The Horror Honeys: Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub ~ 'We Are All Completely Fine'

Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub ~ 'We Are All Completely Fine'

Hardcover Honey Jocelyn's Book of the Week

We Are All Completely Fine ~ Daryl Gregory

How would you feel if I just dropped you into the middle of a review? No lead-up, no cute little intro, just BOOM... you’re midway through learning about these characters?  Would you like it? Hate it?

Make that decision now, because if you’re planning to read this week’s slim novel “We Are All Completely Fine," that’s the feeling you’re in for.  

We are thrown into a therapy group right away – introduced quickly to Harrison Harrison, the once-upon-a-time “Boy Hero of Dunnsmouth," “The Monster Detective." What is Dunnsmouth, you ask? Well, it seems to be a town he lived in once where things went really super-duper horribly wrong, but you’re going to need to do some reading between the lines on that. Harrison has just joined Dr. Jan Sayer’s group counseling session along with five other very mysterious people, including the middle-aged mom Barbara, old-guy-in-a-wheelchair Stan, twitchy young guy Martin, who never takes off his sunglasses, and Greta, a young girl who stays fully covered up from wrist to ankle. It’s unclear who is narrating as the narrator uses the term “we” frequently, but Harrison seems to be the putative hero of the book.

Author Daryl Gregory
Right away, we start to learn about these people and the things they have in common – each seems to have been the victim of a terrible crime – but not just terrible, supernatural in nature, or at least they think so. Stan’s missing pieces? He was a prisoner of the Weavers, a cannibalistic group of sickos who took parts bit by bit as he hung on a web of ropes on a wall for weeks. Martin? His never-removed glasses seem to let him see the evil creatures in the world, like a live-action game with high stakes. Although the official story is that a homeless man entered his shared home and killed his roommates, Martin knows there was much more to it, thanks to his trusty glasses. That middle-aged mom, Barbara?  Her story is vivid and her limbs striped with old scars thanks to The Scrimshander, who has opened Barbara up and carved pictures and messages into her bones. Her scars pale in comparison to Greta’s, though, who as a child was a member of a cult called The Sisters, who have inscribed intricate pictures with razors on nearly every inch of her skin.

Almost halfway through the book, we finally do get a clearer take on the mysterious town of Dunnsmouth, as the “NPR facts” are that the town was decimated by a tornado. In reality, far worse things happened there, and as one of the few survivors, Harrison made the mistake of talking to a pair of “paranormal investigators” in the hospital – they later spun his tales into a series of books and later still, a SyFy show that Harrison deems “unwatchable."

In a lot of ways, this book felt like a collection of short stories, or more so, short story characters who all overlapped in the group therapy setting. But Gregory does an admirable job of tying everyone together – when Barbara can’t stand the suspense anymore and commits suicide, the group finds that pictures of them are carved into Barbara’s bones, events years before any of them have met. Very chilling stuff.

Although Gregory’s slow parceling of some details did frustrate me, there was certainly enough here to recommend this book – some beautiful writing, some extremely memorable villains, and some third-act twists had me flipping pages well into the night. This book itself would be a terrific basis for an actual SyFy show – one that maybe even Harrison Harrison would consider watching.

Hardcover Honey verdict – 3.5 out of 5 carved up bones for this quick read

Have you read We Are All Completely Fine? What did you think?
Tell me on Twitter: @jbrivard