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Husk Kindle Edition
"The Summer Children" by Dot Hutchison
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HUSK is a psychological horror story with some well-sketched characters. Kevin is a war veteran, recently home from Afghanistan and undergoing treatment for PTSD until the VA cuts off his disability checks. They claim he is addicted to the pills they have prescribed him to treat his clinical depression. Kevin doesn't truck well with being told he's a drug addict and goes cold turkey on the meds. Maybe not the best idea ever.
Deering gives us a terrific look at how Kevin copes with PTSD, or doesn't in some cases. He's still plenty shell-shocked, and the tension is only heightened further when something strange begins lurking around his farmhouse, stalking him in the night and threatening his new-found love interest.
This is a work of horror where the people come first and foremost, and Deering takes her time making Kevin and Samantha real, devoting plenty of time to developing their burgeoning relationship.
If I have to pick nits, it's going to be with some of the dialogue and a few technical issues on the writing side. Some it feels a bit too much on the nose, particularly Kevin's rant early in the book when he rails against the VA and his doctor. There's also some wicked POV shifts that took me off guard, where we're with Kevin and then suddenly being told about what's happening inside the neighbor's home, which he could have no knowledge of. These are certainly issues that can be ironed out over time, and aren't exactly surprising to see in a first-time prose author. None of these issues break the story though, nor did they detract from my enjoyment of the work.
And besides, that ending...oomph. Nicely done, that.
Very engaging and believable characters and dialogue that rings true. The writing flows smoothly which makes an easy read. The weakest parts, for me, were the monster visions. They seemed to come out of nowhere and disappear nearly right away with little or no buildup or aftermath. The only other issue I had was that although the book is a novella, the first 4/5 feel like the pace of a full length novel (in a good way). The last 1/5, however, felt rushed like a movie on fast forward as if the author had to keep the word count limited under a fixed amount. Although I would have liked a more consistency throughout the final few chapters, this was an enjoyable read from an author who clearly has talent to write dark fiction with a authentically rich tone that does not shy away from uncomfortable material.
It is smiling.
It wants to destroy everything that he is. Everything that he loves. It won’t stop until there is nothing left…
…but a husk.
A superbly written, tightly executed work with spot on characterizations and a heartbreaking and terrifying plot line.
4.5 Stars rounded up to 5 because there was a whole lot accomplished here in short format. Excellent job. Looking forward to more form Rachel Autumn Deering.
**From somewhere inside the room, he heard it laughing**
HUSK is a short work, a novella, but each sentence is produced fully and contains no excess. This makes for a quick, but filling read. Truly a testament to the Southern Gothics I've always loved.
As as Southerner, Deering beautifully captures the nuances of the South, in both characters and setting. There's always an inner rejoice when an author succeeds in faithfully translating the all-to-often caricatured South into something that rings true. And she nails it with HUSK.
Fans of horror will enjoy this book. Fans of well developed characters will enjoy this book. Fans of pretty stories, and sweet endings will cringe and cower from this book. Not for the faint!
“The latch finally clicked. Kevin twisted the knob and pushed the door open. The house gulped in a big breath of fresh air like some frantic drowning thing breaking the water’s surface and gasping for life. It had sat unopened for so long, suffocating in the silence, its memories blanketed by a thick layer of dust.”
Anyone reading this can clearly see, and feel and hear what Kevin witnesses. This book is filled with wonderful details that take you to another place. Personally I can’t wait for Deering’s next book!