We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory
The bleak, horrifying sequel to ‘Harrison Squared’. A shrink gathers together a group of damaged people in a support group. Harrison fought monsters as a teenager, Stan was partially eaten by cannibals and it is abundantly clear he’ll never get past it, Barbara was attacked by a monster and is deeply traumatised, Greta utters deliciously portentous warnings and is painfully haunted, shifty Martin has a grim sense of doom and is weirdly psychopathically lonely. The group tries to be warm and welcoming and utter comments, insight and soothing mantras. But it soon turns out that being a survivor is a hazardous occupation and the world is a dark and treacherous place. There is no forgiveness or joy, no way to offload misery and terrible scenarios are about to irrevocably alter their luckless lives, again. This was an excellent tale of people subjected to an unrelenting, dreadful barrage of horror. A grim sense of doom hangs over them and they have a total inability to live non-discordant lives in this excellent novella.
“He could still crank up a good rant.”
“I don’t need any more people coming at me with scalpels.”
“I want to see them coming for me.”
“She doesn’t seem to be in their lives. She’s watching them, like they’re on TV.”
“Who the hell still lives in a commune?”
“It looked like a hobo art gallery.”
“Just so it could walk around in our world?”
“Chanting was never good.”
“Worst outcome ever.”
In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
This thriller starts out promisingly but is pretty negligible in the end. Nora lives a drab existence and is surprised to receive an invitation to a long estranged friend’s hen party in the remote countryside. Against her better judgement Nora goes. Strangers hover suspiciously, things get boisterous yet discord reigns and then the wanton hedonism takes a darker turn.
This is a tale of counterintuitive dignity, mournful pride, lack of repentance, self-interest and people who don’t exemplify the meaning of the word contrition. The plot is a fanciful indulgence and is full of barmy ideas that leave one at the point of fatigue. This is an abject failure and the ’twist’ is done in no feasible way. I don’t care about Nora or the major contributory reason why she acts like a teenager.
“She shoots at them out of the French windows.”
“Clare’s not always the easiest person to be friends with.”
“She’s a couple of xanax away from re-enacting the shower scene in Psycho.”
“He looks tall and menacing.”