—Danielle Dutton, author of Margaret the First and publisher of the Dorothy Project
The jungle is alive and everywhere in Kea Wilson's remarkable debut novel, gorgeous and indifferent, it's ravening appetite the very real horror unleashed by human heedlessness and hubris. Denied all explanation of motivation by his Kurtz like director, a young American actor finds himself on a harrowing journey, taking us with him—spellbound, resistless—into ‘one of the dark places of the earth.'
—Kathryn Davis, author of Duplex and The Thin Place
This is a big, fast novel—bigger than it looks, full of surprises—and it never rests. It launches into the South American jungle and finds trouble there in the form of layer upon layer of perilous and tenuous reality: in the midst of a movie and in the movie inside that movie, in a village overrun by the landscape, among tribes real and fabricated, and in the middle of a power struggle between drug cartels and guerrilla groups, under threat of a war that may be only as genuine as the cannibals. Kea Wilson writes beautifully from a wide range of perspectives. This one is hard to put down.
—Marshall Klimasewiski, author of The Cottagers and Tyrants
Kea Wilson has written an ambitious, multi layered novel that follows a director’s dark vision into the depths of the jungle, and into a secret world of political anarchy, murder, and war.
—Atticus Lish, author of Preparation for the Next Life, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award
In Wilson’s gripping, ambitious debut novel, a struggling actor flies to the rain forests of Colombia to star in Jungle Bloodbath, a grind house horror film directed by an eccentric Italian auteur … The drama builds palpably and haphazardly, drawing the invading crew and invaded population together until, in a moment of cathartic bloodshed, reality and fiction collide … the story never flags thanks to the ferocious momentum of [Wilson’s] prose. This is a vivid, scary novel.
Inspired by actual events, Wilson shows impressive command of a narrative that weaves back and forth and back again in both time and locale; much like the viewer of a pseudo documentary horror movie (ever seen The Blair Witch Project?), you wonder throughout whether you should trust whatever it is you're told—and jumping to the end won't help at all. You shouldn't anyway, because Wilson's writing style is hypnotic, tightly wound, and harrowingly evocative of the story's stifling, bug heavy atmosphere. Even the sunniest skies of this ill starred shoot are thick with menace and portent. Keep telling yourself, "It's only a novel, it's only a novel" ... except an author's note at the end says it's inspired by actual events.
Like Cannibal Holocaust, Wilson's debut wrestles with real versus simulated violence, with Velluto getting the punchline: "There's no such thing as murder in the jungle." This is the smartest kind of horror, one that understands and employs the trappings while making us squirmingly aware of the moral contortions required to enjoy them. A highly unusual breath of fetid air.
—Daniel Kraus, Booklist