Friday, March 30, 2012

Book Review: Paint This Town Red

There is something strikingly beautiful and majestic about predator animals. I'm not sure if it's their poise, their intense, often oddly colored eyes, or their uncanny ability to remain absolutely still and silent until it's too late and a helpless baby gazelle becomes lunch.

Poor gazelle. :(

My point is that they're pretty amazing. At least on TV... in nature shows. Getting chummy with an animal that has the ability to rip you apart with one crack of its powerful jaws, or squeeze the life out of you in seconds is not so awesome.

Just like Jaws, A.J. Kirby's Paint This Town Red will make you rethink whether or not it's "safe to go back into the water"... er, woods. This suspense thriller really plays up the "rabid/crazy/evil animal as the bad guy" angle and does it well.


Limm Island has always been an island unto itself. Quite literally. Every evening just before high tide, the residents of Limm race to get to their homes. It becomes apparent that anything is better than the alternative - being stranded when the tide comes in.

Outsiders on the "mainland" think there's something not quite right about Limm's inhabitants. So when Yogurt "Ely" Rhodes first calls police on the mainland about a body he finds while biking that looks like it has been ripped apart by an animal, they only question his sanity.

Things only begin to get weirder from there. No one can explain the bodies found mauled to death. Different people in town begin seeing a strange black panther roaming the woods near the town. But where did this creature come from and what does its presence mean?

Even stranger, why are some of Limm's residents going down to the water but not coming back? A mysterious old man named Solomon may have the answer. 

The panther is just the beginning of their worries as the residents of Limm Island fight to stay alive.


I am in love with this cover! There's a dark foreboding to it that really sets the tone for the story.  The cover art is amazing. Great summary, interesting premise. The blood thirsty creatures come complete with small town superstitions and prophecies. Everything is set up for this novel to be a page turner.

Kirby has a very unique style of writing that allows the reader to really connect with his characters. He leaves nothing out as he explores their backstory and their lives on the small island of Limm. The words almost create a type of cinematic imagery and the dialogue is very natural and conversational. The characters feel like real people with real problems, trying to get by until the unthinkable happens and the end begins; and the "end" is nothing like any of the island's inhabitants imagined. It's Kirby's portrayal of his characters that makes me think that this apocalyptic novel would play out just as well as a screenplay.

This is not your typical supernatural horror and I was a little curious to see how it would all pan out by the end.  Sometimes horror novels and movies involving animals don't work so well, but there was enough explanation and focus on the characters to not only make this novel work but make it believable.

I just wish that maybe it was broken up into two books or maybe even a book on each character. It seemed to take a while for the characters to discover why the events unfolded the way they did. To be fair, the novel is nearly 50 chapters so it makes sense that it wouldn't be until about halfway though the novel before they start piecing together what is going on.

There were quite a number of characters, and I had to really pay attention since most chapters would vary from character to character. This made the novel interesting to read, and each character played an important part in the plot, but it was also a little hard to remember what had happened previously by the time you got back to a character.

However, none of this deterred me from reading the book and becoming engrossed in the story.

If you love any horror novels (and movies) involving rabid, possibly evil, man-eating animals (Cujo, Jaws, Jurassic Park, et. al.) give this novel a read. You'll be glad you did.


Look for Paint This Town Red and other novels by A.J. Kirby on Amazon! And check out my interview with A.J. Kirby here!


  1. Hi Megan

    Thank you so much for your wonderful, insightful review. I really appreciate it. I know what you mean about two books... It was a tough decision that one.

    All the best,


    1. Thank you for letting me review your novel! It was a great read! I am looking forward to reading more of your work!

  2. The cover is really ominous, sounds like a great book.

    1. I know! I love the cover. It was a great read. You should really check it out if you have a chance.



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