I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this recent offering from Darkhart Press. The military drama angle of US soldiers going missing and fighting an “unspeakable menace” in Iraq didn’t sound desperately original or my cup of tea. But I gave it a go and was pleased that I did.
It starts with a pair of soldiers in remotest Iraq who discover the journal of a man from a long-vanished platoon. His journal describes an almost deserted village in which the platoon became trapped. People died, creepy goings-on ensued, and the journal ends.
Shortly after, the pair of soldiers find the village and by this point I was hooked. Tightly plotted and fast paced, this book grabbed my hand and ran without giving me any choice in the matter. The action and chase sequences are handled with aplomb and I think I might have actually held my breath a couple of times.
There are some faults. While the early journal section sets the mood, it doesn’t read like a journal but more like a novel, which dulls the realistic effect. Some of the characters are slightly stock and I also sometimes found the author over-descriptive. There is also a very jarring scene in which while running for their lives, one soldier manages to regale his companion with complex information about how their terrible situation came about. While this dialogue is clearly to inform the reader, it didn’t ring true in that situation.
But never mind all that. Although somewhat obvious, the characters are strong to a man. The atmosphere of the desert is perfect and the tension is palpable throughout. It also managed to make me afraid of the supernatural. I like spooky, but it’s usually just fun. This author has a talent for even the most imaginative of beasties to kick down your reality filters.
It’s a ride and I’ll happily read Mr Morrigon’s work in future.