A green hell where death waits behind every tree, in every pooling shadow, and in every mist-haunted hollow. Boobytraps and bullets, landmines and rockets.
Mike McKinney went to write about the war, about the terror and frustrations, soldiers and people and a landscape forever altered by the conflict...but he ran across something even worse: a primeval horror straight out of the darkest Vietnamese folklore. A monstrosity that stalks human heads among the twisted, jungled hills of the Central Highlands.
Now it is hunting him.
And nothing can stop it."
If this novella had focused solely on journalist Mike McKinney's experiences in Vietnam, I would have given it 4 stars. That portion of the novella really stood out for me. Mr. Curran does a wonderful job of capturing the atmosphere, setting, and feeling of the war. I felt as though I was right there in that jungle with Mike and the soldiers.
Unfortunately, the horror portion of the novella, which is what this story is essentially supposed to be, turned out to be the weakest part. The buildup worked well up until midway into the story, and then the story sort of unraveled and never fully recovered. The denouement, which should have been the most exciting and frightening part, felt rushed, not fully realized, and anticlimactic.
There were also a few minor writing issues and errors that jumped out at me, such as "soak up the atmosphere" was written as "suck up the atmosphere", "wondering in the jungle" instead of "wandering in the jungle", and a few awkward sentence structures. That being said, there was some very pretty and evocative writing such as this:
"And all around us the night crawled and slithered and danced in hostile, phantasmal forms, brushing us and flowing over us and reaching out for us with clutching, black fingers."
In addition, the dialogue was also very well done.
So, while I enjoyed certain elements of the story, overall it just did not meet my expectations.
Final Rating: 2 stars