The narrator, Marlow, describes a journey he took on an African river. Assigned by an ivory company to take command of a cargo boat stranded in the interior, Marlow makes his way through the treacherous forest, witnessing the brutalization of the natives by white traders and hearing tantalizing stories of a Mr. Kurtz, the company's most successful representative. He reaches Kurtz's compound in a remote outpost only to see a row of human heads mounted on poles. In this alien context, unbound by the strictures of his own culture, Kurtz has exchanged his soul for a bloody sovereignty, but a mortal illness is bringing his reign of terror to a close. As Marlow transports him downriver, Kurtz delivers an arrogant and empty explanation of his deeds as a visionary quest.
When I got into this book, I couldn't put it down. So it's a bit outdated for today, but so what? You can still relate to it today, especially if you're me, a history buff. To think, people (more specifically 19th century British people) thought this way. Thought that they could do whatever they wanted to whomever is totally astounding. I got so angry that they went into Africa and declared it "theirs" with no regard to the natives whose land it really was. In today's society, they'd be called racist and a whole bunch of other things and probably would go to jail for their behaviour, but yes, it was a sign of the times.
This is the one novel that every horror reader, or any person who has a love of books, should have. It's considered to be the "Grandaddy of Modern Horror". I'd have to agree with that title. The book looks into man's darker side, the more primal and evil side of man. It's also said that what Mr. Kurtz has become can happen to any us of, even though we may consider ourselves "civilized". When tempted to do something, we'd be more than likely to do it.
Also, for those of you who didn't know, this book was made into many movies, the most recent one was made over two decades ago in the Vietnam War (and not Africa). Perhaps you've heard of it? It's called "Apocalypse Now".
Oh.. The Horror.. The Horror