Review: We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory

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Harrison is the Monster Detective, a storybook hero. Now he’s in his mid-thirties and spends most of his time not sleeping.

Stan became a minor celebrity after being partially eaten by cannibals. Barbara is haunted by the messages carved upon her bones. Greta may or may not be a mass-murdering arsonist. And for some reason, Martin never takes off his sunglasses.

Unsurprisingly, no one believes their horrific tales until they are sought out by psychotherapist Dr. Jan Sayer. What happens when these likely-insane outcasts join a support group? Together they must discover which monsters they face are within and which are lurking in plain sight.

Published by Tachyon Publications.


 

An eARC of this book was received from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


 

We Are All Completely Fine is a strange little novella.  Reading it, I had the constant feeling that there were perhaps a half dozen other books that I ought to have read first – one, really, for each of the characters who attend the support group.  Each of their stories was so vivid, so visceral, that I felt that there had to at least be a novel-length work behind each of them.

This fact alone speaks to the sheer power of Gregory’s writing.  For there are no novel-length stories (except, perhaps, in Gregory’s mind – though Harrison has his own novel now, Harrison Squared, which was written and released after We Are All Completely Fine) – there are only the pieces of story that we are given in this novella.  Harrison with his monster-hunting past, Stan half-eaten by cannibals, Barbara with her serial-killer-carved bones, Greta, branded all over by a strange cult and Martin, who prefers to view the world through videogame glasses.

This is a horror story, through and through, and it’s not going to be for everyone.  The horror fan in me was practically squealing with glee at the dark and twisted nature of each of the group’s backstories.  Barbara’s was the one that haunted me the most: imagine a serial killer opening you, carving secrets on your bones, then closing your skin, so you can never read the words.  I shiver, even thinking about it now.

Though the book is short, Gregory manages to flesh out all of the characters and their stories completely, and in a way that many writers of full novels cannot manage to always go.  And he also conveys all of this with some truly gorgeous writing.  I was hooked from the first sentence, and didn’t want to put down my Kindle until I was finished.

I am really happy that Gregory has given Harrison his own book, and I hope that some of the other characters might get the same at some point.  This novella pretty much has cemented me immediately as a fan of Gregory’s work, and I’m going to hope that he writes more of this strange, dark world.

Highly recommended to fans of horror.  Those who can’t do gore should probably skip this one.

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