It’s been a little over two weeks since Christmas and for most of that time my kids were home on break from school. Needless to say I didn’t do as much reading or writing as I would when the house is quiet all day. That being said, I did manage to get six books read in that time period; SONGS OF A DEAD DREAMER AND GRIMSCRIBE by Thomas Ligotti, IN THE SHADOW OF FRANKENSTEIN: TALES OF THE MODERN PROMETHEUS edited by Stephen Jones, THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF CTHULHU edited by Paula Guran, THOSE ACROSS THE RIVER by Christopher Buehlman ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND STRANGE by James Markert and THEY DON’T COME HOME ANYMORE by T.E. Grau. One of my goals for 2019 is to read more short stories and I got a good jump on that already with three excellent books of short stories. In truth, I really enjoyed everything that I read these last few weeks. But the book that will stick with me the longest is T.E. Grau’s THEY DON’T COME HOME ANYMORE.
This novella, published by the folks at This Is Horror, is not terribly long but it packs a huge punch. There are some short books like this that beg to be read in one sitting and l believe this is one of them. But when that hour or two is up, you wish you’d read it a little slower to savor every nuance of the story. Unfortunately I read this book rather quickly and ended up spending just one evening in this incredible world.
This is a coming-of-age novella that revolves around a teenage protagonist, Hettie, and examines how she deals with the sickness and impending death of another student at her school, Avery.
I don’t want to spoil too much of the book because I want everyone to read this as soon as you get a few hours, but for me the best part of this story is the way in which Grau makes the darkness grow with each page. While the book is about sickness and death right from the beginning, it manages to get darker and darker as it pulls you along making you feel for Hettie and care about her search to help save her friend Avery. Just when I thought the book couldn’t get any darker, Grau manages to to take it one step further and push the story right over the edge and into the utter depths of darkness.
While the story makes you want to keep reading, the language is just as captivating and at times poetic. As with Grau’s novel I AM THE RIVER, also a favorite of mine, his use of language helps to create an atmosphere that keeps the reader moving through the story and almost unable to put the book down for very long.
The darkness, the weirdness, the story, the uncomfortable feeling this book gave me, the monsters and the payoff at the end are exactly what I look for in a horror story. All this being said I think it’s no surprise that this novella gets a five star review from me.