Something Red is not what I would consider a typical fantasy novel, but that is not a criticism. It is set in 13th century England and is both a coming of age tale and a haunting mystery. There are definitely fantasy elements and magic in it, but they are not revealed or understood initially. Part of what sets it apart is that it is told from the perspective of young Hob, a 13 year old orphan (see... it is a fantasy book, it has an orphan boy as the protagonist ;) ), who is traveling with Molly, a stoic, strong female who is leading the group, her lover Jack and her granddaughter Neiman. The difference, to me, what set it apart, was that Hob has no knowledge of magic, or strange fantastical creatures. The story centers on Hob's journey with Molly and the others and the fear of the unknown that was wreaking havoc around them. What is going on is left for the reader to discover as the story progresses and Hob himself discovers and understands it.
This is not a fast paced book, even during the parts that contain "action". But it is a wonderfully vivid book. I found the authors descriptive prose to be beautifully written. It was lyrical and the imagery and sounds surrounding the settings were so masterfully created. I honestly can not think of another novel I have read that has accomplished this to the level that Nicholas has in this book. Others may disagree, but what he did, worked really well for me. I will also mention that perhaps the vividness, and flow of the prose should not be surprising since Nicholas is a poet (and an award winning one at that).
The book is not perfect, I could make some criticisms for parts that I would like to see done differently (or not at all), but those are minor and overall, this was a very enjoyable read, and something different.