#ATBR2019 – Growing Things by Paul Tremblay

More from Tremblay for the #allthebookreviews duo!

Thanks to William Morrow for the free copies in exchange for our honest reviews

GROWING THINGS – Paul Tremblay (out now)

See our reviews for THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD here


Chandra’s Thoughts: 3.5/5 stars

I have a love/hate relationship with short story anthologies.  I have GREAT respect for authors who write these as I feel these are harder to write than the full novel as you’re putting an entire story together in under 7,500 words.  Those that do it well, do it WELL and those are the ones I like but I’ll be honest, it’s very few and far between where they get me.  I am one of those who prefer that full novel, or even the extended short story ala novelette/novella.  It’s hard to say I “want more” as I know this is something readers of short stories cringe at seeing when someone critiques these, but there’s definitely some truth to this saying… HOWEVER, I’ve come to realize that when I say I “want more”, it’s that the author has piqued my interest enough that I want more of the story – give me the ligaments and veins and bloody insides instead of just the surface flesh.  Either way, I’m EATING IT ALL UP.

Mr. Tremblay.. this is one talented horror writer.  As an avid reader of author’s notes and acknowledgements, I always tend to skim these before I start my reads and then fully read once I’m done. I am SO glad I did that with this collection as Tremblay gives us notes on most of the stories within. I LOVE these insights and I impress upon you to read these in tandem with the stories as you go. It give them a certain *umph*. Feeling squirrely? *wink*

Like with most anthologies, there are the stories that I loved and stories I didn’t quite like as much.  I will say that I did enjoy all the stories in this one – at various levels of course.  Some had my eyebrows in a continuous furrow while others left my eyes wide and mouth open. (Love the nod to Merry and Marjorie of Head Full of Ghosts.)  My favorites? Why thank you for asking.  “Nineteen Snapshots of Dennisport”, “Note from the Dog Walker” and “It’s Against the Law to Feed the Ducks”. And I absolutely loved the format of “A Haunted House is a Wheel Upon Which Some Are Broken” and “Further Questions for the Somnambulist”.

It’s hard to really discuss any of the stories without spoiling them outright.  I do think Tremblay is fantastic at ambiguity and I feel most short stories, including these, keep you thinking at the end.  Others are more subtly done while some pack a punch.  At the end of the day, while this is on the top of my list of short story collections to read, I think that maybe short stories in general just aren’t in my wheelhouse. And that’s ok.  You like what you like. Quack quack.

My Thoughts: 4/5 stars

If you’ve followed any of my reviews for awhile, then you’ll know that I’m a big fan of short stories, especially those in the horror genre. GROWING THINGS is a collection of 19 short stories, and I highly recommend reading the Author’s Notes in the back! As with all short story collections, there will be stand outs and I was pleasantly surprised that there were a lot that I really enjoyed.

The title story, GROWING THINGS, was eerie and a great way to start off the collection – mysterious plants that have taken over and knocking that won’t stop for sisters Merry and Marjorie (anyone read Head Full of Ghosts?) We get a wide variety of scares to keep you on your toes. Some hauntings, ghosts, devils, monsters, fears, some stories are morbid, and others examine different people and what they’re capable of. A couple others that stood out, and I know it was the same for other reviewers, were NOTES FROM THE DOG WALKERS, OUR TOWN’S MONSTER, and A HAUNTED HOUSE IS A WHEEL UPON WHICH SOME ARE BROKEN.

I honestly don’t think there was a bad one in this collection, which seems rare these days. I’m not surprised though because I love Tremblay’s writing. There’s a certain flow to it that just makes it so easy to cruise through the book without even realizing how far you’ve gotten. I can’t wait to see what he comes out with next for us!

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