In this deeply haunting and moving story, Teddy, a woman who devours emotions, must fight her inner demons as she cares for her scorpion-venom-addicted mother. When she meets Kiiara and the two women initiate a relationship, dark secrets begin to rise that may just give Teddy more demons to battle against.
Published: Self-published (April 27, 2020)
Special specs: Sapphic mc, haunting atmosphere, eerie storyline, imaginative magical abilities
Readers I’d gift it to: Those who love uncanny stories pulled forward by compelling protagonists and evocative, ghostly atmospheres.
*My warm thanks to the author for the review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Halloween may be over but a memorable, creepy atmosphere lingers for more than for a season.
That’s why Horror transcends seasonal celebrations; it’s one of those genres that deserves to be explored all year long. Yes, fear is the mind-killer but it can also be an engine to explore our deepest emotions. In the words of an arguably great story “fear wakes you up”.
Eric LaRocca’s Starving Ghosts in Every Thread is one of those stories that wakes you up. It’s an intimate, metaphorical exploration of the ways we deal with guilt, pain, misery, and grief, and how they can destroy us and those around us. It’s a story full of tenderness, heartache, and the uncanny. A fast-paced novella that for its length is no less engaging, it gazes upon the dark pits inside a person with intimacy and temerity, and does not tread lightly.
So often I find Horror stories lean on gratuitous violence and gore to build up their substance, which tends to make me stay away from them. Yet I love Horror, not only for the fear it instills (that may say some strange things about me…) but the way it storms through dismal landscapes.
Starving Ghosts was everything I look for in a Horror story, and even though it did not shy away from violence, it seemed to me a violence that emerged as a sorrowful reminder of the power of choices and desires, and the way we can’t always right the wrongs in this world. It didn’t feel gratuitous or glorifying, it was simply a consequence of a deeply sad world. It made it even more significant whenever this anguish was confronted by moments of kindness and affection.
This story was gripping, a bit gross, suspenseful, unexpected, and fraught with vivid, aching imagery brought upon by Teddy’s metaphorical (and, in the book, creepily literal) eating of other people’s distressing emotions. LaRocca writes the instances where Teddy loses control of her hunger with such masterful evocation that you can see the tendrils of her hunger unwind beyond the physical. It’s alluring and entirely eerie.
The world through Teddy’s eyes is a haunting place, and life in her small town looking after her mentally ill mother, who is convinced the cure to her ailments lies in the scorpion venom she forces Teddy to procure, is not an easy one.
Our main character must battle her own shameful demons as she struggles to heal the most important person in her life, and that’s something I find will make this emotional novella a deeply relatable one. Even if Teddy’s struggles are too far-fetched for some readers to comprehend, she will tether you to them by ways of her ghostly, emotive narrative.
I couldn’t stop reading this book! It has an unsettling atmosphere, Teddy’s literal and metaphorical hunger to consume emotions in order to heal her own soul is beautifully written, and the ending is a tense affair that will quite simply leave its mark on you.
This was such a strong debut novella and it definitely made me add Eric to my list of absolute-read authors!
Possible trigger warnings:Violence, a bit of gore
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About Eric LaRocca
Eric LaRocca holds an MFA in Writing for Film and Television from Emerson College. His fiction has appeared in various literary journals and anthologies published in the US and abroad, such as Stiff Things and Year’s Best Hardcore Horror, Volume 2.
He is also the author of several plays which have been developed and produced at theaters across the country including Gadfly Theater Productions, Hartford Stage, La Petite Morgue, and Love Creek Productions.
Starving Ghosts in Every Thread is his debut novella.
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