Husk tells the story of a soldier home from war, dealing with the stress of PTSD and drugs. For the majority of the novella, it reads more like a drama than horror; Kevin Brooks is damaged from losing his best friend in Afghanistan, and is looking to cope with that loss and the ones back home. With his grandparents now passed, he has their house he once knew so well. Only, it’s empty and haunting now. The property is overgrown, dirty, and it seems like something is following him around. The scenes that take us through the development of Kevin’s character are fantastic (if Deering wasn’t in Afghanistan herself, I’d be surprised – that’s how well she wrote that opening), not to mention unnerving and all-to-realistic; everything that happens in this book can and has happened elsewhere. Without going into detail, Kevin gradually loses his mind as his insecurities and fears appear to take on a physical, hungry form.
As mentioned before, the writing of Husk is top notch. You’ve got to hand it to Deering; she has a way with words, and does a beautiful job in painting characters and their downfalls. The concept is also a great one – you’ve got to love a horror story that is actually based in reality. In a lot of ways, these kind of stories strike you to a deeper core as a result. I was sucked in right from the start.
I will, however, say that Husk has a couple faults. There is a lull in the story as we watch Kevin and his love interest, Samantha, meet and become attached. It is then followed by the horror-soaked ending, which feels sped-up and rushed. The way Samantha dies wasn’t even clear; I had to reread the pages several times to assume she was poisoned. I think if Deering had given the story another 30-50 pages here for development of Kevin’s inner monster, it would have worked wonders for the final impression.
Complaints aside, Husk has brought Deering to my attention in a good way. I look forward to anything else she writes moving forward (speaking of, where is this Wytchwood Hollow book she started promoting back in 2017??). ~ by Andrew Redman