Invading life forms come from deep within the Earth, not from outer space, in Nash’s debut novella.
A real geological phenomenon known as the Taos Hum helped to inspire this tale that blends sci-fi and horror. Creatures within the Earth come out of dormancy and prey on humans when the Hum stops. (The book doesn’t fully explain that sound, but curious readers may look it up online or elsewhere.) The on-and-off cycle for the Hum spans millennia, and no human remembers the creatures' last awakening. Clues of it remain in ancient art and mythology, and an understanding of it comes only to Gabe Peppard, an archaeology professor fascinated by the implications of the clues and disturbed by his lucid, terrifying dreams. Nash interweaves Gabe’s story with that of Don Marseilles of Valdez, N.M., the unlucky sheriff in the region in which the creatures emerge. The first hint of trouble comes when people start disappearing, beginning with little Emily’s mother. Emily witnesses the abduction but goes mute from shock and can’t help investigators. Eventually, she provides drawings of what she saw and, along with a second witness who lacks credibility, steers the sheriff toward the right course. Josh, the sheriff’s young-adult son, brings his father and Gabe together after finding the professor online and persuading him to contribute his knowledge. As they try to keep more people from disappearing and terror from spreading among local residents, the investigators face two big hurdles: accepting what the evidence points to and their ignorance of how to deal with it. This novella reads like a long synopsis of a good story idea, heavy on businesslike writing and extraneous descriptions along the lines of “he played a computer game for about an hour...watched a couple of You Tube videos that were the top ten for the day. He checked his e-mail.” The book lacks emotional intensity and fully developed, sci-fi creatures. Instead, readers must work to imagine the nightmare of being attacked by surprise and stored alive as food for the creatures’ larvae when they hatch.
A tale with enough horror to carry the story but not enough to keep readers awake at night.