I still remember the day I read Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke from writer Eric LaRocca. I remember how scared I was, how I was shaking, how I was on the verge of screaming. Few books have this kind of effect on me, so when I got the chance to read one of LaRocca’s new books, We Can Never Leave This Place,I just couldn’t say no. The surprising thing is that this new book didn’t make me feel that way. Its effects were a lot more subtle, a lot darker. I loved it.
We Can Never Leave This Place is the story of Mara, a girl that has just lost her father, and now has to live with her mother and her guest, a mysterious figure that has promised his protection from the violent world that took Mara’s father from them. In just a few days, Mara confronts the dark and terrifying environment that is growing inside the walls of her home.
The best way I can describe We Can Never Leave This Place is like a fable that went through a horrible experience and came out changed, or a Brothers Grimm fairy tale that really didn’t hold any punches back. This feels like one of those fantasy stories you tell your children, but instead of helping them go to sleep it would make them unable to sleep for the next few weeks. In a few words, We Can Never Leave This Place is like a nightmare come true.
LaRocca does a wonderful job of creating a fanciful but threatening atmosphere. Mara’s point of view lets the reader get into the fantasy elements of the story and her innocence makes the threats she confronts a lot more terrifying. The way she tells her story and the things she focuses on make this book so good. While the story in itself is great, the perspective of Mara is what makes it truly special. The character itself is amazingly constructed and it’s what first gets you into the story (the first chapter especially is one of the best beginnings I have read in a long time).
This is a book where nothing is what it seems. I never expected the turns the story took or the way characters acted. It kept me at the edge of my seat at every page and by the end of the book I was almost shaking. There are moments where I even started to feel safe, like things might turn all right… but those feelings quickly faded away. It was like a really sweet and tasty poison, it never felt like too much, but by the end my heart was broken.
We Can Never Leave This Place cements Eric LaRocca as one of the best contemporary horror writers, but especially it shows his versatility in the genre and his ability to create the perfect atmosphere for the story. This book is a must read for any horror fans, especially for those looking for something new.
We Can Never Leave This Place by Eric LaRocca is available today at your local independent bookstore or wherever fine books are sold.
If you enjoyed Cass’ review, check out more here:
Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak
Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
Crash Course: Franz Kafka