Book Review: The Red Church by Scott Nicholson

Scott Nicholson’s The Red Church builds its foundation on southern ghost stories. Shadowed by the ancient Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, a church was constructed in the late 19th century. Unfortunately for the Reverend Wendell McFall, whose fanatical ravings of God’s Second Son required the sacrifice of a child, the red church required his own sacrifice as well. Hung out on tree framing the front door of the church, Reverend Wendell McFall became a Halloween legend. A ghost story passed from generation to generation as the red church stands as foreboding as ever.

Present day, Ronnie Day and his little brother Timmy ‘s lives are about to get even more upside now. As his parents are no longer living in the same house and constantly arguing over righteousness and the one true way to God’s path – it doesn’t seem that important until Ronnie trips over a half ripped apart body on the way home from school in the cemetery of the red church. Suddenly Mom wants the boys to attend a new midnight service at the red church, the sermon led by her returned savior and great grandson of Wendell McFall, the one and only Archer McFall. As Archer McFall returns from his work establishing a Temple of the Two Suns in California and claiming he is saving grace from God's mistakes, the bodies start piling up around Ronnie.

Slow to start, The Red Church is a little difficult to get into initially. Opening with the young boys, it isn’t immediately easy to connect with their youthful sibling bickering. However, as the book continues, the boys become the more interesting of all the characters. The religiousness rooted in southern heritage that Nicholson uses to motivate his characters is unsettling and campy but ultimately plays itself out as cautionary folklore rather than terrifying and cultish. An easy read The Red Church is relatively worth the few hours it would take to consume. Approach with a light expectation and it’s enjoyable.

2.5 out of 5


Associate Editor/Horror Literature/Podcast Guest

CC is the High Priestess of BGH. She's into creeping around in the shadows and loves animals, but especially baby bats and puppies.