On reading: Husk by Rachel Autumn Deering

Title: Husk

Author: Rachel Autumn Deering

From the back: In this all-too-real work of horror fiction, Rachel Autumn Deering explores the mind of a young man who is struggling to cope with the effects of post-war stress, drug addiction, self-doubt, and loneliness as they manifest themselves into his deepest, darkest fears. 

Kevin Brooks returns to his rural Kentucky hometown after a three-year-long tour of duty in Afghanistan. He has lost the grandparents who raised him, his lifelong best friend, and his trust in the government he once proudly served. When Kevin meets a kind, young girl named Samantha, he thinks his luck might have finally taken a turn for the better. But something else has its eye on Kevin. Something dark and brooding and mean. Something that knows Kevin better than he knows himself. 

The gist: Husk may be short, but it is a neat, creepy work of psychological horror. Deering explores the after effects of war through her main character’s experiences returning home. It’s a sad tale, one where you can feel the hard core of loneliness growing inside of the main character, burrowing through him as he tries to come to terms with his life as it is now. The title is perfect. 

What really drew me into Husk was the dialogue. Each line felt genuine, like you could hear the characters speaking, with turns of phrase that helped set the scene as much as Deering’s descriptions of the town itself. Touches of humour, and a peppering of (sometimes pretty… erm… heated) romance, contrast sharply against the creeping horror that might or might not be just in the mind. The book has a sense of realness to it, making the building tension even more unnerving. 

Husk, short as it is, wastes few words. There are neat, satisfying call-backs and the whole thing is tight. And the end? Well, without wanting to give away too much so y’all can find out for yourselves, suffice to say that you might want to expect a bit of tragedy with your dose of terror. 

Favourite line: “He always worried the Lord would show up when he wasn’t around. Or when he was on the toilet, taking care of a number two.”

Read if: You want a neat nugget of psychological horror, laced with a sense of loneliness and sadness at its core.

Read with: All of the lights on, and the cellar boarded up, just in case. And someone to hug afterwards.

Get it: Husk by Rachel Autumn Deering

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