cover image The Militia House

The Militia House

John Milas. Holt, $26.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-250-85706-4

Horror debuts don’t come much more impressive than this unsettling offering from Milas, who puts his experience as a U.S. Marine stationed in Afghanistan to good use. While setting a haunted house in the Afghan desert isn’t intuitive, Milas’s facility for capturing the mixed terror and boredom of war makes this a standout. It’s 2010, and Cpl. Alex Loyette is in Helmand Province overseeing soldiers at a forward operating base that provides logistical support for transport helicopters. Near the base is an abandoned Soviet-era building known as the militia house, which, according to British soldiers who’ve been at the base the longest, was the site of a brutal massacre of Russian soldiers, who’d purportedly been skinned alive by mujahideen in the ’80s. Loyette and his men can’t resist the temptation to sneak a visit to the house, a brief foray that leads to some terrifying consequences, leaving all parties haunted. Milas is brilliant at making his lead’s eerie experiences and surreal hallucinations vivid, scary, and psychologically nuanced. Fans of classic horror will welcome this outstanding new talent. (July)