Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ancient Enemy

Ancient EnemyAncient Enemy by Michael McBride
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When his family's livestock is slaughtered, Sani Natonaba has to find out what is behind it, leaving the reservation to find it. But what do the mysterious killings have to do with the disappearance of his Anasazi ancestors centuries earlier?

I got this from DarkFuse via Netgalley.

So I'm pretty much in love with DarkFuse at this point. I think that when it comes to horror, shorter works often pack more of a punch and Ancient Enemy is no exception. And to think I almost didn't pick it up because of the cover. I was thinking it looked like I was going to play one of the Diablo games rather than embark on a journey into terror.

Ancient Enemy is the story of a poor Ute/Navajo teenager named Sani Natonaba. His mother is an alcoholic and his grandfather is immobile after a stroke, leaving him to tend their sheep and chickens. When something starts threatening their livelihood, Sani is forced to track it down, leading him to uncover an ancient feud between his people and something that lives underground...

Unlike other entries in this series, I'd never heard of the author, Michael McBride, before but he certainly has some chops. I was just as creeped out as Sani was when he made his journey into the catacombs below the ground.

Funny how the cover of this one gave me the impression he'd be going up against a demon. Ancient Enemy wound up being closer to what I pictured Nightcrawlers to be about. A lost tribe living beneath the surface of the earth, deforming themselves with animal horn grafts and mountain lion teeth. I saw the Charles Dexter Ward-style revelation coming at the end but that didn't diminish its power.

Sani crawls through tunnels in the dark, going up against subterranean savages, before finally settling things. What is it with me reading claustrophobia-inducing stories that take place underground lately?

The historical notes at the end were a nice touch, talking about tribal body modifications and lost tribes. Much like I Am The New God, part of the horror of Ancient Enemy was that it wasn't completely out of the realm of possibility.

DarkFuse keeps rolling forward with no end in sight. 4 out of 5 stars.

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