This Skin Was Once Mine: and Other Disturbances

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
May 2024
5 hours 45 minutes
THIS SKIN WAS ONCE MINE When her father dies under mysterious circumstances, Jillian Finch finds herself grieving the man she idolized while struggling to feel comfortable in the childhood home she was sent away from nearly twenty years ago. Then Jillian discovers a dark secret that will threaten to undo everything she has ever known about her father. SEEDLING A young man’s father calls him early in the morning to say that his mother has passed away. He arrives home to find his mother’s body still in the house. Struggling to process what has happened he notices a small black wound appear on his wrist. Then he discovers his father is cursed with the same affliction. ALL THE PARTS OF YOU THAT WON’T EASILY BURN Enoch Leadbetter goes to buy a knife for his husband to use at a forthcoming dinner party. He encounters a strange shopkeeper who draws him into an intoxicating new obsession and sets him on a path towards mutilation and destruction... PRICKLE Two old men revive a cruel game with devastating consequences...
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Nikolas P. Robinson

It seems appropriate that the first title I’m reviewing in June of 2024 is a title by a recently prolific and extremely talented LGBTQ+ author. This Skin Was Once Mine: and Other Disturbances is a collection of four unconnected stories that nevertheless work well together because of the common themes of relationships, secrets, and revelations that emerge as the tales are told. The title, also the title of the first of the stories, is emblematic of Eric LaRocca’s work, substantially longer than one expects a title to be, but so thoroughly captivating that it’s impossible to ignore. In the titular tale, we are introduced to Jillian Finch, who returns to her childhood home following her father’s death, only to discover that many of the things she thought she knew about her family and her former life are not quite how she recalls them. As hideous secrets are revealed to us, her traumatized psychology shifts her focus to things that are seemingly trivial by comparison. As she reflexively ignores the horrible things she endured and survived, we witness the residual effects of childhood trauma and the devastating ripples they have. The next story in this collection, Seedling, also deals with grief and mourning, as a son returns home to an emotionally distant father when his mother passes away. He discovers the wounds we carry with us, passed down from generation to generation, as hurt is revisited. And even as he and his father come to understand one another better than they ever have, it seems that the seeds germinating early in life have grown into cancerous wounds that might be impossible to heal. All the Parts of You That Won’t Easily Burn introduces Enoch Leadbetter as he attempts to find the perfect knife to satisfy his husband’s needs for an upcoming dinner party. Instead, he finds a secret and shameful obsession that consumes him, as he loses touch with who and what he was with startling consequences. In the final story, Prickle, we meet two elderly gentlemen as they come together for the first time in a long while. Worried that time may be limited, they play a cruel, sadistic game they once enjoyed. But as the challenges grow increasingly perverse, we’re forced to witness a shocking loss of humanity and decency. Each of these stories is spectacularly well-written and deeply immersive, which is truly the most insidious aspect of LaRocca’s storytelling. They remain with you long after you’ve stepped away, and you’re forced to move forward, knowing that there’s no sense in worrying about the innocence you lost along the way. Like the snake shedding its skin, there’s no reason to look back or to think, “This skin was once mine.” The narrations provided by Natalie Naudus, Andre Santana Michael Crouch, and Steven Crossley were spot-on. The perfect narrator was selected for each story, in my opinion. They made the tales feel more authentic and poignant. I don’t know how long it took to choose who would narrate the individual stories, but if it was a drawn-out process, it was worth every second of deliberation.

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