Review: Husk by Rachel Autumn Deering

Husk - Rachel Autumn Deering

Rachel Autumn Deering has worn various hats in the comic book side of literature, and makes her prose debut with Husk. Based on the strength of this novella, I'd say that's a pretty smart move and I'm hoping to see more works in this vein from her soon.

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.