It did not try to escape. That was somehow the most horrible part of all. It crawled back to its position in the circle of hares and it sat up, despite half its skull being missing. It turned its head so that its remaining eye pointed at me and tucked its paws against its chest like all the others. Whatever looked out at me through that eye was not a hare. My nerve broke and I ran.
First off, this isn't the sort of story you should read when your neighborhood is bunny central, no more morning tea saying softly good morning to them anymore.
Inspired by Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher, Alex is back from the war and going to their friend's house in the country to check on childhood friends. They received a letter from Roderick claiming that his sister Madeline has fallen ill. When they get there, they meet Miss Potter in the country side studying mushrooms, as the area has a multitude of varieties, and a severally ill Madeline, not looking to great himself Roderick, and an American doctor. Alex likes to take the piss out of the doctor in their thoughts: I offered Denton my hand, because Americans will shake hands with the table if you don’t stop them. and Sometimes it’s hard to know if someone is insulting or just an American. So there's some touches of humor in the first half until things start to deteriorate.
“I hear things now,” he said. “Everything. My own heartbeat. Other people’s breathing sounds like thunder. Sometimes I fancy I can hear the worms in the rafters.”
I have to say that I know the author is setting the scene and working to build the suspense but I still thought the first half read fairly slow and it was hard to put myself in the late 1800s mindset of not really knowing what was going on when the mushroom, fungi, and the like is dripping down the walls. I also thought it was a little too convenient that Miss Potter was in the neighborhood, an expert in the field to explain everything; unluckiest luckiest people in this house. This is a little shorter page count, 150ish pages, so while you're introduced to the characters and get some of their personality, Alex, who is telling the story all from their pov, is the only one you really get to know. At the halfway point, when things go south for Madeline, is where I thought the story really picked up.
“What if I told you those were growing out of human skin?”
The second half had some great horror visuals, bunnies with heads half blown off getting up, crawling around, and eyeballing people, and other scenes did give me the creeps and will linger in my mind. I was thinking a two or three star rating and the second half bumped it up to four stars to almost 5. We do get an explanation as to what was going on, a horror taking care of business scene, and then an ending that does and doesn't quite sit well with you that everything will be all right now. If you've been missing episodes of The Last of Us, this would be a great quick story to tied you over.