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We've got your back. With the Tough-O-Meter, you'll know whether to bring extra layers or Swiss army knives as you summit the literary mountain. (10 = Toughest)

(4) Base Camp

(4) Base Camp. For the most part, "The Red Room" is quite readable. Plus, it’s a horror story, which should keep you turning pages. It’s also very short. The main difficulty the story presents is its language and writing style. Wells can certainly sound dated. He uses some archaic (i.e., old) sounding words and constructions (having a "said I" in the first sentence might tip you off), and a fairly rich vocabulary. He can also summon up some long and winding sentences, though they’re never quite at the level of "serpentine." If you’re not focused, you might lose a few details. Still, the story is easy enough to follow, and Wells's 19th century way with words suits the ambience nicely. After all, the tale is set in an old, abandoned mansion. It’s supposed to be dusty.

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