A heart-breaking tale of loss, corruption of innocence, terrifying monsters, and a plague of sorrow, For Emmy is quite possibly one of the heaviest stories I’ve read all year. How SanGiovanni packed so much into such a small book is completely beyond me. I was, and still am, floored by this one.
Sometimes no matter how vigilant you are, you can’t keep loved ones safe.
Dana McCluskey and her father know very well that there can be dangers around every corner. The wanted to keep Emma safe. But it is impossible to see some dangers coming. And there are those corners that you’d never see, out-of-the-way places just beyond our grasp where loved ones can get bery lost – and the danger there is very real indeed.
The entirety of the story is presented in first-person, making this account just that little bit more personal, and really setting the stage for an emotional read. When the reader gets to the actual account of how Emmy disappears, and what it does to the narrator, we can’t help but feel absolutely heartbroken by the severity of the hurt that she feels. I was almost convinced that I couldn’t press on, having 3 kids myself and being a very protective parent, but I feel fortunate to have done so. This story is brilliant and terrifying, not something I would have been content to miss.
As the story progresses, SanGiovanni doesn’t attempt to lift the overwhelming feeling of sadness from the shoulders of the reader. Instead, she adds more layers to it, bringing an even wider range of emotions to the forefront, but never letting on that there could ever a happy ending in sight. Her way with words in incredible, making every single sentence feel as if it weighs a thousand pounds. Even when there is a small amount of happiness to be found, SanGiovanni all but takes it away in a cruel game of literary give and take, with more emphasis on the “take”. The raw, emotional power that permeates this novella is incredible in its absolutely organic brutality. Once started, this story literally owns the reader’s soul.
Having read some of SanGiovanni’s work before, it’s become quite apparent to me that she really digs her monsters. Not only that, but she approaches the terrifying creatures from an innocent point of view, making them seem that much more fearsome and real. To introduce children as her main characters and then drop an ending on the reader like she does in this novella is just fantastic in its scope – the end result being far more terrifying than any adult themed horror could ever hope to be.
For Emmy is SanGiovanni’s masterpiece, in my opinion. This author has achieved, in one short novella, what many authors have don’t even with in longer pieces. The terror that she creates comes from deep down inside the reader. It’s not in-your-face, or gory. It’s already there, as you’ve probably already dealt with it in your life. SanGiovanni just knows how to pull it out and give it to you anew.
This piece of fiction stands apart from the crowd, never looking up from its shoe-gazing stance, but always able to creep out anyone who dares to come close.
For Emmy will be officially released at Horrorfind Weekend, taking place from Sept 2-4, in Gettyberg, PA, after which it will be available at Thunderstorm Books online. This novella will be released in both Hardcover and softcover formats. You can get ahold of Mary at her website.