Updated: Oct 6, 2022
Elementary school gym class, man those were the days. Back when you and all of your classmates got to play kickball, red rover, dodgeball, and tag. When we danced to the macarena and the electric slide. There was one activity though that topped all of the others, something that the gym teacher only pulled out of that forbidden storage room every so often. That folded up mass of multi-colored nylon that would unfurl into a parachute. I don’t know what it was about grabbing hold of that parachute and all of us throwing our arms up in unison, feeling the upward pull as the parachute filled with air, and then running underneath into a kaleidoscopic world of colors. It almost was, in an imaginative sort of way, like being transported to another place.
Author Holly Rae Garcia takes the notion of “another place” quite literally in her novella PARACHUTE. A close group of friends break into an abandoned elementary school for one last adventure together before going their separate ways after high school graduation. Stumbling upon a timeworn parachute and deciding to play with it for old times' sake things take an unexpected and terrifying turn. PARACHUTE warps what was once an innocent children's game into something unnatural and bizarre, like looking at your distorted reflection in a funhouse mirror. There is something recognizably familiar about it, yet oh so very wrong.
The seemingly innocuous parachute acts as a catalyst to transport anyone grasping on to alternate worlds that are simultaneously fantastical, beautiful, and deadly. These alien landscapes the group of teens find themselves within are not only environmentally dangerous but can be emotionally oppressive as well. This jumping from world to world was reminiscent of DARK MATTER by Blake Crouch for me, though Garcia’s style, presentation, and execution are utterly unique. There was an element of tension and anticipation, of being on the edge of your seat, every time the group lifted the parachute because we the readers did not know what to expect, knowing that absolutely anything was in the realm of possibility.
The ending of PARACHUTE is a bit ambiguous and abrupt, which I dug. It felt consistent with the rest of the story that has been told up until this point, of jumping in and out of these different worlds in the blink of an eye (or the drop of a parachute). Like we the readers have broken that one golden rule of never letting go and now we have been left behind, cut off. The ambiguity leaves the opportunity for Garcia to revisit this world(s) and characters (those whose hearts are still beating) again in the future if she so desires while also allowing the readers' imaginations to run wild picturing what horrible things may happen next.
A dark fantasy horror mashup. PARACHUTE by Holly Rae Garcia takes our nostalgic childhood memories and corrupts them with a dreadful sense of malevolence. Garcia’s imagination and creativity brilliantly shine through in this white knuckled, hold your breath, page turning thrill ride. I am a big fan of Garcia’s writing and am looking forward to reading whatever else she releases in the future.
I received an eARC of this book from the author for review consideration.
Author: Holly Rae Garcia
Publisher: Easton Falls Publishing
Publication Date: May 14, 2022
Format Reviewed: eBook