COME FORTH IN THAW
By Jayson Robert Ducharme
Available February 2021
Being a parent (and one that suffers from depression and anxiety), this novella pulled the floor out from under me several times.
For this story, Ducharme has created a fictional (American) version of the Suicide Forest from Japan. A mother has gone there in search of her depressed son, in hopes to save him from himself. However, there’s more to it than meets the eye. Unfortunately for me, I can’t say much of anything here without revealing secrets best learned in the moment of reading (and not early from a book blogger), but I will say I didn’t see it coming. In fact, I wasn’t even suspecting a twist; so when it happened, I was very pleasantly surprised. It helped strengthen the couple small things that felt weak to me, making them no longer an issue.
I really liked the Tinker. He had a personality to him that was creepy, and the way he was presented was very predatory and timeless. The Donneur Vie felt underdeveloped by comparison, but was still an interesting idea. I especially liked the location you see on the cover of this novella – there’s this place where people hang and there are pieces of them sewn into the trees. Very cool and very horrific!
For me, the second part to this story – after you’ve learned the trick to it – was more emotional and striking. Even though not much happens in it besides looking back at the past (and that final sequence of leaving the forest), those final chapters were what made the story come together for me in such a way that I was left haunted and anxious. I’m not an easy person to stoke an emotional response out of, so I know a story has done something right when I’m left in such a state.
Come Forth in Thaw marks my third novella from Ducharme, but it won’t be my last. This story will cause your heart to sink and your feet to kick up and run as the world drops from beneath you.
Highlights: Sets out to “elevate” the exploited setting of Aokigahara Forest (Japan’s “suicide forest”) … emotional and gripping … intense ending … unexpected plot twist … features a great enemy in the forest, as well some horrifying locations
Shadows: Parts of the end sequence felt a little weak, but not enough to ruin the finale … the Donneur View seems underdeveloped by comparison to the Tinker
FFO: Emotional horror … stories about overcoming depression and surviving great loss
Takeaway: Ducharme flexes his writing muscles with Come Forth in Thaw, an emotional and tragic story of horror that will both break and heal you.
Would I read this author again? Yes