Paul Tremblay first appeared on my radar with his book A HEAD OF FULL GHOSTS. Then came DISAPPEARANCE AT DEVIL'S ROCK, which really impressed me. He followed that up with CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD, which broke my heart. Now, here he is with a solid collection of stories that I ADORED.
GROWING THINGS is a hefty volume of tales, mostly told already in other publications, but they were almost all new to me. Among them, these stood out the most:
HER RED RIGHT HAND Something about this tale grabbed my imagination. There is a surprise well known figure comic figure within, but for me it was the young artist drawing the story that affected me the most.
NOTES FROM THE DOG WALKERS seemed like an experimental form of story telling to me, and as such, I was carried along from the normality of the day to day dog walker down into the heart of madness. This tale totally worked for me and I wanted to applaud when I finished.
NINETEEN SNAPSHOTS OF DENNISPORT Here is another story in which the way the tale is related is different and fascinating. Who doesn't sit down with their vacation pictures at some point or another? It's within these types of normal situations where Mr. Tremblay really shines. He takes those normal day to day things and twists them around...it's really something to see.
WHERE WE WILL ALL BE Here we find another experimental tale and once again, it worked quite well. A young man wakes up and finds his parents confused and talking nonsense about how they all have to go "where we will all be." That's all I'm going to say because I don't want to ruin it, but I find myself still thinking about Zane and his family.
THE ICE TOWER I don't know what the heck was going on in this story, at least not for sure, but once again, Mr. Tremblay wove his spell around me, and I was immediately entranced.
A HAUNTED HOUSE IS A WHEEL ON WHICH SOME ARE BROKEN A tour through the home where you grew up with your family. Top that with a "Choose your own adventure" feel and you have this unique tale that turned around within itself and surprised me.
IT WON'T GO AWAY A few days after his brother's suicide, a man receives a letter from the deceased. Once again, the story twists and turns and before you know it, you are miles away from where you started.
I guess I'll leave it off here because I'm discovering that I can go on and on about this collection.
Usually, weird fiction doesn't work that well for me. While I can appreciate and enjoy ambiguous stories, certain authors considered masters of the form leave me a bit cold. (Robert Aickman, I'm looking at you!) I am unsettled by and enjoy the work of Tom Ligotti, but it often comes across as too nihilistic for my tastes. In this volume, Paul Tremblay appears to master the form, but in his own unique and brave style.
That's not to say this collection features only weird tales, because it doesn't. What it does feature is an author willing to experiment with all different types of dark fiction and nearly every one of them was a beauty to behold!
My highest recommendation!
*Thank you to Edelweiss, NetGalley, and to William Morrow for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback.*