Review of Bryon Morrigan’s “The Desert”
The Desert is author Bryon Morrigan’s debut novel and tells the tale of a mysterious abandoned village buried deep in the Iraqi Desert found not once, but twice by the U.S. military. The main story takes place in 2009 and introduces the reader to Specialist Densler and the Captain he is carting around in a Humvee on the hunt to find WMD’s. They stumble onto an area where GPS doesn’t work and come across the body of a soldier and his journal. It becomes immediately clear that the solider went missing six years earlier along with the rest of “Eight Up Platoon” near the beginning of the invasion of Iraq. The Captain is excited to find the journal and possible clues as to what happened to the rest of the men, but when reading the journal it becomes clear that something strange is at work in the small village. Green mist flows out from the ground at night and there are hints of shadowy creatures wandering about. Plus they can’t find anyone else’s body.
This is a fast moving horror story that reads easy and keeps the energy up throughout. Short chapters give the story a sense of urgency, and flashbacks to the old journal entries sparked my curiosity about what was really going on. Densler’s thoughts about his Captain get a little bit repetitive-the Captain is an incompetent coward in Densler’s eyes and nothing that happens in the story disputes that belief. This served as a bit of a distraction for me, but I enjoyed this story despite this minor irritation. The author comes up with a creative batch of monsters rising up from the bowels of the earth through a dark pit in the ground, and even some pretty interesting theories about where they came from, which kept me tuned in the whole way.
I previously read the author’s follow up novel, Archeron, so I sort of got things backward. While it would have been best to read this book first, Archeron does a solid job of standing on its own, as does The Desert. I have to admit I enjoyed this, the author’s first effort, more than his second. My review of Archeron details my issues with that story, which definitely has its merits and was a fun read in its own right. The Desert was a more intriguing and provides more of an introduction to this strange new world that intrigued me. I am gathering there will be a sequel to Archeron. It is clear there is more story to tell.
Much like I stated in my other review, I give high praise to the author for crafting an intriguing mythology that give his book a unique flavor. He has an excellent knowledge of the military and that shows in his work as well, though his disdain for commissioned officers is hard to miss and is somewhat distracting. The Desert is a fun read, and while Archeron is, in my view, not quite as good, it is still an entertaining continuation of this saga, and gives me plenty of reason to want to check out the author’s third act when it comes out.
The Desert can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004XJKYKU/ref=cm_cr_thx_view