Hi, lovelies. Here’s my month in books, movies, television, and games.
When I purchased Eric LaRocca’s Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke and Other Misfortunes, the cashier paused to tell me, “This one’s messed up.” Having now read the three stories in this horror collection, I can heartedly agree with the cashier’s sentiments.
In the titular novella, two women meet online and begin a deeply intimate relationship that unveils their darkest desires. Written through emails and chat transcripts, the story shows just how far we are willing to go to obtain the love of others. It’s a captivating and disturbing exploration of human desire.
The following two stories further explore the depths people are willing to go to achieve approval and acceptance from the people around them. “The Enchantment” is the story of a couple who agree to be caretakers on a remote island, until a stranger suddenly appears by boat, shattering their solitude. In “You’ll Find It’s Like That All Over,” a man attempts to return a lost item to a neighbor only to find himself caught in an increasingly harrowing series of wagers.
This is a powerful and unsettling collection of stories — and I loved it. I’m looking forward to seeing more work from LaRocca.
In The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, Silvia Moreno-Garcia provides a retelling of the classic H.G. Wells tale, The Island of Doctor Moreau, bringing the story to the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico. Dr. Moreau and his daughter, Carlota, live in an isolated and remote estate, where the doctor performs experiments to blend human and animal into intelligent hybrid creations. Other than the hybrids, the only other companion that Carlota has known is the alcoholic overseer, Montgomery Laughton, who is escaping the ghosts of his past by finding sanctuary at the estate.
Carlota loves her sheltered existence on the estate, which from her perspective is perfect in every way. However, her world is jolted when the handsome son of her father’s patron comes to stay for a visit and begins making overtures of love.
This is another phenomenal novel from Moreno-Garcia. I love her choice to tell the story from both Carlota and Montgomery’s points of view and how she builds the relationships between them and the strange family housed on the estate. It’s also a gorgeously wrought world, weaving elements of Mexican culture and history into the tale. I love it.
Andrea Gibson’s Lord of the Butterflies is a gorgeous collection of poetry that explores gender, mental health, American culture, love, and relationships with wisdom and compassion. Her work is lyrical and moving, and this will likely be a collection that I’ll return to again and again when I need something uplifting.
“The heartbeat is actually the sound made
by the heart valves closing.
If you, my love, ever hold a stethoscope to my chest,
I will tell you to listen for the silence in between.
What is and what will always be yours
is the sound of my heart
Writing for Games: Theory & Practice by Hannah Nicklin is a fantastic book for anyone interested in delving into writing stories and developing narratives for games. She provides a solid theory for storytelling and story structures and how these basic elements fit into the development of games. I love that Nicklin also thinks about the various ways in which people learn by including case studies, and a practical workbook with exercises designed to allow the reader to apply the knowledge they gleaned.