In continuation of my mini horror reviews and to make an attempt to keep up with some of the horror books I've been reading, today I am sharing my thoughts on Eric LaRocca's We Can Never Leave This Place. Part I featured a review for Waubgeshig Rice's Moon of the Crusted Snow, and you can find that one here in case you missed it.
Publication: June 24th, 2022
We Can Never Leave This Place is an intense peek at the life of a young girl and the difficult, perilous world she currently inhabits. I'm not sure how to summarize this story myself in a way that would make any more sense than the summary from the book, so feel free to have at that, but all I can really say is that this is about a young girl living with her neglectful mother in a dangerous world. When her mother decides to let in an unknown creature into their house, things begin to turn (even more) nightmarish for Mara.
What I liked: This was so very weird and I liked getting to explore this very messed up world created by LaRocca. There is a very visceral feeling I had while reading this and it wasn't exactly a pleasant feeling, but it was exactly what I would want from this book. This story presents some intense trauma responses to a parent-child relationship that is filled with neglect and toxicity, as well as to the environment they are surrounded by, and LaRocca turns this all into a horror quite unlike anything I've ever read. It's easy to see LaRocca's incredibly vivid imagination and talent at writing in We Can Never Leave this Place, and no matter how weird or difficult things ever felt to read, it was impossible to stop reading because the writing is so engaging on its own and I just had to know what would show up on the next page because there's really no way to know with LaRocca's stories.
What I didn't like: This wasn't much of a plot-focused story, but rather one that was more about Mara's personal journey with emotions and her current situation and mother. I don't mind books that aren't heavy on plot, but it didn't quite capture me quite as much as I initially expected it to. Because of the characters and creatures involved in this book and how they interacted, things felt almost frenzied at times in ways that left me feeling slightly lost or unsure of what was happening, and although I think this contributed in a great way to the atmosphere, I think it's part of what held me back from really loving this novella as much as I could have.
Overall, if you're looking for some intense horror that plays with a lot of difficult concepts and will really keep you wondering what deranged things is going to pop up next, then you should really pick up We Can Never Leave this Place–or, honestly, any of LaRocca's work should do the trick! :)