Having read Horror Library Volume 6 recently, Eric J. Guignard proved himself a talented editor and publisher. Now, with this collection of short stories in That Which Grows Wild: 16 Tales of Dark Fiction, this reviewer can confirm that he is also an incredible writer and storyteller.
Short stories do not provide writers with much room to develop a narrative and a cast of characters that readers are going to be interested in reading; however, these 16 tales document Guignard’s natural ability to engage the reader to care about each character and want to know what happens to them. He achieves this in three ways. First, he develops intriguing characters that are flawed, yet fascinating. They ring as being uniquely true; they could easily be individuals that we might meet as we go about our own lives. They face challenges and explore issues of morality on our behalf as we consider, from the comfort of our chairs, what our response might be if faced with the same situation.
Secondly, in each story Guignard explores the concept of “wild” through the locales. He has created locations that are desolate – the wild west, the lonely bayou, the desert, from an aerial point of view – but he has also taken the familiar urban environment and made it into his own sandbox filled with dark, scary things. Guignard deftly conveys just enough descriptive details to excite the reader’s imagination to add in their own details and flesh out the canvas that he has started. Hence, the reader is invested in the story and riveted to learn what happens next.
Lastly, Guignard weaves magic through his writing style. Through his word choices and use of metaphors and similes, he creates a beautiful narrative tapestry of vivid images and fragile emotional experiences. He has an incredible talent for dropping in what seems like an incidental detail or story flavor that turns out to be a crucial third act element. And, he is able to change his voice in each story; each character has their own unique voice.
Here is a sneak peek – no spoilers – to each story:
“A Case Study in Natural Selection and How It Applies to Love”
The temperatures have warmed up considerably, drying out the water supply and slimming out the population. Darwin’s theory of natural selection goes up against Kenny, who happens to like a girl named Liz.
“Last Days of the Gunslinger, John Amos”
A gunslinger becomes protector to several children from town as they hole up in the Arizona mountains against large insects; however, a storm is brewing and headed their way.
A dying mother is cared for by her youngest surviving son. She wants to make amends with a last wish, but will her son help her?
“Footprints Fading in the Desert”
Socialite Lisa, her husband, and the pilot crash in the desert. As the sun rises on the third day, Lisa notices footprints leading off. She decides to follow in hopes that she will find assistance or at least not be alone in the desolation of the aftermath of the crash.
“The House of the Rising Sun, Forever”
Lincoln Brown could be any one of us. How does Lincoln face his weaknesses? How do we?
“The Inveterate Establishment of Daddano & Co.”
Chicago. The days of Al Capone and the Valentine’s Day massacre. We know the story from the film, but a lone witness is singing a different tune.
What would happen if the Earth stopped revolving, leaving people in a perpetual darkness – the only light a full moon…oh and werewolves exist?
“Those Who Watch From On High”
A drone pilot becomes too attached during a surveillance mission.
Sometimes, everything can change in an instant.
“A Curse and a Kiss”
A re-imagining of the well-known beauty and the beast story.
“Whispers of the Earth”
On the tenth anniversary of a tragedy that took the lives of several citizens, unnatural sinkholes appeared throughout the town. Survivors hear the whispers of dead loved ones coming from the depths of the holes.
“A Serving of Nomu Sashimi”
Terry cannot catch a break with his sales figures; however, the three other salesmen are doing exceedingly well. One night, he gets asked to join their group and learn their secret.
“Certain Sights of an Afflicted Woman”
It is 1918 and the year of the great epidemic. A young woman with an eye infection is able to see things she would rather not.
“A Journey of Great Waves”
Kei, a survivor of a tsunami that took her family, finds a doll that washed up on the beach where she lives with her extended family. She has a nagging feeling that the doll is somehow familiar.
“A Quaint Ol’ Bigfoot Tale”
A grandpa relates the story of running into a Sasquatch back in 1899.
“Dreams of a Little Suicide”
A little person seeks a better life when offered to play a munchkin in The Wizard of Oz. He meets a seamstress and falls in love, but Hollywood is known to be cruel and fickle.
Eric Guignard crafts storytelling into a timeless masterpiece. That Which Grows Wild: 16 Tales of Dark Fiction is a brilliant collection of haunting stories that will captivate readers that relish dark fiction. Each tale is a unique story that is eerily dark, as it explores human nature and the outcome of decisions made. Guignard excels as a short story writer by bringing together characters that capture the reader’s attention and locales with just enough details to spark the reader’s own imagination to fill in the gaps. He has a skill with words and an ability to create unique narrative tones and voices. As a result, he does a magnificent job of delivering stories that will linger and haunt readers long after they have finished the book.
Creative Team: Eric J. Guignard (author)
Publisher: Release to be announced soon.