Warning: spoiler alert! (Man, I really like to do this to you guys a lot, huh?)
Something tells me I have a thing for the macabre. My novella, The Lerewood, is a dark fantasy story about a wicked, vile creature and a cursed town, for starters. But when I think about the darker scenes of The Lerewood, I think about the ending.
It was a war between humanity and nature—we kill nature; it has no powers to get revenge. We take for granted what gives us oxygen and shelter, food and lumber. We don't give back, and the Lerewood forest fights for all the forests of the world. Corruption and death blooms; there is no beauty in Lerewood. Men pound the grass with their feet and swing their swords at trees, the axes cut up bushes until finally they bring out the torches.
~Excerpt from Chapter 10
In the last few pages of The Lerewood, a mob of bloodthirsty townspeople chase after the vile creature the townspeople believe to be evil, and a man who they deem a traitor, into the Lerewood forest. The chase turns violent when a battle ensues between man and nature, quite literally. The quite-alive Lerewood forest fights back against the townspeople, trying to protect their queen and protector. Townspeople use their axes and other weapons to attack the forest with all their might, while tree branches swing like baseball bats through the air and wrap around limbs, ripping them from some poor soul’s body. I’m actually pretty proud of myself with how horrifying the scene really is. Throughout the novella, I put a lot of effort into describing the forest as this spooky, rotting place where everything has a soul. In retrospect, I think I took inspiration from descriptions of Hell from Dante’s Inferno, as one reminds me of the other. But the ending definitely stands out, as it really highlights the aspect of the forest being alive, and that wasn’t showcased anywhere else in the novel. It’s like knowing your house is haunted but not really witnessing the horrors until they all happen at once. The scene actually reminds me a bit of Carrie by Stephen King as well, in that both stories save the worst horror scene until the very end—the final battle between town and forest, and the prom massacre. I won’t completely spoil the ending, but it isn’t a happy one for our story’s protagonists.
Maybe I just have a thing against happy endings. Maybe deep down, I don’t believe they exist, and that life will always have the upper hand, throwing another obstacle in your way to knock you off your feet. (Very telling, I know.) Maybe I think a horrifying ending is more interesting than a happy one. Maybe I like leading readers down a path in which they anxiously await peace for a hero that has lived through such tragedy…and then breaking their hope by never allowing that peace to come. (Anyone else read Gone Girl? Gosh, I hated that ending.)
I don’t remember why I chose such an ending for The Lerewood. It fit, I think; a happy ending didn’t seem proper for such a dark story. But when I think about the novel I’m working on now, I realize that I actually have a problem with allowing my characters to be happy. Again, I tell myself it doesn’t feel right. It’s not meant to be. What could that mean? Something to ask my psychologist, I guess.
Well. On that joyful note, you can read more about The Lerewood here if you haven’t read it already. If you have, thank you! And sorry if the ending made you angry!
Also, be sure to enter my Goodreads giveaway for The Lerewood! It’s still going on, and will be ending June 9. See my blog about the giveaway here.
~ Andrea Churchill
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