The Red Room and Other Tales by Brazilian writer Bruno Carlos Santos sells itself as a “short horror story anthology”. This difficult horror sub-genre can either make or break a writer. Unfortunately, it’s 99% of the latter in Santos’ case. The anthology is a technical and narrative mess. Riddled with clichès, terrible editing, pointless adverbs and scene-munching cardboard characters, The Red Room and Other Tales reads like an amateurish attempt at “writing”.
Descriptions require thorough forethought. A writer has to establish his voice with metaphorical subtext and fresh, descriptive writing, unlike the following: “really pretty good”, “barren trees”, “acid sense of humour”. By the way, It should be “acidic”, not “acid”.
Santos also suffers from severe adverb diarrhoea – he sometimes uses three adverbs to describe a plain verb. Also, Santos makes use of the dreaded “Passive Voice” throughout the anthology, effectively ruining the reading process for eternity. It’s laborious, stunted and horrid.
And to be completely honest, I have no idea how Santos managed to get this book out. It’s one of the worst anthologies I have ever read, bar none. To make matters worse, Santos switches the POV (Point of View) randomly, without rhyme or reason.
I am unsure whether this anthology was written in Santos’ native Portuguese and then translated, poorly I might add, into English. Or am I grasping at straws? I can cope with a blundered narrative and crudely constructed characterisation. Hell, I can even survive amateurish editing! But I can’t handle horrendous horror clichès and über-verbose descriptions.
A final, sickening blow comes in the form of an H.G. Wells novel titled The Red Room and Other Stories.
What. The. Fudge.
Why didn’t he research the title first?
I wish I had constructive critique to offer Santos, but I came up short. His anthology requires an extreme makeover, rigorous editing and at least another five drafts before it can be considered literature. For now, though, The Red Room and Other Tales is a cautionary example of horror gone wrong.
Word of warning: never rush a book. Once it’s released, there’s no taking it back. And how I wish Santos could take this one back… Very far back. Forever.
RATING: 0.5 / 5
Reviewed by Renier Palland