by Vera Hadzic.
(photography pictured is by Adritanaya Tiwari)
Sunny Vuong writes, “The forest is only wary of newcomers. It takes care of its own.”
These sentences capture the inescapable yet unspeakable eeriness of Vuong’s “Silent Blooms: A Cottagecore Horror Choose-Your-Own-Adventure”—where everything seems perfect, yet feels deeply wrong. The deer stare just a little too long—the cottage is a little too comfortable—and a not-so-subtle otherness is rooted far beneath the surface. Vuong’s prose unfolds delightfully as the reader picks their way through an intricate interlace of narrative, making choices and mistakes along with Hoa Tran, the protagonist.
This is a piece written with extraordinary care and attention to detail—from the colour of Hoa’s dress to the smooth melding of story paths to the symbolism of names and places, the shifts and tensions of “Silent Blooms” come together seamlessly. And along with her delicately crafted horror, Vuong’s mastery of image and description creates a world as vividly beautiful as it is unsettling. Just as dark callings reach for Hoa, this immersive story entangles readers and keeps them in its clutches long after they’ve reached the end.