Review: Buddha Hill
This atmospheric, quiet tale of a soldier in Vietnam who discovers all isn’t quite supernaturally right in the world into which he’s been thrust is a solid, disturbing entry into the magic realist category. If you were lucky enough never to be in Vietnam during the war, this is the closest you’re going to get to touching, tasting, seeing, hearing, and smelling it: the descriptions are so eloquently rendered it is just like being there. In a way, while there are a number of disturbing otherworldly moments, the real flesh-crawling terror here comes from the images of that war itself—the supernatural images are made even worse because of what’s happening around them. I could gush about all the technical things that are right with this, but I’m just going to sum it up in one word: masterful.
Apparently, Booth, who passed away recently, had this tale shoved in a drawer for something like three decades. It’s a crime it hasn’t seen the light of day before now, but I will caution that the publisher decided to leave some of the errors in the original manuscript out of respect. Mostly, it’s missing punctuation in a few spots. Please don’t let that bother you—you’re cheating yourself if you do. As is the case with any horror, this may not be everybody’s bag, so I’ll lay it out: if you are looking for lots of gore and jump scares and a book that moves at the speed of light, then this is not for you. If you, however, love quiet, subtle terror that is rooted in reality, ratchets until you can no longer stand it, and is eloquently penned, you’d be remiss if you didn’t pick up this literary page-turner.