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Red X

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  136 ratings  ·  51 reviews
A hunted community. A haunted author. A horror that spans centuries.

Men are disappearing from Toronto's gay village. They're the marginalized, the vulnerable. One by one, stalked and vanished, they leave behind small circles of baffled, frightened friends. Against the shifting backdrop of homophobia throughout the decades, from the HIV/AIDS crisis and riots against rai
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 31st 2021 by Strange Light
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Average rating 4.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  136 ratings  ·  51 reviews

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Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
4.5 Stars
This is a horror novel like no other.

It feels strange to rate and review a book as personal as this one. The author poured so much of his own self and history into the prose. Woven between the chapters, the author inserts commentary on his own experience that lead to writing the book, completely breaking the fourth wall. I honestly never completely knew where the line was between fact and fiction. The story was so intimate that it became a very emotional read. I can be a very cold hear
Sadie Hartmann
Aug 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cemetery-dance
Review originally published at Cemetery Dance:

I’m officially a fan of authors breaking the fourth wall within their novels in order to communicate directly to their readers in their own voice. I’m here for it. Red X is the second book I’ve read this year to use this literary device.

This book wouldn’t have been the same experience without Demchuk’s personal and vulnerable account of his own struggles as they relate to the story.

Both Red X and Demchuk’s firs
Janelle Janson
Aug 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror, 2021
I am still thinking about this book. Review to come.
Sep 19, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars.
Using the murders of several gay men in Toronto as the basis for this book, author David Demchuk weaves in memoir-like sections into the horror narrative. I say memoir-like because at one point Demchuk, or the unnamed narrator, interacts with one of the characters in the story. She, among various others within the Toronto gay and lesbian community, have noticed that some of their acquaintances and friends have gone missing. Demchuk brings otherworldly horror into an already horrific st
Tim McGregor
Sep 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Starting out as a mystery about men vanishing from Toronto's gay community, David Demchuk weaves a tour de force of storytelling through horror, true crime, history and personal memoir that left this reader absolutely spellbound. Frightening, searing, tragic, and heartbreakingly human to the core. One of the best books I've read this year. ...more
Brittany (bees.horror.haunts)
2 months ago, I sat down to read RED X. I originally had a kindle copy from NetGalley, but the formatting was so bad that I put it to rest and call it a DNF. The author has since been awesome enough to send me a physical copy for review.

Unfortunately, I made the tough decision to DNF this book again at 60%.

I am from Windsor, Ontario. The events of this book take place in Toronto, Ontario. This is a big deal. A book about The Village is important. And I was very excited to read this.

Aiden Merchant
Aug 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5

PLEASE NOTE: I originally reviewed Red X several weeks ago and gave it 3.75 out of 5.0 due to the difficulties I had with my digital ARC. The publisher has since sent me a paperback for comparison and I have re-read much of the book so that I can update my review (which follows).

Let me begin by saying I love the design and production of this paperback. It has a soft cover that imitates a hardcover and is complete with back and front flaps. The pages appear to be recycled in
Steve Stred
Aug 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 star review coming to Kendall Reviews!
Justin Lewis
Aug 13, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For decades, gay men have gone missing from Toronto, vanishing without a trace. Their friends and family left with nothing to go on. As patterns emerge over time, our characters learn there's something truly sinister preying on these men. And it's happening again...

This book is so many things; part horror novel, part memoir, part tribute (in a way), and all heart. The story takes place over a long stretch of time and interspersed between these time jumps are the author's memories of what it was
Oct 13, 2021 marked it as dnf
I feel like a horrible gay for DNFing this important book, but the writing style lost me completely. I think if the narrative was broken out by POV instead of specific dates, I'd have a better time following along. Maybe I'll come back to it - I've seen so many amazing reviews for this book. ...more
Etain Ryan
Aug 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure how to do justice to this book in a review. I received an arc copy from a colleague at Indigo. He had stopped reading it as he had got nightmares from it. I can see why! I am not a horror reader but this being an lgbtq* story set in my hometown of Toronto piqued my interest.

Wow is all I can say. It is hard to define this book as it feels more than a horror book. It's like reading several different genres and writing styles in one with everything woven expertly together by a talente
Hailey Piper
Sep 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Demchuk's ambitious novel about the disappearances of gay men in Toronto, Canada for decades, and centuries, cuts its narrative with the horrors of folkloric dread, scenes of slasher tension, and the pain of societal neglect and disdain. Torn across hard times and troubled characters, the years eat at both those who go missing and those left behind.

It's a unique manner of storytelling, slipping between history and now, when the author searches for answers. The sometimes journalistic approach ma
Sep 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. History of gay Toronto through a horror lens.
W. Jordan
Sep 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Brilliant, beautiful, heartbreaking, terrifying. This was not the book I thought I was going to be reading. It is so much better! A unique and engaging story that is gratifyingly queer and beautifully layered. Red X creates something you must read to believe. There are so many things I want to talk about but I won't give one spoiler on this story here. Stay tuned for more! ...more
Jordan Shiveley
Jul 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
RED X by David Demchuk is a story that worms its way beneath your skin and slowly fills all the dark voids between your meat and bones that you had been previously unaware existed. It is a book of raw vulnerability and exceptional craft and pacing proving that you can indeed have your cake and eat it just have to beware of the fact the cake might in this case be a moldering phantom made from trauma both personal and societal and a Thing that has been hungering for you long before you w ...more
Oct 10, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2021
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rachel S
Aug 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
On its face, this is a story about gay men vanishing from Toronto's gay village. There are supernatural elements and graphic depictions of violence, but the real horror is in how familiar this all is. Demchuk creates a community of characters, following them for 30 years as they live, love, and grieve while their friends are carried off while the cops look the other way.

Sometimes it was difficult to divorce this book from reality. Passages about gay men of colour being preyed upon without conseq
Matthew Condello
Sep 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book terrified the hell out of me. A remarkable genre bending work that felt intimate, immediate and yet epic and historical. This is queer fiction, horror, and and queer horror at its finest and most personal and emotional. Growing up in the late 80’s and 90’s I was very aware of the gay men who vanished. The bright lights disappeared from the world from disease and from violence and despair. For a young gay man they were the things that kept you in the closet. The memories and knowledge o ...more
Sep 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book made me so fucking uncomfortable. Fun fact, in between reading this, driving home, and finishing it, Maneater by the Blue-Eyed Blondes started playing! Just thought that was fun.
Meg Harding
Sep 13, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I bought this book entirely on a whim. The cover caught me and when I noticed that the novel was set in Toronto, I couldn't resist. (It's so rare, as a Canadian, to find novels set in familiar Canadian cities!)

The format of the book was a little atypical, but I quickly came to enjoy the style in which it was written. The book spans over about three decades. Following up each chapter is an insert that tends to slightly break the fourth wall but really adds to the building mystery of character dis
Sep 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
With Red X, David Demchuk delivered more of what I loved about his first book The Bone Mother while managing to tell a completely different story.

Men in Toronto’s Gay Village have begun to go missing, vanishing without a trace and leaving fear in their wake, all linked by the strange and reocurring sightings of an old red notebook filled with cryptic text in foreign languages and a wolf/dog-like creature who haunts the city’s darkest corners. But it was the story at the heart of this story that
Jun 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, arcs
This was a very complex and winding story that spans over thirty years in a rapidly changing and gentrifying Toronto through the rotating perspective of a network of queer friends, lovers and acquaintances. Gay men are going missing, and against the backdrop of the AIDS/HIV epidemic and society's continued apathy towards the community, the men are never found. The author infuses what would be nonfiction with a hybrid of Scottish and English folklore to make it an eerie and gripping read. Otherwi ...more
Sep 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The jacket description for this book might indicate that it's the sort of didactic genre fiction that's currently in vogue, the kind that gets blurbed as "urgent" and praised for its diversity (and not much else) and which, in the end, is much more concerned with the POV of the oppressor than the oppressed. This is not that book, thank god. David Demchuk is both smarter and more talented than that.

What this book is instead is - hard to describe. It's been called a horror novel slash memoir, whi
Cass (only the darkest reads)
Aug 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Thank you to NetGalley and Strange Light Books, and to David himself for lending me a physical copy.

Pushing the boundaries between truth and fiction, Red X is a deeply personal exploration of an insidious entity stealing gay men from The Village in Toronto. This book is more than just queer horror, it's memoir and tribute, history and folklore. A collection of memorials for the men who have disappeared, and the fear that remains as one who has been left behind.

David himself is a character in his
Michelle Wong
Aug 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book will be one that haunts me in my dreams and having me recommending it to horror fans especially if they enjoy folklore. It brought questions to my mind of how society forgets so quickly when bad things happen to those who never asked for it. I knew stories of the events that happened in Toronto during the 80's of the HIV and soon to be AIDs issues from family or friends growing up. But to see it put into a story that rattles your nerves and make you feel the sadness, loneliness that th ...more
Sep 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
A groundbreaking horror novel for sure, that layers deaths among gay men in the Toronto Village, with the author's own experiences with horror as a gay man, and which eventually merge.

Every 8 years, starting in 1980 (e.g. then 1988, etc), up to 2016, a presence seems to emerge around the gay village in Toronto that takes a gay man. Told as a series of almost vignettes, links are made back to Alexander Wood, perhaps Toronto's most famous historical gay man in the late 1700s.

The book is most succ
Sandra Gornall
Oct 05, 2021 rated it liked it
I'm not a horror reader. I picked up this book because it's set in Toronto and responds to the horrific series of murders in the gay village in the 2010s. David Demchuk mixes metaphor, folklore, pop culture, urban history, and autobiography to create a unique and often moving book. The horror story didn't fully engage me - I couldn't keep track of the numerous characters and symbols - but the passages in the narrator's voice drew me in. (As another reviewer suggested, Demchuk should consider wri ...more
Oct 15, 2021 rated it liked it
While this book touched on some really important topics (especially the true crime aspect about the gay men disappearing from The Village in Toronto), I found the story to be very convoluted. I’m probably just not used to this author’s writing, but at times it was hard to follow the storyline.

There were some creepy drawings in this and one particular section of the book that looked cool.

I think I appreciated the first person narrator more than the third person exploration of the victims of thi
P.J. Vernon
Aug 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
What do you say about a book that cuts your soul open??? Unforgettable y’all.

With prose that pops like champagne against a backdrop of terror, RED X cuts its teeth on its readers' most primordial fears—and what sharp teeth they are. As this devastating, unforgettable horror unfolds within a community besieged on all sides, the seamless inclusion of Demchuk’s own lived experiences clarify one of the novel’s most brutal truths: When you’re hunted by monsters—be they men or microscopic—to be queer
Chad Guarino
Aug 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
David Demchuk combines the very real fear felt in LGBTQ+ communities with a centuries old terror causing men to disappear to tell a very effective horror story in Red X. Demchuk breaks the fourth wall multiple times to speak of his own history, and while this can normally seem jarring in any story, it works here due to the deeply personal nature of the narrative. Red X will undoubtedly and deservedly find its way onto multiple year-end lists as an important entry into the LGBTQ+ horror canon.

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