We Can Never Leave This Place by Eric Larocca [Book Review]


The admin team at Lit in the Dark Book Coven have long been fans of Eric LaRocca’s work, so we were ecstatic to receive eARC copies of WE CAN NEVER LEAVE THIS PLACE. This novella is another example of the range LaRocca has as an author, playing to his strengths of making readers uncomfortable as only one of the many visceral reactions you’ll have. We are pleased to say, we weren’t disappointed! 


Author: Eric LaRocca

Publisher: Trepidatio Publishing

Pub Date: June 24, 2022


“When you’re given a gift, something else gets taken away.”

A precocious young girl with an unusual imagination is sent on an odyssey into the depths of depravity. After her father dies violently, young Mara is surprised to find her mother welcoming a new guest into their home, claiming that he will protect them from the world of devastation and destruction outside their door.

A grotesque and thrilling dark fantasy, We Can Never Leave This Place is a harrowing portrait of inherited grief and familial trauma.

About: Literary Dark Fantasy with horror aspects, character-driven, medium-paced

WE CAN NEVER LEAVE THIS PLACE by Eric Larocca book cover

Roxie Voorhees

 “She’s a storyteller.”

 “Just another word for ‘liar’.” 

Mara, a pale pink rose in a garden of webs, loses the only person she cares about and is forced to cohabitate with a woman that hates her. Here, Mara, is the author, crafting a narrative as if knitting a baby blanket. She weaves in pieces of herself through metaphor and simile but the impact is nothing arbitrary. This is one I will definitely visit again and again, welcoming it to haunt my dreams. 

LaRocca is a gift from the horror gods—the second coming of horror—a horror revolution and I am dancing in the street. Written with decisive intellect, Eric is the keeper of the Roxie Thesaurus, hand picking every single word with purpose and perfectly placing them in order just for me. He is a master wordsmith, wielding syllables into weapons and their usage of language should be illegal or at the very least considered light coercion. I’m devoted.

If his goal is to ensure I never stop speaking about their work, he’s succeeding! Character-driven, smart, sharp, unforgiving—oh, a mom touching her cunt in front of her daughter makes you uncomfortable? Too fucking bad—art is meant to be felt.


Melissa Nowark

“From baby teeth to virginity, to live is to regularly suffer loss.”

Mara knows loss. She lives in a war-torn area of the world, consistently losing pieces of her home and any life she knew before. The apartment is falling apart, there’s sewage seeping into the floors, and the water doesn’t work.

But when her father’s body is dropped on her doorstep, she feels the full force of her grief. Mara loved her father—her mother always resented her birth, and she took solace with her father. Now that he’s gone, her life, and reality as she knows it, starts to unravel.

My first LaRocca read was Starving Ghosts in Every Thread, and I was blown away by his creativity. I’ve since also read Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke, and along with We Can’t Leave This Place, I want to take a little tour of what goes on in their head. I’m sure it’s like a fever dream; part Hellraiser, part Jacob’s Ladder. LaRocca is a much-needed breath of fetid air in the horror community. When things feel stale, they throw in a little bit of their creativity and shake up the whole genre.

Don’t miss out on Eric LaRocca. He’s going to bring some great things to the community.

Thank you Eric for allowing me to read this novella early! 

*quote from uncorrected ARC and may be subject to change

content warnings: death of a parent, rape, blood/gore, miscarriage, pregnancy/birth, animal death.

WE CAN NEVER LEAVE THIS PLACE by Eric Larocca promo image

Richelle Gentry

“𝗙𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗯𝗮𝗯𝘆 𝘁𝗲𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗼 𝘃𝗶𝗿𝗴𝗶𝗻𝗶𝘁𝘆, 𝘁𝗼 𝗹𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗶𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗿𝗲𝗴𝘂𝗹𝗮𝗿𝗹𝘆 𝘀𝘂𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗿 𝗹𝗼𝘀𝘀. 𝗛𝗼𝘄𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿, 𝗜 𝘀𝗰𝗮𝗿𝗰𝗲𝗹𝘆 𝗲𝘅𝗽𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗹𝗼𝘀𝗲 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗜’𝘃𝗲 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗹𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗱 𝗶𝗻 𝗮 𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴𝗹𝗲 𝗺𝗼𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁.”

Hey! First, read for me in months. I thought I was completely done with horror. Then the chance to review Eric Larocca’s new book came up and I couldn’t pass this up. His storytelling is original, unique and deep. He never misses and never fails to blow my mind. 

A story of a young girl in war times answers the door to strange men who have brought her father’s body home. All that’s left is her and her mother. There is so much left unspoken between them that needs to be worked out and some creatures have come to help. 

😬 No one warned me about the spider. So I’m warning you, they always give me the heebee-geebees.

😬 very grotesque scenes and descriptions that will make your stomach churn. 

😬 The underlying symbolism to the situation and the creatures just blew my mind. 

😬 The ending I kind of saw coming but definitely not in that way. 

“𝗜’𝗺 𝘀𝗼𝗿𝗿𝘆, 𝘀𝘄𝗲𝗲𝘁 𝗴𝗶𝗿𝗹,” 𝘀𝗵𝗲 𝘁𝗼𝗹𝗱 𝗺𝗲. “𝗕𝘂𝘁 𝗜 𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝗵𝗼𝗽𝗲 𝘆𝗼𝘂’𝗹𝗹 𝗹𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗴𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝘀𝗮𝗰𝗿𝗶𝗳𝗶𝗰𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗺𝗲𝘁 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗴𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗴𝗶𝗳𝘁𝘀. 𝗘𝘃𝗲𝗻 𝘀𝗼𝗺𝗲𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝘀 𝗵𝗼𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗮𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀. 𝗜 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗺𝗶𝘀𝗲.”

It never fails. Eric’s stories have so much unspoken and underneath the words that hit you in ways, you can’t believe. I’m sure I can come up with so many sayings that would fit for different parts of this novella; “grief consumes us all”, “what goes around comes around” “Hardening resentment is poison to the soul”. I’m sure there are more but those are the ones that hit me the hardest with this story. I will be thinking about this one for a long time. 

genre: emotional/bizarre horror

Grace Reynolds

“What are you afraid of?” he asked. “Letting go or being left with nothing to hold?”

WE CAN NEVER LEAVE THIS PLACE by Eric LaRocca shares the tale of Mara, an adolescent living in a world of violence and poverty. Her father is dead and her mother seeps with disdain in every breath. As the world is quite literally crumbling around them, a stranger appears at their doorstep. He offers their family protection from the horrors of the outside world, but can he protect Mara from the monsters on the inside? 

In their latest novella, LaRocca shows us the range of their writing with this dystopian dark fantasy. What was more interesting to me, however, was how LaRocca imbued so much symbolism in their story to show how their main character processes trauma and grief through her skilled storytelling. It’s a great reminder of why the Horror genre is a perfect vehicle to confront topics that our society has difficulty addressing. 

Readers will be left feeling a sense of empathy for Mara and may be pleasantly surprised with an ending that they may not have expected. Aside from FANGED DANDELION, this might be LaRocca’s most emotionally impactful piece of writing to date. Dark, disturbing, and dare I say even hopeful at times, WE CAN NEVER LEAVE THIS PLACE is a must-read for 2022. 

Thank you, Eric LaRocca, for an e-ARC copy of your book in exchange for an honest review.

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