I stumbled across YOU’VE LOST A LOT OF BLOOD on twitter and bought the ebook on a whim. It was a total cover buy, because I’m a sucker for horror book covers that are a little… gross. I read it in one sitting, then immediately listened to the audiobook for THINGS HAVE GOTTEN WORSE SINCE WE LAST SPOKE and made Andee read it too so we could talk about it. So when Eric LaRocca asked for reviewers for WE CAN NEVER LEAVE THIS PLACE, I stopped dead and read the whole thing immediately.
Thanks to Eric LaRocca for the eARC of this book. It has not affected my honest review.
About the book:
A precocious young girl with an unusual imagination is sent on an odyssey into the depths of depravity. After her father dies violently, young Mara is surprised to find her mother welcoming a new guest into their home, claiming that he will protect them from the world of devastation and destruction outside their door.
What did I think?
This is really difficult to review because I think it’s best approached almost entirely blind. I highly recommend looking up the content warnings for this one – as with all of Eric LaRocca’s work – because he doesn’t flinch away from dark and horrifying topics in his horror. I’m pretty resilient, preferring my horror as grotesque as possible, and I still think that I have had a visceral shudder reaction to every single one of his novellas that I’ve read so far. It’s no understatement to say that Eric LaRocca is an insta-buy author for me now.
In only 100-ish pages, WE CAN NEVER LEAVE THIS PLACE is claustrophobic and grim, with a teen girl living in some kind of dystopian (? war-torn?) society. I’m not sure what, exactly, and that felt very intentional. We only know what Mara does – the walls of her home with her murdered father and her cruel mother. The setting is flooded with filth and creepy crawlies, and I found myself desperately hoping that the story would end – just so Mara had the faintest hope of getting some peace. The writing is both macabre and fantastical, a kind of fairy-tale that makes the worst of the Grimm tales look child-appropriate. I think this is guaranteed to be one of those stories that I find myself thinking about over and over again.
At first I was confused, though no less engaged for it, as I was fed tidbits of explanation and moments of clarity more horrifying than the fantasy. That confusion was incredibly atmospheric and I think made this an even more enjoyable read. It built up to an ending that hit me like a gut punch, and one of the most spectacular moments of awful realisation that I have ever experienced while reading. This novella is a raw, violating fever dream without a single wasted word, and I’m awed at the fact that this isn’t just a spectacular piece of horror but a spectacular piece of technical writing too. If you like horror and you’re not reading Eric LaRocca’s work yet – it’s time to start.
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Release Date: 24th June 2022