A captivating story set in modern times about a young man afflicted with an ancient curse and the young woman with strange powers that help him. The events unfold with all the magic and drama of J.R.R. Tolkien's, "Lord of the Rings."Before launching into the review I want to add a quick note for publishers and writers. Please don't compare your book to The Lord of the Rings or any other major work in the genre you are writing in. Not only does it put a lot of expectation on your book but if it were true the reader might as well have read the original rather than your book. In the case of The Red Mark, for example, the comparison to The Lord of the Rings, I feel, rest solely on the fact that they share their genre. For the rest, the two worlds couldn't be further apart. Not that this is a bad thing. The Lord of the Rings isn't for everyone, not even for everyone who has read the books.
Now, back to The Red Mark. I really enjoyed this story for a number of reasons. First being that, for its plot, it isn't too long. Too often fantasy and paranormal books tend to be very long because the author either spends a lot of time world building or because there is a romance which needs to be pushed down the reader's throat. If the story is in need of a new world, the author should by all means create it, but if it isn't necessary then endless descriptions can take away from the story. Similarly, if a love story isn't conductive to the narrative, why include it and why make it a key feature of your story? Wilson and Thompson excel in not doing either of those two things too much. They leave just enough of the setting blurred to allow the reader to use his imagination without leaving him dangling with no information. Simultaneously, the relationship between the two main characters isn't forced to take centre stage and is left relatively ambiguous as to how it develops. By doing so, Wilson and Thompson give the reader a story quite different from most out there. Although I'd love to know more, I sort of hope this book is a stand alone. There's something to be said to leaving a reader with a world to imagine for themselves.
Secondly, I really enjoyed the two main characters. Enid has powers, I'm not going to spoil them for you, and she is quiet. But she is not so in the typical Bella Swan/Twilight way. She simply goes her own way comfortably and, despite being different, has no problem voicing her opinion and taking charge. She was a fresh of breath air and I really enjoyed the chapters written from her point of view. Similarly, Jayson is both a typical teenage boy and at the same time not stereotypical. He worries about what Enid thinks about him as a man but similarly he's also quite happy to let her take charge. He is a surprisingly considerate character and I think a lot closer to actual teenage boys that most we find in a lot of contemporary fiction. There are also some surprise side-characters which I absolutely adored but refuse to tell you about because spoilers.
Finally, I really enjoyed the way the authors progressed the story. I think this story is a really good example of how well having different characters narrate can work. The chapters provided more insight into the characters and how they see each other. In a fantasy story it also helps the reader understand the gravity of certain situations and it allows for characters to be well fleshed out. A point I made above is that the story doesn't last for too long. By that I meant that the days aren't stretched endlessly or that the whole plot is packed into two days. Time is allowed to pass without it hindering the progression of the plot. When they agree to meet tomorrow, then tomorrow is actually coming in the next few pages, not half-way through the book!
Overall I give this story...
Because it is only a short story I can't quite rate it on the same scale as a full-sized novel, therefore the 3 Universe rating. I thoroughly enjoyed The Red Mark though and definitely recommend it to Fantasy and Paranormal fans who are looking for a read that is different from the bunch. With highly enjoyable characters and a fun plot, it makes for a great afternoon.