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Literature / Eden Green

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Eden Green is Fiona van Dahl's first published novel, released through Amazon Kindle and Audible under 'science fiction' and 'horror'.

Eden is a rational, reliable person who tries to keep her life as simple and organized as possible. When her best friend Ron disappears for a while, then reappears with a creepy new boyfriend named Tedrin, Eden thinks it's just more of the usual drama... until she learns that Ron has been infected with an alien needle symbiote that keeps her alive no matter what. Things get worse from there, as needle-monsters begin to infest their city.

Most of the book covers Eden's semi-scientific experiments on the symbiote, sometimes involving her own body. But occasionally, to ensure her own survival, she has to take a shotgun to a needle monster or ten.

The author has since started a free online serial, City on the Edge of Nowhere, recapping the events of Eden Green from the perspective of a reporter affected by events.

The sequel, New Night, takes place nine months after the events of Eden Green.

The novel contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Abandoned Area: Since the city of Gothic is going through a decade-long recession, there are many abandoned warehouses and other areas in which the needle monsters nest. When Eden crosses over to the other side of the portals, she finds an entire Ghost Planet.
  • Actually Not a Vampire:
    • When Tedrin tells Eden about how he resurrected Veronica:
      “She was fighting for her life, clutching my hand like she knew I could save her. ... When she stopped breathing, I knew what I had to do.”
      When utterly baffled, go for a joke. “And then you bit her neck and sucked out all her blood, right?”
      He blinks at me, looking genuinely annoyed. “Vampires? Really?”
      My hands go up. “Hey, I’m just working with what you’re describing.”
    • Later, when Eden warns Tedrin not to hurt her friend:
      “Let’s just say I keep a shotgun around for a reason. Doesn’t matter if you’re a Juggalo or an Edward Cullen wannabe.”
      He laughs, startling me. “You and vampires. You have some kind of obsession.”
  • Alien Invasion: When Eden is first brought in on The Masquerade, Tedrin has been killing off the occasional invading needle monster for a year. A few days later, the floodgates open and monsters pour into the city.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: Takes place in the fictional small college town of Gothic, Arkansas, an expy of the author's home city of Fayetteville.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Tedrin is the latest in Ron's gallery of boyfriends, which also includes an abusive Juggalo, a married man, and one whose psychotic girlfriend attacked her.
  • Backing into Danger: The title character explores an abandoned church in search of a harmless, herbivorous alien monster, and finds something terrifying. Then, while backing away from it down a dark hallway, she bumps into something even worse.
  • Battle in the Rain: Eden and Ron return to Earth on a motorcycle in the middle of a storm.
  • Big Ego, Hidden Depths: Eden makes a lot of the fact that her life is more stable than Ron's, yet she has no long-term career or college plans despite her intellect, no social life outside of her relatives and one friend, zero romantic interests or desires, and deep-seated insecurity and discomfort with the world.
  • Blank Slate: What happens when an infected person's original brain is destroyed.
  • Blessed with Suck: Eden's entire reaction to the parasite.
  • Break the Haughty: Eden is a self-important rationalist in a Lovecraftian horror story. Guess how that's going to go.
  • Breather Episode: At one point, Eden retreats from the horrifying warzone her city has become and spends a chapter cleaning her apartment and doing laundry.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Despite her intellect and biochemistry background, Eden works as a legal assistant and never mentions any college plans.
  • Bungled Suicide: Tedrin reveals that after he was first infected, he tried to blow his brains out, but his head grew back.
  • Content Warnings: In the front matter, the author includes a warning about triggering content (see top of page).
  • Cursed with Awesome:
    • Eden's complaints about being CURSED to grow back missing body parts often feels like this.
    • Ron, at least, seems to know how to have fun with the needles.
      Ron: Oh my God she has sword-hands that is so cool!
  • Death Amnesia: When Eden's brain is destroyed and rebuilt, no afterlife is shown, just the nightmarish process by which every one of her neurons is re-networked.
  • Death Seeker: Eden becomes suicidal shortly after being infected, and her goals tend to end with '... after which I'll find a way to destroy myself'.
  • Driven to Suicide: Eden is willing and even eager to sacrifice herself if it means destroying Tedrin and the alien monsters infesting the city. At one point, Tedrin asks Eden to permanently destroy him, so that he doesn't have to find out what happens when his brain is destroyed a second time.
  • Drugs Are Good: Eden and Ron regularly smoke marijuana together, including once in-story; Eden also smokes some (given to her by Ron) in the deer stand. However, Eden judges Tedrin for smoking cigarettes, and isn't too happy that Ron injected her with heroin to ease her transformation.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Lampshaded by Eden when Tedrin refuses to rape her despite ample opportunity. He instead tries to murder her.
  • Facial Horror: After Eden is infected, she describes the sensation of needles repairing her broken teeth, lips, and nose.
  • Flat Scare: Tedrin sneaks up on and startles Eden several times, and occasionally gets shot as a result.
  • Fold-Spindle Mutilation: When Eden's original brain is destroyed, she describes the process of each new neuron being formed as her entire self being crammed down into sub-atomic particles in a great crystalline structure the size of the universe.
  • Freudian Trio: While Tedrin is the violent, impulsive id and Eden forms the over-analytical super-ego, Ron's ego tries to balance the two and keep them working together with mixed results.
  • From a Single Cell: Tedrin strongly implies that the needles will keep their host alive no matter how they are destroyed.
  • Genetic Memory: The needles are able to rebuild the brain after it is destroyed, but with data loss.
  • Gollum Made Me Do It: Kazuma claims this of Tedrin (his needle symbiote's 'personality'), and by the end, is actively trying to fight off its murderous survival instincts.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Fighting the needle monsters is a dangerous job; Ron and Tedrin later state outright that they're better equipped for it than the military.
  • Improvised Weapon: Ron likes to battle using the severed limbs of her enemies, and both she and Tedrin use metal scraps and whatever other junk they find.
  • Indy Ploy: Ron and Tedrin's favorite way to do things. Later, as Eden succumbs to the symbiote, she becomes more rash and is forced to improvise non-ideal solutions on the fly.
  • Inscrutable Aliens: The mountain, with its long-abandoned chambers and untranslated writing, is a puzzle for another day.
  • Instant Mass: Just Add Water!: The needles (in human hosts) replenish their numbers after an injury by consuming water.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: Tedrin is later revealed to be a personality constructed by the needles after Kazuma's brain was destroyed. Eden also shows hints of a split toward the end.
  • Mage in Manhattan: A lot of Eden's initial planning involves keeping the monsters and infection a secret. The next morning, needle monsters destroy part of the city center and make international news. Also the theme of the related web serial, City on the Edge of Nowhere.
  • Miles to Go Before I Sleep: Eden eventually longs for permanent death, but first seeks to destroy Tedrin and save Earth.
    “I don’t want to hear your fucking excuses!” I shout in his face. I point back in the general direction of the portals. “We’re going back to Earth and stopping this invasion, and then after that, believe me, I’ll be next in line behind you for a goddamn mercy kill! When, and only when, no one else has to suffer for your fuck-ups!”
  • Minimalist Cast: Other than Eden's mother (on the phone) and boss (on the phone) and a single soldier near the end, the entire cast consists of Eden, Ron, and Tedrin.
  • Monster Progenitor: Eden plays with the theory that because Tedrin was the first human infectee, he may be stronger than those he infects.
  • My Blood Runs Hot: Fully-transformed human hosts have an elevated body temperature that, to an uninfected person, feels like an extreme fever.
  • Non-Human Undead: Needle monsters (infected 'animals' from the other dimension) are the original vectors for the needle symbiote.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The ledges on the mountain in the other world. Called out by Eden.
  • Only Sane Person: Eden is the first person to witness the needle symbiote in action and react with horror and disgust. She's also usually the only character with a plan.
  • Personal Horror: Eden most prizes her rationality and ability to solve any problem. Toward the end, after her brain is destroyed and rebuilt by the needles, she goes mute and insane.
  • Phlebotinum Rebel: Tedrin infects Eden thinking she will become an ally, find a cure, or even (as one reviewer put it) join his harem. She immediately makes it her mission in life to destroy him.
  • Power Born of Madness: Tedrin's needle-insanity often plays to his advantage, allowing him to fight without holding back and survive unwinnable situations.
  • Pulling Themselves Together: When Eden accidentally blows Tedrin's arm off, he holds it against his shoulder until the needles can stitch it back on.
  • Run or Die: The gang's reaction when they first encounter a swarm of exes.
  • Sanity Has Advantages: Eden versus Tedrin, though the latter also benefits from Power Born of Madness (see above).
    Tedrin knew about this great big curse that the needles bring with them. He was terrified that Ron and I would find out about his memory issues. He had no plan to mitigate or cope with his own loss, and he didn’t see fit to warn us ... In one morning of quiet preparation, I’ve conquered something that has weighed on him since his transformation. What other problems can I fix?
  • Scare Dare: Tedrin sends Eden into an abandoned church in search of a harmless, herbivorous needle creature.
  • Self-Mutilation Demonstration: The book opens with Ron punching sheet metal until her hands are crushed, bloodied — and rapidly healing.
  • Sensory Abuse: The audiobook interprets the scratch of Eden's infection as a long, irritating noise.
  • Southern Gothic: The author's modern take on the genre (an early draft name-dropped True Detective), even lending its name to the city of Gothic, Arkansas.
  • Stages of Monster Grief: The plot follows Eden through fifteen seconds of Denial and very quickly into Driven to Suicide. She spends most of the book in Defiance mode (with a focus on figuring out how to kill Tedrin) before landing in uneasy Acceptance. Tedrin, meanwhile, has staked out Betrayal for himself.
  • Staking the Loved One: Eden is fully prepared to destroy her best friend rather than let her live on as a needle infectee. Later, Ron makes a similar decision about Eden.
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: When Eden is infected, she immediately tries to kill herself using her own shotgun, and only stops when Veronica and Tedrin talk her out of it. Later, Tedrin asks Eden to use Mjolnir to permanently destroy him; suddenly uncomfortable with the idea, she demands that he stay alive until they've fixed all of his mistakes.
  • The Masquerade: Only Tedrin, Ron, and Eden are aware of the needle monsters taking up residence in the city (at first). Called by Veronica, a self-described troper.
  • The Nicknamer: Eden calls both Veronica and occasionally Tedrin by pet names, and comes up with her own special terms for each species of needle monster.
  • The Precarious Ledge: Tedrin leads Eden onto one in the other world.
  • The Sociopath: Tedrin (and called such by Eden several times). He uses, lies to, and manipulates both girls, is a thrill-seeker, thinks of himself as the hero savior of Gothic, and only ever expresses strong emotions (besides rage and pain) when Kazuma shifts to the forefront.
  • The Virus: The needles are spread through blood, though the host must be dead for it to take root.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: A needle-human, even once fully converted, is hard to tell apart from an uninfected person, other than their pinprick eyes and pointed fingertips.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: The last third of the book, after Eden's original brain is destroyed, suffers patches of disjointed weirdness.
  • Trapped in Another World: Eden is forced to remain through the night on the alien planet because she can't get back to the portals.
  • Torso with a View: At one point, Tedrin has a hole in his chest that Eden can see through.
  • Trans Tribulations: Eden carries some subtle discomfort and judgement against Veronica, insists on calling her 'Ron', and tells Tedrin that she has a 'secret' (which it turns out he is perfectly fine with). Near the end, Eden laments to herself that only now, thanks to the needles, does she understand how Ron could be so uncomfortable in her own body.
  • The Worm That Walks: Tedrin (and any other human made completely of needles). Later, when 'Kazuma' re-emerges, it's implied that 'Tedrin' is the survival-obsessed personality of the needles.