A good story evolves, develops, grows into an adventurous journey that the reader can become absorbed in and think about long after the last page is turned. And that’s just what the book That Which Grows Wild: 16 Tales of Dark Fiction by Bram Stoker Award winner Eric J. Guignard does for the reader. Soon to be published in Spring of 2018 by Horror and Dark Suspense connoisseurs Cemetery Dance, this fresh collection of short stories will introduce readers to the broad range of vision author Guignard presents and the multiple voices his characters embody.
Many of these stories are more compelling than the archetypical horror tale. From bleak imagery and insidious plots to subtly whimsical dialog, it becomes evident to expect the unexpected. The element that stands out most across the spectrum of work included here is Guignard’s innate ability to open each story with gripping prose that immediately grabs your attention while setting the darker tone for the rest of the story. Granted some of these introductions are a bit cryptic at first, but rest assured, the reader will be quickly drawn in, making it difficult to let go as the story develops.
Heck, the first installment A Case Study in Natural Selection and How It Applies to Love begins with the narrator’s description of watching somebody burst into flames. Presented more as a casual account rather than a shock-and-awe slap in the face, the reader is awkwardly put at ease with just enough weirdness to always keep you on edge.
As for quirkiness, such as in A Quaint Ol’ Bigfoot Tale where a child is asking his grandfather about a missing hand, it is not clear if the reader is supposed to laugh or gasp at this, but the scene is perfectly placed an we know something terrible happened, leaving little doubt that more strangeness will follow.
The titles alone are enticing draws. The sixteen pieces include:
A Case Study in Natural Selection and How It Applies to Love
Last Days of the gunslinger, John Amos
Footprints Fading in the Desert
The House of the Rising Sun, Forever
The Inverterate Establishment of Daddano & Co.
Those Who Watch From On High
A Curse and a Kiss
Whisper of the Earth
A serving of Nomu Sashimi
Certain Sights of an Afflicted Woman
A journey of Great Waves
A Quaint Ol’ Bigfoot Tale
Dreams of a Little Suicide
From an alternate theme in the guise of a classic song made popular by The Animals to a violent world of monsters being fought off by a gunfighter’s family, no two stories are alike. Readers are taken over the rainbow and listen to the sad ramblings of a love lost to carelessness. The author’s ability to write with the voice of many makes this assemblage seem more like an anthology than the work of a single contributor.
As the editor of previous anthologies (Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations, After Death), Eric J. Guignard has an obvious eye for amassing gripping short stories fandom will enjoy reading. Inevitably, not all of these tales will grab you with the same intensity. But more hit than miss, That Which Grows Wild: 16 Tales of Dark Fiction is a fine sampling of the author’s work and a good measure for fans who may be interested in future publications from Eric J. Guignard and Cemetery Dance.