T hat Which Grows Wild collects sixteen dark and masterful short stories by award-winning author Eric J. Guignard. Equal parts whimsy an...

Review || That Which Grows Wild by Eric J. Guignard

That Which Grows Wild by Eric J. Guignard cover
 That Which Grows Wild collects sixteen dark and masterful short stories by award-winning author Eric J. Guignard. Equal parts whimsy and weird, horror and heartbreak, this debut collection traverses the darker side of the fantastic through vibrant and harrowing tales that depict monsters and regrets, hope and atonement, and the oddly changing reflection that turns back at you in the mirror.

Discover why Eric J. Guignard has earned praise from masters of the craft such as Ramsey Campbell (“Guignard gives voice to paranoid vision that’s all too believable.”), Rick Hautala (“No other young horror author is better, I think, than Eric J. Guignard.”), and Nancy Holder ( “The defining new voice of horror has arrived, and I stand in awe.”)

Stories include:

• “A Case Study in Natural Selection and How It Applies to Love” - a teen experiences romance, while the world slowly dies from rising temperatures and increasing cases of spontaneous combustion.

• “Dreams of a Little Suicide” - a down-on-his-luck actor unexpectedly finds his dreams and love in Hollywood playing a munchkin during filming of The Wizard of Oz, but soon those dreams begin to darken.

• “The Inveterate Establishment of Daddano & Co.” - an aged undertaker tells the true story behind the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, and of the grime that accumulates beneath our floors.

• “A Journey of Great Waves” - a Japanese girl encounters, years later, the ocean-borne debris of her tsunami-ravaged homeland, and the ghosts that come with it.

• “The House of the Rising Sun, Forever” - a tragic voice gives dire warning against the cycle of opium addiction from which, even after death, there is no escape.

• “Last Days of the Gunslinger, John Amos” - a gunfighter keeps a decimated town’s surviving children safe on a mountaintop from the incursion of ferocious creatures… until a flash flood strikes.

Explore within, and discover a wild range upon which grows the dark, the strange, and the profound.

I love short stories. I find that great authors shine when presented with the limitations of a short story. You only have so many pages to explore a topic and I love that the really good ones always leave me yearning for more. Whether it's an anthology or a collection all by the same author, it gives you the ability to sample various themes and narrative styles.

Typically, a collection of this magnitude finds me relishing some stories and yet bored with others. In the case of That Which Grows Wild, I savored every one. Eric J. Guignard excels at the short story, molding each new location with care, and crafting vibrant characters in spite of the short season dedicated to each. With topics varying from spontaneous human combustion to Bigfoot and tones ranging from horrifying to whimsical, under each is a surprising fount of emotion.

A few of my favorites were:

The Inveterate Establishment Daddano& Co.- A Valentine's Day massacre gives a new meaning to "from dust we come and dust we will return" to a self-proclaimed old mortuary man.

Last Night... When the world stops turning on a full moon, we share the terror of a man at the last moments confined in a cellar while the werewolf apocalypse rages outside.

Footprints Fading in the Desert - As the only survivor of a Cessna 172 crash in the desert, hope is discovered in the form of fresh footsteps in the sand. As you relive the crash and her struggle to survive, the author takes you from desperation to hope and back again.

A Curse and a Kiss - A zombie-ish twist on the timeless Beauty and the Beast adds a unique element to this classic tale.

While I certainly had my favorites, what was most surprising about this collection is that there isn't one story that I actively disliked. I kept waiting for the moment that I would find myself bored and seek entertainment elsewhere, but that never occurred. I highly recommend this collection to fans wishing for more depth to their horror.

Eric J. Guignard is a writer and editor of dark and speculative fiction, operating from the shadowy outskirts of Los Angeles. He's won the Bram Stoker Award, been a finalist for the International Thriller Writers Award, and a multi-nominee of the Pushcart Prize. His stories and non-fiction have appeared in over one hundred genre and literary publications such as "Nightmare Magazine," "Black Static," "Shock Totem," "Buzzy Magazine," and "Dark Discoveries Magazine." Outside the glamorous and jet-setting world of indie fiction, Eric's a technical writer and college professor, and he stumbles home each day to a wife, children, cats, and a terrarium filled with mischievous beetles.