The Blue Heron by Gene O'Neill
87 pages Bad Moon books (Hardcover limited/Paperback)
Gene O'Neill's novella “Jade” was my number six read of 2010, I wanted another 100 pages. It was a charming post apocalypse story, yep you read that right. O'Neil is a talented story teller through and through and that story set in the ruins that had once been San Diego was emotionally gripping from the first page to the last. I also read and loved his Bram Stoker award winning collection of stories taking place in San Francisco called “The Taste of Tenderloin” So I jumped at a chance to review another novella from him, this one is also Stoker nominated and is called The Blue Heron.
It is the story about the surviving members of a Marine recon unit that were apart of a tramatic attack on a small arms depot in vietnam where they were involved in the killing of innocent pregnant woman. The members of the team begin to die, each one is found with a small blue Origami meant to look like a Blue Heron. This has meaning to the still living members of the team as they saw a Blue Heron out of place in SE asia on the the day of the murder back in 1962.
This is quick excellently paced horror novella that jet sets with with characters as they try to solve the mystery of who is trying to kill them. I certainly can see that O'Neill had enough for a much longer story but it is perfectly paced with no fluff, making it a great read. I am sure I enjoyed Jade more, but I have become a fan of Gene O'Neill whose strongest asset is consistently strong story-telling abilit and pitch perfect pacing and prose.
He is not flashy, but solid and has made a fan out of this reader. I think this strong entry in the Dark Regions novella series should be in any collection that takes horror fiction seriously.