Slow burners. I think you have to be just the right type of person to appreciate a slow moving, creeping horror novel. Especially the ones that leans towards a more science fiction type landscape. Alan Peter Ryan’s Amazonas is one of those works of fiction, but in a different way. This novella makes no bones about its ambiguity in regards to genre. It’s a tight, well written, and solidly paced amalgimation of Sci-Fi, Thriller, and Horror, that will take you on a long and harrowing journey through the deepest reaches of the Amazon Rainforest.
“The river, the river. She thought it would never end…”
They were in search of the Slave Tree, and this had been a mistake. As the boat traveled up the river, deep into the heart of darkness, Henrietta watched Edwin closely. She watched him chew at his fingernails and spit into the river. She watched a vein in his temple that never stopped throbbing and the tic that made a muscle twitch beside his eye. She watched Edwin and the man named Crown whispering some secret, back and forst, as if Crown was hypnotising Edwin.
The most frightening part of this insane journey was not the fear of losing her husband. She had passed beyond fearing that. But if she did lose Edwin, here, so far upstream from the last outpost of civilization, surrounded by the green-walled forest and the dark tangled terrors it contained, what in the name of God would become of her? There were things moving around the jungle, and there was a madman waiting for them at the end of their journey… and then, most importantly, there was The Slave Tree, which held a secret so dark it could drive a person mad.
The thing that I really dug about this little novella was how it moved in such a slow, deliberate, and creepy manner. The characters just writhed on the page, changing from normal adventurer types, into seething masses of inner-focused insanity. The way that Ryan delivers these folks to us is innocuous, to say the least, and really digs in deep under your skin. The whole idea presented here is, honestly, one of the creepiest things I’ve ever had to imagine, and Ryan doesn’t give you any other choice but to imagine it fully. Whether it be the characters, setting, or the focus of the story itself, Ryan does a brilliant job of presenting a completely engrossing tale that transports you to the dirty waters of the Amazon river.
Amazonas is a short novel, but that doesn’t mean it’s short on thrills. Crown, Henrietta, and Edwin are incredible characters who just ooze darkness. They’re not an evil breed, but they’ve got enough desperation, dark intentions, and raw, animalistic emotion in them to satisfy any reader. They’re both creepy and intriguing, blending some of my favorite things about this genre – the ability to create deep, complex characters, and the opportunity to use them against the reader. In all honesty, I had a hard time with them at first, but eventually found myself completely enamoured by them. In fact, after reading the story, it became one of those situations where I had to force myself to remember that all of these images in my head were from a book and not a movie.
Between the characters and Ryan’s superb ability to describe things beautifully, I found myself memerized. If you dig your horror creepy and brooding, Amazonas is definitely a short novel that you’re going to want to get your hands on.