Stephen King meets Tim O’Brien in John Milas’s The Militia House, a spine-tingling and boldly original gothic horror novel.
It’s 2010, and the recently promoted Corporal Loyette and his unit are finishing up their deployment at a new base in Kajaki, Afghanistan. Their duties here are straightforward—loading and unloading cargo into and out of helicopters—and their days are a mix of boredom and dread. The Brits they’re replacing delight in telling them the history of the old barracks just off base, a Soviet-era militia house they claim is haunted, and Loyette and his men don’t need much convincing to make a clandestine trip outside the wire to explore it.
It’s a short, middle-of-the-day adventure, but the men experience a mounting agitation after their visit to the militia house. In the days that follow they try to forget about the strange, unsettling sights and sounds from the house, but things are increasingly . . . not right. Loyette becomes determined to ignore his and his marines’ growing unease, convinced that it’s just the strain of war playing tricks on them. But something about the militia house will not let them go.
Meticulously plotted and viscerally immediate in its telling, The Militia House is a gripping and brilliant exploration of the unceasing horrors of war that’s no more easily shaken than the militia house itself.
Top images courtesy of John Milas.