Summary: This was a book that really shouldn’t have worked for me, but I loved the writing and I can’t get the story out of my head.

After centuries of dormancy, the Sickle Man has been awakened. His sole purpose is to hunt down Katherine Emerson, a woman with a dark destiny, but first he must gather the emotions of other victims. As his brutal crimes terrorize the women of Manhattan, Katherine must decide how much she trusts the two new men in her life. Although one is dark and brooding (of course!) and one is kind and handsome, it’s not clear what they are each hiding from her.

I hate love triangles and I’m not excited about violent thrillers, but the magical aspect of this story drew me in. It seemed like a dark version of magical realism, with fantasy elements all mixed up with a thriller set in an otherwise realistic world. When the first chapter was a sexually and violently explicit scene from the sadistic killer’s perspective, I was a bit disappointed. In particular, I was hoping the killer’s motivation would be less simplistic than just being a sadist. I’m glad I didn’t give up there though because I really enjoyed this book overall. The rest of the book had very few explicit descriptions of violence, although there was a steamy sex scene. And the love triangle was alright because I was reasonably happy with how the main character handled it. While I’m not a fan of books that portray women as being interested in arrogant men, the guy in this book didn’t seem controlling and certainly wasn’t abusive, so he didn’t bother me much either.

With all the things I was worried about turning out to be non-issues, I was able to focus on the things I loved about this book. The writing was beautiful, especially the descriptions of emotions as colors. I liked that the author often listed items in a way that felt like poetry, although this technique was perhaps a little overused. The story itself pulled me in and wouldn’t let me go. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next and desperately wanted to learn more about the mythology of the world. I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of snippets of a fairy tale throughout the book.

Most of this book was a four star read for me – I really liked it. An ending that wrapped up the world building that had happened so far, so that I felt I understood what was going on, could easily have made this a five star read for me. Unfortunately, the ending was very rushed, not only providing little explanation of the previous world building, but dumping a lot of new mythology into the story in a very confused way. For that reason, I was tempted to only give this three stars, but I find that I can’t. Something about the emotional experience of reading this book was just too good. I can’t stop thinking about this story and I think I’ll feel compelled to read the sequel. I just hope the author will finish off the world building in a more satisfying way!

Have you ever loved a book that you feel like you shouldn’t? One that includes some pet peeves of yours or which was objectively less good than your experience reading it?

11 Responses to “Love is Red”

    • DoingDewey

      Although the things I expected to bother me turned out not to, there were things that should have bothered me but didn’t, especially the lack of clear world building. I think the beautiful writing was a big part of that and the suspense, but there’s also an intangible something that made me love this more than I objectively think I should. I’ve no idea if it would be an equally good read for you, but if you read it, I’d be very interested to hear what you think 🙂

  1. Melinda

    To answer your question, yes I have read and liked books that included some pet peeve of mine. For example obsessive love – a woman who can’t seem to imagine her life being complete without a man. Elements such as that really does irritate me in a book, but sometimes I choose to read ahead when the rest of the storyline is interesting.

    Having said that, this book does sound interesting and like a good read. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it as you have.

    • DoingDewey

      That makes sense! I think for me some strong elements can also balance out a pet peeve. They definitely make it harder for me to like a book though.

      I hope you do end up enjoying this one and given my uncertainty about what exactly made me love it so much, I’ll be particularly interested to hear what you think of this one 🙂

  2. Jennine G.

    What made you pick it up even though it didn’t seem to have elements you’re interested in?

    • DoingDewey

      Well, like I said, the idea of fantasy plus thriller really appealed to me. I love magical realism and this seemed like a similar mix of magic and reality. I was nearly scared off by the first chapter, because I was expecting something a little more YA, a lot less gritty and violent than the first scene, with a bad guy more motivated by magic than just liking to hurt people. So, I guess the fantasy element intrigued me enough to risk the love triangle and I expected it to mitigate the thriller element, which it did except for that first chapter. After reading the first chapter though, I was especially surprised when I connected with the book so strongly!

  3. Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy

    I tried to read this, but decided to give up after 100 pages. Unfortunately it wasn’t for me, but your review points out so many interesting things that I wish I could finish it! I’m glad you enjoyed it ultimately – it does seem like such a unique style of book!

    • DoingDewey

      I’m not sure I can encourage you to finish it when I feel like the main reason I enjoyed this is because I had a strangely strong emotional connection to the story. It was good, but by all rights, the lack of world building should have frustrated me enough to seriously dampen my enthusiasm and it just didn’t. This is may be the only time my subjective and objective impressions of a book have been so different!

    • DoingDewey

      Neither the things I liked about it nor the things I didn’t like about it were quite what I expected. Overall, I ended up really enjoying it 🙂

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