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Sonja Ska Reviews, 5/2/2024

Deep in the Canadian wilderness, there are whispers of a land where giants roam and the heads of men have been left discarded where they fell. When two half-brothers mourning the recent death of their mother set out to reform their bond over an adventure set forth by an absentee father, they quickly learn that some rumors hold truths beyond anything they could ever imagine. 

Here's the thing about In the Valley of the Headless Men - It's vastly underrated. Hernandez is the master of subtle surreal horror. Not in the sense that he's reserved with how weird he's willing to get, but in how he eases you into the strange and unusual, slowly shifting the parameters of the world until it's perfectly believable that you can stumble upon a disappearing cabin or hear the cry of a child on a disconnected baby monitor. The cracks in reality blend into the scenery until they're something you might as well accept because you're miles away from civilization, and you have no choice but to become cool with some really weird stuff really quickly. Don't worry if you're someone who doesn't like letting go of the real world - immersive writing makes the submersion process as easy as slipping into a dream. 

This is one of those horror books that catches you off guard - not only because of the lush magical realism that quite literally transports you to a space entirely out of touch with space and time but also because it poignantly brings you to the center of an emotional vulnerability that's rare to capture so beautifully. As fun as the darkly whimsical backdrop is, In the Valley of the Headless Men is so much more than a story about a bizarre national park. Once you scratch the surface of odd creatures and a stranger who doesn't seem real, you come to the center of the journey: navigating grief and overcoming personal demons. 

Joseph, his brother Oscar, and his ex-love Gillian embark on a journey that forces them to confront their past traumas. Their struggles are raw and heartwrenching, mirroring our own battles with grief and personal demons. As you delve into their story, you'll find yourself not just reading their words but experiencing their emotions as they navigate the wilderness and each other. 

If you're into weird-cosmicy-emotionally driven stories, you'll love getting lost In the Valley of the Headless Men. 

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