Greetings from the Ether,
Leading up to the much-anticipated release of dark fiction writer T.E. Grau‘s novella I Am The River, The Gehenna Post is doing an exclusive review series of Grau’s two previous works, The Nameless Dark: A Collection and They Don’t Come Home Anymore (the article you are reading now). Once the review series is finalized, we will publish an interview with the critically-acclaimed author, spotlighting his upcoming novella from Lethe Press.
Without further ado, let us enter the abyss.
In an age where the media is filled with glittery vampires and poorly computer-animated werewolves, it is often difficult to trudge through the slush piles with the hopes of finding a frightening–or original–interpretation of these iconic monsters. Supernatural erotica in literature and Twilight-esque characters in films and television have made the gothic beasts of old an often reluctant premise for writers who aim to take the monsters and their origins seriously.
In They Don’t Come Home Anymore, author T.E. Grau not only offers a fresh spin on the concept of Vampires, but he also remembers one of the core themes of the gothic monsters: that being of obsession, whether it be romantic obsession with characters like Dracula, or a darker, more twisted obsession, as we see with the protagonist of the novella, Hettie. Grau presents Hettie early on as a normal girl with some social and familial anxiety, though throughout the story her evolution is evident, drawing dynamics and depth within her character that are rare to be seen in most modern literature.
In the novella, Grau channels Stephen King’s early work. He often crafts a coming-of-age tale with Hettie’s transformation while also offering original and thought-provoking concepts when concerning the Vampires that Hettie so fervently seeks throughout the duration of the piece. Hettie is difficult not to root for as a character, Grau’s poetic and sometimes disturbing language strengthening the backbone of her universe and all who inhabit it. The cautionary tale is at times exciting, terrifying, hopeful, and deranged, constantly bouncing between themes with powerful writing that does not allow any separation of attention from the readers who travel with Hettie as she tries to save her friend, Avery, from certain death.
The dark obsession that Hettie has–what is the soul of They Don’t Come Home Anymore–reminds readers that even themes that have been butchered by mainstream entertainment, still hold the chance to be reinvigorated. While T.E. Grau‘s first collection held more breadth and expanse with its consistently-shifting themes, They Don’t Come Home Anymore easily stands on its own pedestal of remarkable quality. The world breathes with each sentence, the characters are described in details that never become overbearing, allowing the reader to visualize them into permanence, and the story is told upon foundations that rekindle our desires to see displays of human nature in literature.
Dark Fiction’s most promising young voice once again delivers with a novella that will surely not soon be forgotten.
T.E. Grau is the author of dozens of stories and other written works, including the books They Don’t Come Home Anymore, Triptych: Three Cosmic Tales, The Lost Aklo Stories, The Mission, and The Nameless Dark, which was nominated for a 2015 Shirley Jackson Award for Single-Author Collection, and ranks as the bestselling book published by Lethe Press in both 2015 and 2016. His most recent work is the novella I Am The River, which will be published in late-2017 by Lethe Press. Grau lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter, and is currently working on his second collection and first novel.
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