Story 6: “On Skua Island” by John Langan

Boring.  That is the best word I can come up with for this story by newcomer John Langan.  I was excited about him because he was advertised as being in the M.R. James and Co. kind of category – that antiquarian style kind of writing.  At best he mimicked it well, at worst it was a “trying way too hard” kind of attempt.  This story was a bit longer, but at less than fifty pages there is no reason it should have taken me all weekend to finish it.  I just wasn’t that into it.  I’m sorry, too, because I was looking forward to this author.  He’s got four more stories in this collection, and so I am not giving up on him yet, but he must get better.


Summary:  A team of archaeologists are sent to remote Skua Island (named after a native bird that inhabits the island) to investigate a Viking ruin found there.  They are accompanied by a crack military black-ops kind of team, seemingly because the Soviets may be using the island as an intelligence base (the story took place in the early 80’s you get the feeling).  Whatever the archaeologists disturb in the ruin gets angry and begins killing people, violently,  and is apparently impervious to bullets.  The mix of army action and Indiana Jones style adventure didn’t work at all here, and the birds, who I believe were supposed to lend some sort of creepy atmosphere couldn’t even manage that roll well.  The thing disturbed,  a mummy, comes into play way too late for any kind of suspense to have been adequately built.  A disappointment because we could use a good mummy horror story.


Writing:  3/10

Personal Fright:  1/10

General Horror/Oppressiveness:  2/10



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