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A beautifully crafted, devastating short fiction collection from the Bram-Stoker finalist and author of Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke and Other Misfortunes.
Eight stories of literary dark fiction from a master storyteller. Exploring the shadow side of love, these are tales of grief, obsession, control. Intricate examinations of trauma and tragedy in raw, poetic prose. In these narratives, a woman imagines horrific scenarios whilst caring for her infant niece; on-line posts chronicle a cancer diagnosis; a couple in the park with their small child encounter a stranger with horrific consequences; a toxic relationship reaches a terrifying resolution…
Originally published under the title The Strange Thing We Become and Other Dark Tales, this is a much-praised collection of deeply unsettling, painfully dark tales.
In 2021, Eric LaRocca published two books. One was the novella Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke and one was a short story collection called The Strange Thing We Become and Other Dark Tales. Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke became a viral hit, and the little novella from WeirdPunk Books made Eric LaRocca a hot new author, and a household name in horror fiction. Titan Books picked up the rights to both of these 2021 releases. Last year saw an expanded edition of Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Spoke, and this year sees the rerelease of The Strange Thing We Become and Other Dark Tales as The Trees Grew Because I Bled There.
When I started to see the hype about Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke, I decided to read it, and I was a little underwhelmed, like the hype was bigger than the story. I did find the novella well written and some of the scenes were very creepy, but the story did not do much for me. I knew at that time that Eric LaRocca is very talented and so I decided to try again with The Trees Grew Because I Bled There. This collection showcases the great talent in Eric LaRocca’s writing. All of the best elements of Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke are here but with stories that I enjoyed more. There is so much style and so much daring storytelling that I could not wait to see what adventure the next story was going to put me through.
Almost every story could be my favorite story, depending on my mood “Bodies Are For Burning” is about a woman who is watching her niece and cannot stop thinking about burning things, including her niece. “You’re Not Supposed to Be Here” is about a deadly game of telling the truth. “The Trees Grew Because I Bled There” is about a love affair that is much more intense and terrifying than Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke. This entire collection is like one of those albums that you can listen to over and over again without skipping any of the tracks. It is just that good.
I think that my favorite today is the original title story, “The Strange Thing We Become” about a person who is asking for advice on an online forum. This story reminded me of Dennis Cooper’s novel, The Sluts, and honestly reading through this collection, I can see Eric LaRocca’s writing being compared to Dennis Cooper. Both of them write deeply disturbing stories that really stick with you when you are finished, and both of them deserve all of the readership in the world. The Trees Grew Because I Bled There is the book that has made me a huge Eric LaRocca fan, and I will be following their career as they continues to grow into a horror superstar.
I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.