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Literature / Red Room

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There are no good guys in the world of shadows...but maybe some bad men are better than others.
The Red Room is an Urban Fantasy series by C.T. Phipps and published by Ragnarok Publications.

The series follows Derek Hawthorne, a Man In Black member of an Ancient Conspiracy known as the House which is devoted to upholding The Masquerade. Thinking about retirement, but never quite getting there, Derek is joined by his succubus partner, Shannon O'Reilly, as they work against Eso-Terrorists or supernaturals who are attemtping to reveal the supernatural to the public. Gray and Gray Morality abounds as the two sides are both shown to have legitimate points.

The books were originally a standalone series but have since been Retcon-ed as a tie-in to the The United States of Monsters. This means the series that originally took place in 2015 were retconned as taking place in 2006, two years before the Broken Masquerade in 2008.

Books in the series:

  • Esoterrorism (2015)
  • Eldritch Ops (2017)


The series contains the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: Shannon, Penny, and Cassandra.
  • Affably Evil: The Wazir is a kindly old grandfather type, who will kill entire cities if it means the Truth comes out.
  • Agents Dating: Derek Hawthorne and Shannon O'Reilly have an immediate attraction which later leads to them becoming sexually involved. Complicated by the fact Shannon was ordered to seduce him, which Derek knows, and that agents are expected to marry in order to continue the Conspiracy—which neither member wants to involve any offspring in.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The House has existed, ostensibly, since the time of ancient Babylon. Word of God says this is bullshit but fits their purposes to claim.
  • Ancient Tradition: While the House is an Ancient Conspiracy, the Red Room is more like this, protecting the world from the supernatural as well as covering up its existence.
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  • Archenemy: The Wazir serves as this to the Red Room as of Esoterrorism. He's killed at the end of the book.
  • The Archmage: The Wazir is one of these. The Committee is also implied to be composed of these. Subverted by Derek, who is a beginner at best, at the end of Esoterrorism.
  • Arc Welding: Is made part of the United States of Monsters series, retconning the series to taking place in 2006 just before the Broken Masquerade.
  • Badass Abnormal: Talbot, Shannon, and the Wazir all qualify as this.
  • Badass Gay: Derek's sister Penny is a Black Magician Girl who kicks a lot of ass. She's also a lesbian.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: All of the Red Room agents tend to be this.
  • Badass Normal: It's stated, more or less, regular humans have no chance against supernaturals in a straight fight and only win by using superior numbers and tactics. Derek, repeatedly, subverts this and has survived missions he by all rights shouldn't have. Derek becomes a Badass Abnormal by the end, awakening his long dormant magical powers.
  • Battle Couple: Derek and Shannon by the end. Derek's parents were implied to be this during World War 2.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Derek tries a number of these throughout the book. The one to infiltrate Pantheon Corp is Epic Fail. The one to find the infiltrator, though, is a Funny Moment.
  • Bi the Way: Shannon is said to be 'omnivorous' in her sexual tastes.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Cassandra turns out to have been this during her marriage to Derek. He's appropriately horrified.
  • Broken Masquerade: The goal of groups like the Emerald Eye.
  • Cloak & Dagger: One of the better examples in urban fantasy.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Cassandra Cassidy of Pantheon Corp is believed to be this. They're right.
  • Cowboy Cop: Derek is considered to be the spy version of this, being senior enough and well-connected enough to get away with it, much to the consternation of his boss. It's implied Derek actually accomplishes a lot of his missions due to this and Refuge in Audacity. It provides him just enough of an edge in sheer confusion that he gets the drop on his foes. Indeed, it's very likely that his superiors have mistaken him for a Cowboy Cop when he's closer to being a Bunny-Ears Lawyer.
  • Creature-Hunter Organization: The Red Room performs these duties as part of their activities.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Shannon's Lilin form. Subverted by the fact this is when she can tear you limb from limb.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone in the book qualifies as this.
  • Duel of Seduction: Shannon and Derek try this on one another to see if they can get an edge on each other. They fall in love instead.
  • Elvis Lives: Derek is shown a picture of his Uncle Talbot and Elvis Presley sitting next to a Gray alien. Derek remarks that he didn't know his uncle met Elvis.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Red Room suffers a good deal of this to monsters. Subverted in the fact many of them really are that dangerous. Nonhumans, simultaneously, tend to think little of humans.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Implied to be the case with the Astral Plane generating ideas which can physically enter the world. Rakshasas, magic, Celtic fairies, mummies, ogres, kappas, kelpies, yetis, Hollow Earth, a still living Elvis Presley, dragons, trolls, Oni, unicorns, ghosts, demons, elves, vampires, Draugr, homunculi, succubi, angels, Frankenstein's Monster, Aladdin's flying carpet, kitsune, Grey aliens, the Loch Ness Monster, Odin, and a few other things have been either seen or mentioned in passing as being real.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: Talbot is the inspiration for the Creature according to Derek. Notable for the fact, he seems to be a fairly charming fellow and his scars wouldn't be that big of a problem in many places.
  • Goth Girls Know Magic: Penny is a thirty-two-year-old Goth girl who is also an amazingly powerful sorceress.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The Red Room functions as a spy agency on supernatural beings. It's also the intelligence arm of the House.
  • Gray and Gray Morality: Both the Emerald Eye, House, and other factions all have valid points. Sometimes verges on Black and Gray Morality with some of the more extreme examples.
  • The Greys: Derek is shown a picture of his Uncle Talbot and Elvis Presley sitting next to a Gray alien. Derek remarks that he didn't know his uncle met Elvis.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Subverted in that both Penny and Derek are human despite having a dragon for a mother. Their mother had to assume a fully human form in order to mate with a human and have kids. It still leaves them subject to Fantastic Racism.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Discussed repeatedly by Derek. He never stops dwelling on his role in the Red Room as a Senior Agent and killer.
  • Horny Devils: Lilin feed by sex or sexual energy. They can kill you this way, so it's in the best interests of mortals not to get too close. Shannon has learned to control it and can only take a little at a time.
  • The Illuminati:
    • Derek lampshades this in Esoterrorism, saying the House more or less embodies every single conspiracy nut's fears about this except reptile men.
    • The cover for Esoterrorism is a visual homage given the pyramid in the background and Word of God has confirmed the House is the in-universe inspiration for the organization.
  • Kitsune: Mentioned in passing as being real.
  • Klingon Promotion: How you join the Committee since all of them are immortal wizards. The only way to prove you're worthy to become one of the smartest, most powerful men in the world is to make room.
  • Magitek: Namedropped in the book. The wizards of the House (called "The White Room") use science to maximize the potential of their spells and create all manner of fun gadgets and devices.
  • The Masquerade: What the Red Room exists to preserve.
  • Megacorp: Pantheon Corporation is the world's biggest supplier of everything. Justified as it's a front for the House and misuses their ties to become more powerful as well as widespread.
  • The Men in Black: While they don't use this description for themselves, the agents of the Red Room serve this function. Subverted in the fact, despite their job, they're pretty much normal people with the same emotions and attitudes as anyone else. Lampshaded in-universe when they mention it would undermine their ability to do their job covering up supernatural events if they wore such a conspicuous outfit.
  • Norse Mythology: Odin.
  • Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Committee is composed of twelve wizards who rule over the House from all over the wordl. Derek joins them at the end of Esoterrorism.
  • Out with a Bang: Lilin are capable of killing this way and when they lose control, DO kill this way.
  • Perky Goth: Penny and Lucy both qualify for this. May also qualify as Author Appeal given they work for a spy agency.
  • Pop-Cultured Badass: Derek Hawthorne is a fan of Bruce Lee, the Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, James Bond films (enough to know details about individual films), several video games, Star Wars, and horror movies. Justified as it's mentioned Derek, despite the fact he's a super-cool spy, was more or less raised at home by the television.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Professor seems to be one of the few individuals who actually gives a shit about doing their job of protecting mankind and finding real-traitors versus going with the easy answers.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Talbot's plan to sneak past Cassandra's defenses? Sneak a team into their base with a flying carpet.
  • Retirony: Derek is thinking of retiring when he's framed for treason.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Derek gets away with a lot more than he should due to the fact he's the son of a Committee member. He despises this fact since he long ago broke ties with his father but it's still there. It's also implied Derek gets away with as much as he does because he's well-liked and really-really good at his job.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The name of the series is an homage to both the Red Room of Marvel comics which trained the Black Widow and the room Cooper visits in Twin Peaks according to Word of God.
    • There are more than enough shout-outs to everything to warrant its own page. Just see the Pop-Cultured Badass entry.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Every other line between Shannon and Derek is them throwing a zinger at each other.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: To The Laundry Files. Whereas the Laundry is about nerdy but damaged civil servants facing the Apocalypse, the Red Room is about glamorous superspies fighting a more conventional War on Terror.
  • Spy Catsuit: Subverted as Shannon mentions wearing one only in jest. She considers skintight leather the last thing a person who wants to remain inconspicuous should wear.
  • Spy Fiction: Stale Beer Served in a Martini Glass flavored variety. Derek and Shannon are witty, glamourous, beautiful, uber-talented super-spies who fight monsters. They're also deeply damaged people who question the value as well as morality of their actions on a constant basis.
  • Spy Speak: Subverted by the existence of the Rings of Veritas. It allows agents of the Red Room to speak freely without worrying about listeners.
  • Stock Ness Monster: The Trope Namer is mentioned in passing in the prologue as being real.
  • This Is Reality: A Dramatic Irony example as Derek keeps insisting this is next to his glamorous Femme Fatale partner in epic gunfights and shoot-outs. He seems to be more in denial than anything else.
  • Trenchcoat Brigade: Derek is a schemer, Guile Hero, and trickster who wears a Trenchcoat. He also is a minor magician at the end of Esoterrorism.
  • Urban Fantasy: Advertised as James Bond meets the Dresden Files.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Wazir believes the Truth should be let out because it forces supernaturals and humans at each others throats. Also, regular people have a right to know about the supernatural. The House, contrast, believes the world would self-destruct if this happened. Both qualify for this trope.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The threat of one of these is a driving force in Esoterrorism. Notable in the fact it would require terrorists to deliberately spread it and the army WOULD be able to deal with it. It just would break The Masquerade wide open.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Draugr are monsters created with vampire blood which are cannibalistic mindless creatures that are strong, fast, and durable. Also qualifies as Our Vampires Are Different.
  • Villain Has a Point: Word of God has this as a deliberate theme as the Wazir, Cassandra, Committee, and Doctor Strickland all have valid points. It's just they're also ruthless in their pursuit. But then again, so are the heroes.
  • We Have Reserves: A horrifying figure brought up in the book is that roughly one-third of all field agents are expected to be killed over the course of their duties. This becomes Fridge Horror when you realize the majority of these agents are family-members to the other House members around them. It gets worse when you notice how muted everyone's reaction to this. Which, of course, is because they've been raised to view it as normal.
  • Witty Banter: Shannon and Derek engage in a lot of this.
  • World of Snark: Derek, Shannon, Penny, Lucy, and even the Wazir get quips in.
  • Yandere: Cassandra turns out to have these sorts of feelings regarding Derek. It's due to brainwashing she's only partially recovered from.


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