counter create hit The Grimscribe's Puppets - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

The Grimscribe's Puppets

Availability: Ready to download

Contents (tentative): Thomas Ligotti is beyond doubt one of the Grandmasters of Weird Fiction. In The Grimscribe’s Puppets, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., has commissioned both new and established talents in the world of weird fiction and horror to contribute all new tales that pay hoame to Ligotti and celebrate his eerie and essential nightmares. Poppy Z. Brite once asked, “Are yo Contents (tentative): Thomas Ligotti is beyond doubt one of the Grandmasters of Weird Fiction. In The Grimscribe’s Puppets, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., has commissioned both new and established talents in the world of weird fiction and horror to contribute all new tales that pay hoame to Ligotti and celebrate his eerie and essential nightmares. Poppy Z. Brite once asked, “Are you out here, Thomas Ligotti?” This anthology proves not only is he alive and well, but his extraordinary illuminations have proven to be visionary and fertile source of inspiration for some of today’s most accomplished authors. List of tales: Livia Llewellyn “Furnace” [5,800] Daniel Mills “The Lord Came at Twilight” [3,950] Michael Cisco “The Secrets of the Universe” [3,360] Kaaron Warren “The Human Moth” [2,700] Joel Lane “Basement Angels” [2,697] Darrell Schweitzer “No Signal” [1,735] Robin Spriggs “THE XENAMBULIST: A Fable in Four Acts” [3,369] Nicole Cushing “The Company Town” [1,700] Cody Goodfellow “The Man Who Escaped This Story” [8,490] Michael Kelly “Pieces of Blackness” [3,750] Eddie M. Angerhuber “The Blue Star” [2,970] Jon Padgett “20 SIMPLE STEPS TO VENTRILOQUISM” [4,490] Mike Griffin “Diamond Dust” [4,900] Richard Gavin “After the Final” [3,100] Scott Nicolay “Eyes Exchange Bank” [9,050] Simon Strantzas “BY INVISIBLE HANDS” [6,200] Paul Tremblay “Where We Will All Be” [4,900] Ally Bird “Gailestis” [4,019] Jeff Thomas “The Prosthesis” [4,835] John Langan “Into the Darkness, Fearlessly” [10,499] Gemma Files “OUBLIETTE” [8,424]


Compare
Ads Banner

Contents (tentative): Thomas Ligotti is beyond doubt one of the Grandmasters of Weird Fiction. In The Grimscribe’s Puppets, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., has commissioned both new and established talents in the world of weird fiction and horror to contribute all new tales that pay hoame to Ligotti and celebrate his eerie and essential nightmares. Poppy Z. Brite once asked, “Are yo Contents (tentative): Thomas Ligotti is beyond doubt one of the Grandmasters of Weird Fiction. In The Grimscribe’s Puppets, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., has commissioned both new and established talents in the world of weird fiction and horror to contribute all new tales that pay hoame to Ligotti and celebrate his eerie and essential nightmares. Poppy Z. Brite once asked, “Are you out here, Thomas Ligotti?” This anthology proves not only is he alive and well, but his extraordinary illuminations have proven to be visionary and fertile source of inspiration for some of today’s most accomplished authors. List of tales: Livia Llewellyn “Furnace” [5,800] Daniel Mills “The Lord Came at Twilight” [3,950] Michael Cisco “The Secrets of the Universe” [3,360] Kaaron Warren “The Human Moth” [2,700] Joel Lane “Basement Angels” [2,697] Darrell Schweitzer “No Signal” [1,735] Robin Spriggs “THE XENAMBULIST: A Fable in Four Acts” [3,369] Nicole Cushing “The Company Town” [1,700] Cody Goodfellow “The Man Who Escaped This Story” [8,490] Michael Kelly “Pieces of Blackness” [3,750] Eddie M. Angerhuber “The Blue Star” [2,970] Jon Padgett “20 SIMPLE STEPS TO VENTRILOQUISM” [4,490] Mike Griffin “Diamond Dust” [4,900] Richard Gavin “After the Final” [3,100] Scott Nicolay “Eyes Exchange Bank” [9,050] Simon Strantzas “BY INVISIBLE HANDS” [6,200] Paul Tremblay “Where We Will All Be” [4,900] Ally Bird “Gailestis” [4,019] Jeff Thomas “The Prosthesis” [4,835] John Langan “Into the Darkness, Fearlessly” [10,499] Gemma Files “OUBLIETTE” [8,424]

30 review for The Grimscribe's Puppets

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sirensongs

    Thomas Ligotti has long been one of my favourite authors. I was first drawn to his work upon the recommendation of David Tibet of Current 93 fame. This must have been at least ten years ago now. My first experience of his actual work was on a twilit winter afternoon, when my boyfriend read aloud the story “Teatro Grottesco” to me. It was in THE YEAR’S BEST FANTASY AND HORROR: TENTH ANNUAL COLLECTION, which I had borrowed from the library (this was in the years before my obsessive book collecting Thomas Ligotti has long been one of my favourite authors. I was first drawn to his work upon the recommendation of David Tibet of Current 93 fame. This must have been at least ten years ago now. My first experience of his actual work was on a twilit winter afternoon, when my boyfriend read aloud the story “Teatro Grottesco” to me. It was in THE YEAR’S BEST FANTASY AND HORROR: TENTH ANNUAL COLLECTION, which I had borrowed from the library (this was in the years before my obsessive book collecting began). I was immediately drawn into Ligotti’s dark, evocative atmospheres. I loved the style and the bleakness of his writing, the strangeness, the way he conjured up that grey netherworld between reality and nothingness so succinctly and eloquently. The next day I went back to the library and signed out a copy of THE NIGHTMARE FACTORY. I didn’t realize how scarce the book had become, and how fortunate I was that my library actually had a copy. I eagerly devoured the book’s contents and very rapidly became a convert to the cult of Ligotti. Over the years, I have managed to track down nearly all of his extant works. I am not so obsessed that I have every edition of every title, but I do have at least one edition of every book, plus various more obscure pieces in rarer anthologies and ‘zines. I am quite proud of my Ligotti collection, and he is one of the only authors who I allow myself the luxury of re-reading frequently (time is scarce when you are an obsessive reader who has hundreds of volumes waiting to be more fully explored). I realize this is beginning to sound more like a love letter to Ligotti (I wonder how many of those he’s received over the years, I mean real love letters, not fan letters – an interesting and humorous thought, but I digress), than what it is supposed to be: my own thoughts on the recently released tribute anthology, THE GRIMSCRIBE’S PUPPETS, edited by the oh so wonderfully and darkly talented Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., and featuring awesomely creepy and effective cover artwork by Italian artist Daniele Serra. I was so excited when I first heard mention of this project what seems like a long time ago now on the Thomas Ligotti forums. Another quick aside here: if you’re looking for an abundance of new and dark and wonderful strange/weird fiction, the TLO forums are just what you are seeking. I can’t even begin to number all the marvelous authors I have discovered while wandering through the forums’ labyrinthine corridors. Without that site, I don’t know just how long it would have taken me to discover such dark starred luminaries as Quentin S. Crisp, Mark Samuels, Reggie Oliver, Simon Strantzas, Richard Gavin…Well I could go on and add several names, but I’ll stop here. Suffice it to say that the site has been a wealth of macabre discoveries for me, not only of all things Ligottian, but of all things rich and strange as well. So anyhow, this is where I first heard that THE GRIMSCRIBE’S PUPPETS was being assembled, and as far as I was concerned, this anthology could not be released fast enough. By this point I had read all I could find by Ligotti, and if I couldn’t read any more of his works, then I wanted to read the next best thing: stories by writers who were as entranced by him as I was, and who would do us the honour of sharing their Ligottian visions and nightmares. I’ve never done this before, but I think I will address each story individually as I read them. “Furnace” by Livia Llewellyn – This story was an excellent choice to start the anthology. Ms. Llewellyn’s writing is superb. Her style is a seamless mix of her own voice flavoured with Ligottianisms. But this does not seem like a pastiche. She blends the two seamlessly. And what is even more fascinating is to have this distinctly female narrative resound so strongly in an area that has been so long dominated by male narratives. I do not want to get into this here; I have very strong views about women in weird fiction, but that’s not what this is about. Ligotti has written a few stories featuring female characters, but I find that his female characters (if they are the protagonists and not passing victims, like Daisy in “Les Fleurs” or the unfortunate prostitute in “The Chymist”), are really hard to differentiate from the men. I think this actually works in Ligotti’s favour, as his stories enter a milieu that transcends (while often ignoring) mere sexuality, on any level. In “Furnace” Livia Llewellyn has created a Ligottian story that really only works because the narrator is distinctly female. This is powerful stuff, a nightmare of motherhood as all devouring void. I’m still digesting this, and don’t want to say too much more for fear of giving too much away. “The Lord Came at Twilight” by Daniel Mills – I have enjoyed everything I have read by Daniel Mills, and this tale is no exception. This period piece references Ligotti’s “The Mystics of Muelenberg” and tries to illuminate some of the mysteries posed therein. I would not say that this was written in a Ligottian fashion, but his themes of nihilism are distinctly present. I adored this darkly decadent story. “The Secrets of the Universe” by Michael Cisco – Ah, Michael Cisco, will I ever read a story by you that I can really grasp? To me this story read like a philosophical conversation about the supernatural or ghost story as nonsense. There is a lot that went over my head. Do ghosts exist? Don’t they? Does it really matter? What happened at the end? Was I supposed to guess? Was it blatantly obvious and I’m just a moron? These are the sorts of questions that often go through my brain as I am reading Michael Cisco. That being said, I suppose I did recognize a certain type of Ligottian flavor in this configuration of baffling words. “The Human Moth” by Kaaron Warren – This was a nasty little tale full of alienation and uncertainty. How much was in the narrator’s head, and how much was real? I loved the psychological ambiguity of it all. It didn’t feel very Ligottian to me, however, apart from the themes of alienation and “otherness”. “Basement Angels” by Joel Lane – This is the second story that I have read by Joel Lane recently that dealt in some form with escape into another world/dimension (the other was the excellent tale “Echoland” in the anthology SHADOWS EDGE edited by Simon Stantzas). While “Basement Angels” was slightly darker and bleaker in tone, the protagonists of both tales are definitely not better off due to their transformations. I found this story extremely effective and disturbing. I have not read much by Joel Lane in the past, and have found what I have read by him thus far to be somewhat hit and miss, but I hope to read more stories by him that explore this theme of entering other realms of consciousness. “No Signal” by Darrell Schweitzer - I found this short and creepy tale to be somewhat predictable, but enjoyable nonetheless. The Ligottian themes of the futility of existence, and the supremacy of nothingness is predominant here. “The Xenumbulist: A Fable in Four Acts” by Robin Spriggs – I absolutely adored this story! I had been curious about Robin Spriggs for a while, and immediately upon finishing this darkly poetic and surrealistic tale I went and ordered a copy of his collection WONDROUS STRANGE. I must read more of his work, and soon! Reading this story was truly a dreamlike journey through a psychedelic mind. The imagery was both gorgeous and disturbing. And even though I found the ending unsatisfyingly abrupt, this did not detract enough from the story to prevent me from being blown away by the writing style. If the rest of his writing is of this quality, Robin Spriggs is a true dark visionary. “The Company Town” by Nicole Cushing – This was my least favourite story in this anthology I am afraid. I have never read any of Nicole Cushing’s work before, but was looking forward to this, because I have always respected what she had to say from what I have read of her postings online. However, I was sadly disappointed by this “The Company Town”. I found the writing style slightly paint by numbers, and the twist predictable. Perhaps it was meant to be solely humorous, but if so, it fell flat, in my opinion. This is not to say that I will not read any more of her work, but I was expecting more from an intelligent writer who so clearly respects Ligotti. “The Man Who Escaped this Story” by Cody Goodfellow – Undoubtedly one of the highlights of this anthology, “The Man Who Escaped this Story” is a remarkable puzzle box of a tale, combining both humour and cosmic dread into a heady mix. This story features tales within tales, a narrator who is both unreliable and omniscient, brilliantly executed in both interview and third person narratives. By the end of this disturbing mental adventure, I was beginning to question my own grip on reality (tenuous at the best of times). I shall definitely be seeking out more by Mr. Goodfellow! “Pieces of Blackness” by Michael Kelly – I think Michael Kelly is fast becoming the expert on subtle horror. These are the sorts of stories he chooses for his excellent fiction journal SHADOWS & TALL TREES, and this story is a prime example of just how powerful quiet horror can be. The short tale begins with a character that seems normal and stable at first, but Kelly gradually reveals details that illuminate just how dysfunctional he really is. This story is an effective reminder of the darkness that can simmer so closely beneath the surface of even the most humdrum seeming of lives. The ending is chilling. “The Blue Star” by Eddie M. Angerhuber – This was the only reprint in this anthology, originally published in 2000. Eddie M. Angerhuber is the champion of Ligotti in Germany, and this story clearly shows his influence, although she definitely has a voice of her own. The protagonist of this story is haunted by the eponymous blue star, and we are taken along on his yearly journey to visit the blue star’s environs and the nightmare that awaits him there. I shall be haunted by images of this eldritch and monstrous blue star for some time, I think, which is a pity, because at first I found the image of the blue star both soothing and beautiful. Oh how mistaken I was to perceive it this way, but this only added to the power of the story. I swear, one day I shall track down a copy of Angerhuber’s collection NOCTURNAL PRODUCTS, one of the more elusive tomes in weird fiction. “20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism” by Jon Padgett – This story rapidly transforms from a fairly humorous and lighthearted beginning into a true nightmare. It reads almost as an insane manifesto of a mad master puppeteer/ventriloquist god, or rather demiurge. This is definitely one of the most Ligottian tales in this collection, and is a fitting tribute. I find it particularly fitting that this story was written by one of the chief exponents of Ligotti’s work, as Jon Padgett is the mastermind behind the Thomas Ligotti Online forums. I shall be eternally grateful to him for forming this online community that has given me so many dark discoveries in the realms of weird fiction! “The Holiness of Desolation” by Robert M. Price – Price’s short piece is a fittingly dreamlike tale that explores Ligotti’s creation of Vastarien, as well as making use of his philosophical treatise THE CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE HUMAN RACE. Price writes in a lush, almost baroque style that is almost the antithesis of Ligotti’s sparer phrasing. Still, I find that this style really suited the desolate dreamscapes that Price created here. I found this story an excellent rendering of some of Ligotti’s personal philosophies into story form. I feel that there is much I did not pick up on here, and that this story will reveal more to me upon further readings. It was quite dense in its brevity. I know Robert M. Price as more of a Lovecraft scholar, but this story has encouraged me to read more of his own fiction works as well. “Diamond Dust” by Michael Griffin – “Diamond Dust” focuses mostly on Ligotti’s theme of corporate horror and the seeming sheer nonsense of it all, mixed with a healthy dose of industrial chic. However, the nonsense and nihilistic glamour in this tale seems to mask a humongous cosmic nightmare that is too horrific for us to glimpse while retaining hold of our sanity. Along with the Ligotti influence, I caught strong hints of both Clive Barker and H.R. Giger in this tale. I think Michael Griffin just might be a writer to watch. “After the Final” by Richard Gavin – I found this story to be one of the more overt tributes to Ligotti, an homage to “Professor Nobody’s Little Lectures on Supernatural Literature”, and I was also strongly reminded in parts of “The Night School”. With an atmosphere that is redolent with autumnal decay and a nihilistically deranged narrator, “After the Final” has much to recommend it, and is of the fine quality that I have come to expect over the years from Richard Gavin, a true “macabrist” extraordinaire! “Eyes Exchange Bank” by Scott Nicolay – Taking place in the post-Reagan era of a shattered economy, “Eyes Exchange Bank” takes us on a journey through a rapidly decaying small town in Pennsylvania. While this story has much to recommend it, including very powerful descriptions of a general state of decrepitude and very menacing shadow figures, I really didn’t like the protagonist of the story, and this detracted from it for me, unfortunately. I just didn’t care that horrible things were happening to him; he was unbearable. I don’t know if this was the intention of the writer or not, however I never found myself feeling so antagonistic towards any of Ligotti’s characters, even the more reprehensible ones. That being said, I still think this story did a fine job of capturing a Ligottian sense of decay, and I really found Nicolay’s weaving in of the works of both Maurice Roche (who I have never read before, but will look into now) and Poe intriguing. “By Invisible Hands” by Simon Strantzas – “By Invisible Hands” utilizes as its basis one of the themes that Ligotti is best known for, namely puppets. Strantzas has weaved an unsettling tale involving an ancient master puppet maker and the mysterious Dr. Toth, a peer Dr. Voke, or Dr. Locrian, perhaps? This story is genuinely creepy, the ending disturbing, and I found myself pitying the unfortunate puppet maker more than any of the other characters I have thus far encountered in this anthology. His fate is truly terrible, and truly Ligottian, but I don’t want to say any more for fear of giving anything away. I am still shuddering thinking of the ending of this story! “Where We Will all Be” by Paul Tremblay – This is the first story I have ever read by Paul Tremblay, and while I enjoyed it, in comparison with others in the book I would have to say it is one of the weaker ones. The main premise of an outsider finding a certain twisted salvation in his outsider-ness was an interesting one, although I found the execution itself a little bit lacking. The moths were a nice touch, though. This is the second story featuring moths in THE GRIMSCRIBE’S PUPPETS, and I am TERRIFIED of moths, so automatically this story, along with Warren’s ‘The Human Moth’, has enough ammunition within them to unsettle me! “Gailestis” by Allyson Bird – I have mixed feelings about this story, which stem from me having mixed feelings about Allyson Bird as a writer in general. I find her ideas often quite interesting and appealing, but her writing style somewhat clumsy. I can’t put my finger on exactly what I find clumsy about it; perhaps it is just the fact that her words and phrases and sentence structures often don’t seem to flow smoothly, and sometimes this lack of fluidity can be somewhat jarring. This story was no exception, unfortunately. However, I did appreciate the fairy tale feel of it, and there were some vivid images that have lingered in my mind, of silver haired twins, crimson wine glasses, and Ophelia like maidens floating away. This story had so much potential, if only it had been written in a more fluid fashion. “The Prosthesis” by Jeffrey Thomas – This story did not grab me right away, and I found my attention drifting away frequently while I was reading it. There are some interesting ideas contained herein, however, and an interesting use of the theme of puppetry. There was a slight twist ending, which I’m afraid I didn’t see coming, although in retrospect, the clues were there. And I will never be able to look at artificial limbs the same way again (and I was uneasy about them to begin with), so that seems to say something to me about the efficacy of “The Prosthesis” as an unconventional parable of sorts. “Into the Darkness, Fearlessly” by John Langan – I confess, I am partial to stories that feature tortured horror writers, editors and the ins and outs of the somewhat incestuous horror community, whether it be through describing conventions, or blogs or author readings, etc. It’s almost like reading a demented gossip column of sorts. I find Mark Samuels particularly adept at writing stories like this; his “A Gentleman from Mexico”, “The Cannibal Kings of Horror”, and “Losenef Express” express are classics in this vein. Other prime examples include “The Rediscovery of Death” by Mike O’Driscoll and “More Dark” by Laird Barron. And now I can add “Into the Darkness, Fearlessly” to this ever growing list. I admit, when I am reading a story such as this I can’t help but try and figure out if any real people are used as inspirations for the characters in the stories. Luckily, the tortured author in this piece, Linus Price, is not based on Ligotti, but I couldn’t help but think of him, his editor, his ex-wife, and his enemy writer nemesis as certain other individuals (I won’t say who!) I’m sure the resemblances were mostly coincidental, but it added an extra spicy dimension to this story that made it even more entertaining to read. I think this was one of the strongest stories in the collection, at times funny, at times poignant, and at times downright disturbing, with a healthy dose of some particularly painful sadomasochistic sexuality. The slightly twist ending was somewhat predictable, but still well executed. Oh, and last but not least, can somebody please tell me that Weirdcon will one day be a reality? I’ve never been to a genre convention, but this is one I would definitely make an effort to get to! “Oubliette” by Gemma Files – This was an excellent choice to end this anthology. The more I read by Gemma Files, the more I admire her for her versatility as a writer. “Oubliette” is told in an epistolary fashion, comparable to the absolutely brilliant and terrifying “Everything I Show You is a Piece of My Death”, co-written with her husband Stephen J. Barringer. However, the epistolary format is really the only thing these two stories have in common. She uses this narrative method damn well. “Oubliette” revolves around themes of mental illness, slightly subversive and immersive therapy methods and suicide cults founded on outré beliefs based on ancient Sumerian mythology merged with the supposed early alien visitors to earth. What I particularly found intriguing about this tale was the way Files was able to take some of Ligotti’s core bleak philosophies and spin them into an almost hopeful light. There is a definite sense of resignation experienced by the protagonist at the end, but it is tempered with a healthy dose of acceptance. This story was just excellent! Overall, I found this to be a very fitting tribute to the genius that is Ligotti. I did not love all the stories, but then again it is so rarely that I do in an anthology. The variety of voices is what makes an anthology so appealing to me after all. It was fascinating to see all the ways in which Ligotti’s work influenced and inspired the dark visions of all these writers. Perhaps my greatest disappointment was the lack of a few authors, who f

  2. 5 out of 5

    Justin Steele

    The first book reviewed on The Arkham Digest was A Season in Carcosa, edited by Joseph S. Pulver Sr. An all-star lineup of weird fiction writers had written their own stories of madness for this anthology in tribute to the King in Yellow stories by Robert Chambers. I can't help but look at The Grimscribe's Puppets as a companion piece to that volume. Both published by the wonderful Miskatonic River Press, both edited by Joseph S. Pulver, both featuring a perfect lineup of weird fiction authors, The first book reviewed on The Arkham Digest was A Season in Carcosa, edited by Joseph S. Pulver Sr. An all-star lineup of weird fiction writers had written their own stories of madness for this anthology in tribute to the King in Yellow stories by Robert Chambers. I can't help but look at The Grimscribe's Puppets as a companion piece to that volume. Both published by the wonderful Miskatonic River Press, both edited by Joseph S. Pulver, both featuring a perfect lineup of weird fiction authors, both with stunning Dani Serra cover art. The Grimscribe's Puppets is a tribute anthology to horror maestro Thomas Ligotti. Thomas Ligotti, one of the finest horror authors, can be a tough pill to swallow. He has gained cult status, and logging onto the forums Thomas Ligotti Online (a great place for weird fiction in general) one can easily see the influence he has had over many readers and authors over the years. His work is definitely not for everyone though, casual horror readers would most likely be turned off by his particular brand of philosophical horror, yet everyone should read Ligotti at least once. His work explores decrepit, dying towns, dark corporations, and most always features loner/outsider/misanthropic protagonists. His stories are bleak, Gothic, and often have a nihilistic/pessimistic philosophical bent. They are brilliant. For The Grimscribe's Puppets Joe Pulver has pulled together twenty-two top notch stories, from twenty-two esteemed weird fiction authors. After A Season in Carcosa, this volume was high on my anticipated reads list, so I opened the cover with high expectations. Thankfully, the anthology not only met those expectations, but far surpassed them. The collection opens with Livia Llewellyn's Furnace, a tale of a dying town told through the eyes of a young girl. Llewellyn displays a wonderful use of language to add beauty to this dark story. The Lord Came At Twilight, which gets the nod as my favorite story title in the anthology - hands down, is Daniel Mills doing what he does best. The story is a period-piece, and Mills excels at writing historical weird fiction. His language and style are reminiscent of the weird masters of old, and mesh perfectly with the narrative. This story is also the first story to be directly related to one of Ligotti's works, The Mystics of Muelenberg. Ligotti's story took place in modern day, but referenced events from long ago, and Mills gives readers a detailed glimpse into what happened in Muelenberg. Michael Cisco's The Secrets of the Universe is a story only Michael Cisco could write. This stylistic piece follows a macabre conversation and leads to a nice twist ending. The Human Moth by Kaaren Warren features one of the more disturbing narrators I've read. Warren takes the idea of the outsider to a whole new creepy level with this story. Joel Lane's Basement Angels takes a typical Ligottian protagonist, a man suffering from blackouts that cause him to see his everyday life as a sham. The man seeks therapeutic help, but what he finds may leave him worse off than he was before. Darrel Schweitzer's No Signal has a dream-like (nightmare?) quality to the story, as the main character goes through the motions as if he's part of a script, not knowing why he's doing what he's doing, but doing it anyway. The Xenambulist: A Fable in Four Acts by Robin Spriggs starts with another Ligottian protagonist, a disaffected man suffering from insomnia. As he descends the stairs for a midnight jaunt, his counting of the steps produces a different number than it usually does. He knows this isn't right, and it begins his descent into unreality. As the man heads to an abandoned church, things only get more bizarre, as the man encounters things from Jewish mysticism. Nicole Cushing's The Company Town is a morbid story with a darkly humorous bent. The subject matter is dark, but Cushing handles it well. The story's commentary on Ligottian corporations is pitch perfect. Cody Goodfellow's Wishing Well was my favorite story in A Season for Carcosa. That being said, I was very much looking forward to his story, The Man Who Escaped This Story. Simply put, it's brilliant. A man is convinced that we are all just characters in an uncaring deity's world. For him, his real life is a joke, as he is just snatched up by this puppeteer god to enact out nightmarish scenarios. The story has the perfect amount of humor thrown in to balance out the bleakness, making it one of the most entertaining stories of the anthology. Writer/editor Michael Kelly offers up a story about a man with secrets, whose darkness is beginning to physically manifest inside of him. In Pieces of Blackness Kelly does a great job of creating a protagonist that inspires both pity and disgust. His dark secret comes more and more to the forefront as he begins to abhor the creepy child he adopted with his wife. The Blue Star, by Eddie M. Angerhuber, is the only reprint included in the book. Angerhuber is known for translating Ligotti's works into German, and for writing her own Ligottian stories. Only one collection of her work has been translated into English (and translated by Angerhuber herself) and is titled Nocturnal Products, but it is difficult to find. This story features a man returning to a bleak, canal-filled city for an annual trip to commemorate a horror that occurred in the past. Jon Padgett's 20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism is an excellent exercise in humor. The story reads as a guidebook to ventriloquism, yet as it progresses it heads into darker territory. Scholar Robert M. Price first published Ligotti's Vastarien in Crypt of Cthulhu #48 in 1987. He then reprinted it in The New Lovecraft Circle in 2004. Therefore, it was entirely appropriate for Price's contribution, The Holiness of Desolation, to be a story in connection with Vastarien. The story follows a man stuck in a dream like city, who obsesses over seeing the world in a desolate state. Until recently, the only writing by Michael Griffin I was familiar with were the pieces on his blog, and sometimes reviews. Not long ago I read a story of his in The Lovecraft E-Zine, and couldn't wait to read more. Diamond Dust is a great portrait of a man stuck in a disintegrating relationship. As his personal and work life start to blend in troubling ways, it's clear that forces much darker are at play. Griffin is on point with his portrayal of the protagonist's anxieties. In the last year, Richard Gavin has become one of my favorite weird fiction authors. His fiction never disappoints, and I also look forward to reading his new stories. After the Final is a response to Ligotti's Mr. Nobody's Little Lectures on Supernatural Horror. This tale features madness, morbid obsession, and a bleak ending, so what's not to like? Eyes Exchange Bank is a perfect example of why I'm looking forward to Scott Nicolay's debut fiction collection. Nicolay excels at creating the decrepit setting, which is an oppressive part of the narrative. The characters are realistic, and when the protagonist goes to visit his old friend in the run-down Pennsylvania town in order to find succor from his bad breakup, he finds a town that seems to be a black hole that sucks the life out of it's inhabitants. Simon Strantzas utilizes Ligotti's fascination with puppetry to write a truly horrifying story. By Invisible Hands features an old, washed up puppet-maker, who is approached with a mysterious offer of work. The man is in a bad state of confusion already, and it quickly becomes clear that something much more malignant is happening. There are always some nice nods to Ligotti strewn throughout the piece: Dr. Toth calls to mind Ligotti's Dr. Thoss, and the protagonist's name is never mentioned, only referred to as T._____ L._____. Where We Will All Be by Paul Tremblay is an excellent apocalyptic vision. A young man awakes on his parent's couch into the strangest day of his life. His being different saves him from the Lemming-esque behavior of everyone else, leaving him to contemplate the end of everything by himself. Allyson Bird's Gailestis is a fine example of quiet horror. The story is almost reminiscent of a fairy tale or piece of folklore, with horrific implications strewn throughout. The Prosthesis is about a man working in a factory that creates various prosthetics to help people cope with physical and mental loss. Jeffrey Thomas paints a picture of a disaffected man dealing with the daily nonsense that comes with a 9-5 job, only this time it's in an absurd department of the prosthetic factory. This man also has dealt with loss, and begins his own prosthetic project. John Langan's Into The Darkness, Fearlessly follows a fiction editor in the aftermath is his author friend's gruesome murder. When an unpublished manuscript by the recently deceased author shows up on his doorstep, the editor fights through a barrage of emotions and starts reading. Things only get crazier from there, as the editor goes down the rabbit hole. An excellent story. The anthology closes with Oubliette by Gemma Files. The unorthodox narrative calls to mind her earlier co-authored (with Stephen J. Barringer) each thing i show you is a piece of my death, which is an absoultely brilliant piece of horror fiction. This tale is no different, and is told in a succession of blog posts, instant messaging/Skype/E-mail conversations, news articles, and personal notes. The story follows a post-suicide depressive admitted into an apartment at a rehab facility. The program is experimental, and everything is done online so the patient never has to leave. It's not long that dark forces begin to come into play, as this particular apartment has a rather dark past. Twenty-two stories, and not a single bad one in the bunch. Fans of Ligotti should pick up The Grimscribe's Puppets without question. Readers who are curious about Ligotti could also do well to even start here to get an idea of the sorts of themes they would find in Ligotti's work. I couldn't recommend this anthology any more. Originally appeared on my blog, The Arkham Digest.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Paul Roberts

    “The Secrets of the Universe” by Michael Cisco contains enough brilliant ideas to fuel a novel. Stories by Livia Llewellyn, Cody Goodfellow, Richard Gavin, John Langan and (the late) Joel Lane are worth the modest price of admission. Gemma Files' "Oubliette" is perhaps the most powerful work presented here. Pulver, a fantastic writer himself, has collected a wonderful tribute to Ligotti. I can only wonder though, in a meta-conspiracy-rumour fugue, whether Laird Barron’s “More Dark” was submitted “The Secrets of the Universe” by Michael Cisco contains enough brilliant ideas to fuel a novel. Stories by Livia Llewellyn, Cody Goodfellow, Richard Gavin, John Langan and (the late) Joel Lane are worth the modest price of admission. Gemma Files' "Oubliette" is perhaps the most powerful work presented here. Pulver, a fantastic writer himself, has collected a wonderful tribute to Ligotti. I can only wonder though, in a meta-conspiracy-rumour fugue, whether Laird Barron’s “More Dark” was submitted. Shame on me.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    I would say right now Ligotti is my favorite horror author. Unfortunately I've almost read everything he has written. (Fortunately his work is imminently re-readable.) So this seemed like the place to go for some philosophical horror in the Ligotti vein. I knew this book was going to be good because it won a Shirley Jackson award and I watch the weekly Lovecraft eZine YouTube show where Joe Pulver (the editor) appears regularly, and was expecting an impressive collection from the discussion there I would say right now Ligotti is my favorite horror author. Unfortunately I've almost read everything he has written. (Fortunately his work is imminently re-readable.) So this seemed like the place to go for some philosophical horror in the Ligotti vein. I knew this book was going to be good because it won a Shirley Jackson award and I watch the weekly Lovecraft eZine YouTube show where Joe Pulver (the editor) appears regularly, and was expecting an impressive collection from the discussion there. But I have to say this anthology was even better than I imagined after all that build-up. Incredibly consistent quality I couldn't wait to dive back into. This is an embarrassment of riches, but I will say that I preferred the stories which were more philosophical in tone. For example, Scott Nicolay's "Eyes Exchange Bank" and John Langan's "Into the Darkness, Fearlessly" are both supreme pieces of horror fiction with Ligottian mood and ideas. But personally I preferred stories like Robin Sprigg's "The Xenambulist" which shows a deep understanding of Ligotti's pessimism or Joel Lane's uber-creepy "Basement Angels," or Michael Griffin's corporate horror story "Diamond Dust." The stories of Cody Goodfellow and Michael Cisco also deserve special mention. A lot of these are short, in the 4-5k words range, but I think that's a plus. We get more authors that way, and more perspectives. Furnace • by Livia Llewellyn - This is an excellent story, it's certainly Ligott-esque, but it's also incredibly individual. It's a bit like Ligotti meets Cisco; an author I'm a bit more familiar with than Llewellyn. Very "out there." A young girl describes her decaying town where time seems to repeat itself in a constant morphing of forms, sometimes in horrific ways. The Lord Came at Twilight • by Daniel Mills - This is another excellent story, it's got a few Ligotti images here and there, but a powerful overall theme to it of the disillusionment of man which is particularly sad. After a strange night in which a monk appears to have burned down a grand old oak in the monastery garden, the town becomes a place of sin, preparing for an unholy competition. The Secrets of the Universe • by Michael Cisco - This is a really fascinating story, I'm not entirely sure what I make of the very end, but it's just overflowing with interesting ideas and creative ways of presenting them throughout. Two men discuss the secret of the universe, how it's possible the supernatural does indeed exist, revealed through everything from strange personal experiences to animals sacrificing each other. The Human Moth • by Kaaron Warren - I liked this story, even if I didn't find it particularly Ligottian. Still, it's certainly a good piece of weird fiction, and a good story of alienation, a person being unsure of what they are, being partly one thing, but not enough to be it entirely. A young girl, different from everyone else tries to cope with being seemingly born with moth-like features and obsessions. Basement Angels • by Joel Lane - This was a truly creepy story, very "Ligotti," with a nice build up and a very disturbing ending. One of my favorites, it makes an impression and Lane shows a deep understanding of where Ligotti is coming from. Max suffers from a series of confusing blackouts over the course of many years, he has finally found a man who may be able to explain them. No Signal • by Darrell Schweitzer - Another great story that packs a lot into it's short span. Dreamlike and surreal. A man feels he must leave his family, on a mission of no return. THE XENAMBULIST: A Fable in Four Acts • by Robin Spriggs - GREAT story, nice setting and evocative prose. This one really reminded me of "The Voice of the Bones" from Noctuary which I read recently. This is another author with a deep appreciation of Ligotti. An insomniac accidentally ventures into another dimension. The Company Town • by Nicole Cushing - HA! this is a dark humor tale, it has the Ligotti corporate horror element, but also an anti-natalist tone taken in such an absurd direction. Very good for it's length. After the death of his wife, a father takes his daughter with him into a very strange, new town owned and operated by a very strange corporation. The Man Who Escaped This Story • by Cody Goodfellow - My personal favorite. Damn what a story! Goodfellow shows a deep understanding of Ligotti's existential despair. It's got a very creative style and plot. A man explains to his psychiatrist how he has been asked to play various shabby roles in life like a puppet which reveal several dark truths about the human condition. Pieces of Blackness • by Michael Kelly - I liked this story, it reminds me of the more emotional weird tales of Nathan Ballingrud or Clint Smith. But I think compared with the others this one doesn't have the same level of compelling, deeper philosophical ties. After a couple adopt a creepy boy, he brings back bad old memories for the father which now threaten to literally tear him apart. The Blue Star • by Eddie M. Angerhuber - I believe this was the one re-print, first published in 2002. I can see why it's included, it packs quite a punch, some creepy moments and a rather brutal ending. Effective use of less than 3k words! A man travels through a dark city, toward a blue neon star to keep an appointment with a tragedy that occurred there years ago. 20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism • by Jon Padgett - This one is focused more on the philosophical than the story side and was a very creative way to present many of Ligotti's ideas. A manual for ventriloquism becomes increasingly disturbing in it's explorations of what it means to be a puppet. The Holiness of Desolation • by Robert M. Price - Nice little entry from Robert M Price, has a typical Ligotti setting and mood. Impressive for it's brief length. A man finds himself in a desolate dream world, but wants to see desolation of the REAL world -- this is solved when he comes upon a copy of "The Conspiracy Against the Human Race." Diamond Dust • by Michael Griffin - The writing style here grated on me a bit at first, too many fragmentary sentences for my taste. That said, this is probably in my top three selections, a tale of corporate and philosophical horror which I thought really effective. A man begins to realize that there are troubling parallels between his troubles at home and at work where a vast structure is being built. After the Final • by Richard Gavin - I liked this one, interesting premise. I thought this one took a somewhat more realistic approach, the writing style is surreal enough, but the events in it are essentially those of one driven to madness by the lectures of Professor Nobody. Eyes Exchange Bank • by Scott Nicolay - Hate to say it again, but "Wow!" A very scary story, reminds me of "The Last Feast of Harlequin" at times, it certainly has the spirit of it. Wonderful atmosphere of a decayed town, and a decrepit mall makes a good setting for the horror. What most shines though are the two main characters. One of the more realistic stories in the collection. A man trying to recover from his recent breakup travels to see an old friend, but finds him in a state of peculiar lassitude like the town itself. By Invisible Hands • by Simon Strantzas - I read this one previously in Strantzas excellent "Burnt Black Suns." It's moody, vague, surreal, dream-like. The end impressed me because it didn't take the direction I expected. An old puppet maker is summoned to the home of a Dr Toth to create something horrible, but the reason for it he will discover later is far more horrifying. Where We Will All Be • by Paul G. Tremblay - A good apocalyptic weird tale, with Ligottian touches, but probably one of my least favorite in the collection. That doesn't mean it's not a good story, it intrigues and holds it's secrets well until the very end. A young man home from college seems to be caught up in the end of the world, but is affected differently because of the way his brain works. Gailestis • by Allyson Bird - A very muted, atmospheric story, that references and occasionally feels like a very dark fairy tale. I would put this one rather below the average here, and it doesn't delve as deeply into Ligotti territory as I would have preferred. It does have some really dark things going on, and expresses a painful futility of life quite well. A sad story of a pair of twins living in poverty, as the world seems to decay around them. The Prosthesis • by Jeffrey Thomas - Good weird tale with some moments that are genuinely scary. This one has the Kafka-esque, absurd corporate horror element, quite impressive with a suitably vague and surreal conclusion. A man working in a very strange prosthesis factory begins stealing body parts as he deals with his own haunted past. Into the Darkness, Fearlessly • by John Langan - I was looking forward to this, and Langan doesn't disappoint. I like how things start out realistic enough, but turn increasingly hallucinogenic in a skillfully-handed fashion. In fact at it's most surreal and darkest moments some quirky humor shows through where I just had to laugh because it was just so...weird! There's several points here I would have liked to have been a bit more clear on, but I suppose it's more effective the way it is. A horror anthologist finds a collection of stories on his doorstep from a recently murdered author, and is drawn into the mystery of his death. Oubliette • by Gemma Files - Great story to end on and the one story that made me say "Oh My God" out loud, if that counts for anything. It takes on an entirely manic feel; aided by the style in which it's told: through blog posts, emails and instant message conversations. Fans of the film The Tenant (1976) might see similarities, the "tooth" reference was what really got me. A young woman who has attempted suicide admits herself into rehab, and unknowingly into a apartment with a haunted past.

  5. 4 out of 5

    S.P.

    Thomas Ligotti's fiction is not an acquired taste. Either you're willing to travel these streets and face the stark miseries there, or you're not. Most readers like a bit of optimism, even in horror fiction. Most writers build suspense on the possibility, however unlikely, that their protagonist will triumph. Ligotti's characters live in a realm devoid of promise, confirming our suspicion that all, ultimately, is for nothing. For an in-depth study of Thomas Ligotti's work, read S.T. Joshi's The M Thomas Ligotti's fiction is not an acquired taste. Either you're willing to travel these streets and face the stark miseries there, or you're not. Most readers like a bit of optimism, even in horror fiction. Most writers build suspense on the possibility, however unlikely, that their protagonist will triumph. Ligotti's characters live in a realm devoid of promise, confirming our suspicion that all, ultimately, is for nothing. For an in-depth study of Thomas Ligotti's work, read S.T. Joshi's The Modern Weird Tale. And don't miss T.E. Grau's fascinating interview with Ligotti at LORE. All I can offer are a few impressions. The guy walks some creepy territory. His stories are often dreamlike in tone, with a mundane setting and ordinary circumstances employed to conceal terrible secrets. His monster is made of tedium, loneliness, and futility. The world Ligotti presents is largely unknowable and overwhelming. More information tends to distort rather than clarify our perceptions. Our lives are wasted trying to understand minutiae, cope with the people around us, and navigate vaguely defined systems we can never master. People are mysterious. Relationships are periods of resignation punctuated by rupture and destruction. What I admire about this fictional world is its pitch-black integrity. Ligotti doesn't pander to any expectations about how things ought to be. He isn't in the optimism biz. He isn't here to reassure anyone. The Grimscribe's Puppets is a new anthology of original stories prompted by (and honoring) Ligotti's writing. More than twenty exceptionally talented authors have contributed dark riffs on some of the maestro's themes. Included in this volume: "Furnace" by Livia Llewellyn If you've read Llewellyn's collection, Engines of Desire, you know she's one of the great voices in weird fiction today. She has an unparalleled ability to construct a vast yet tangible universe in which individuals are shaped by forces beyond their control. "Furnace" is a small masterpiece of frustrated passion, depicting the untenable dreams of a girl oppressed by maternal phobias and memories. "Pieces of Blackness" by Michael Kelly A man becomes terrified of the six-year-old boy he and his wife have adopted. The father's odd habits emerge as more than rituals when we realize that the child reminds him of something from the past. The disturbing elements of this story glide into place as neatly as a bullet entering the chamber of a gun. "Diamond Dust" by Michael Griffin The protagonist works at a company where everything is in flux. Each night he returns to the apartment his lover has turned into a chaotic studio, where she builds monstrous works of art from chunks of furniture. An all-too-plausible combination of downsizing and over-investment seems to infect everything. Our hero stumbles from one strange encounter to another, wondering how much of his fear is based on paranoia and how much is justified. Griffin brilliantly captures both the mood of current day North America and the doomed atmosphere of Ligotti's "My Work Is Not Yet Done." The story culminates in an epic scene of mass labor enslaved to an unseen, frightening authority. "After the Final" by Richard Gavin Weird fiction doesn't get much better than this. Gavin achieves a miraculous sleight of hand here, turning a deranged psyche inside out with a masterful shift in perspective. "Eyes Exchange Bank" by Scott Nicolay A guy who's down on his luck decides to visit an old friend who is probably in worse shape. The ruined landscape of a typical American town is presented naturally, the outcome of greed blighting every corner. The two friends go out for a pizza and a few beers, trying to reminisce without admitting the crushing despair closing in all around them. Editor Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. commissioned the stories in The Grimscribe's Puppets, published by Miskatonic River Press. The results prove that Thomas Ligotti's influence runs deep. For readers (like myself) who appreciate fiction that doesn't try to sell false hope, this is a good sign. (Note: For reviewing purposes I received a paperback copy of The Grimscribe's Puppets from the editor.)

  6. 4 out of 5

    sologdin

    Tribute anthology to Ligotti. Varies in quality story to story, and some are less ligottian than others, or tooth on unessential or early Ligotti ideas. Most cerebral and ligottian contribution is Padgett’s “20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism,” which develops subtlely as a slowly dawning horror. Some of the other stories are good, too, but there are a few that I just did not understand. Thematically, many of the contributions concern solitude, and the horror effects are often enough generated by th Tribute anthology to Ligotti. Varies in quality story to story, and some are less ligottian than others, or tooth on unessential or early Ligotti ideas. Most cerebral and ligottian contribution is Padgett’s “20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism,” which develops subtlely as a slowly dawning horror. Some of the other stories are good, too, but there are a few that I just did not understand. Thematically, many of the contributions concern solitude, and the horror effects are often enough generated by the conjunction of solitude with the sense that all that is solid melts into air, through the representation of decaying cities and so on. In these regards, horror as a whole strikes me as a profoundly conservative subgenre, generating its principle effect through the presentation of modern life as decadent, too transformative, completely alienated with no remedy. Most of the stories in this volume sit along the fine line between the fantastic, wherein the text compels the reader to hesitate between natural and supernatural explanations for events, and the uncanny, wherein the natural explanation is preferred, usually a manifest defect in the narrator’s perception or cognition (cf. Jackson’s Fantasy The Literature of Subversion at 24-29 regarding the distinction). Consistent with the title, many of the stories involve puppets of one sort or another. Recommended for those who are addicted to sacrifice, readers who could get a blowjob for a quarter in Scranton, and persons who learn the final step the hard way.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Alexander

    I very much wanted to love this book, so perhaps my reaction suffers from too-high expectations. I've been a Thomas Ligotti fan since I first read Songs of a Dead Dreamer as an undergraduate. Many of us living in the same house took turns with the hardcover, respectfully discussing it in hushed voices. Since then I've bought every text I could find. I followed the cult for a while, and taught one of his short stories to several approving Gothic Lit classes. So the idea of a tribute collection ap I very much wanted to love this book, so perhaps my reaction suffers from too-high expectations. I've been a Thomas Ligotti fan since I first read Songs of a Dead Dreamer as an undergraduate. Many of us living in the same house took turns with the hardcover, respectfully discussing it in hushed voices. Since then I've bought every text I could find. I followed the cult for a while, and taught one of his short stories to several approving Gothic Lit classes. So the idea of a tribute collection appealed deeply. It's a cliche to describe an anthology as "uneven", but this is one of those cliches that became widespread because of its truth. Grimscribe's Puppets has several excellent tales, a bunch of ok stories, and too many forgettable ones. Again, I may being too harsh because I wanted more Ligotti, and the resulting variations strayed too far from Crampton. Ligotti provides me with a rich sense of the surreal, a sliding feeling of doom, serious philosophical brooding, and a vast melancholy. He does through through an extraordinary prose style, which reminds me of M.R. James or Gene Wolfe in its brevity and depth. The best stories here start with Livia Llewellyn's "Furnace", which offers several of that fine author's signature traits: sexual desire, dread, a female protagonist. Michael Cisco's "The Secrets of the Universe" has that fine writer's traits as well: surprising shifts within sentences, menace looming out of playful language. Of all the authors in the collection, Cisco comes closest to Ligotti in stylistic precision and power. Eddie M. Angerhuber's “The Blue Star” feels very close to Ligotti in its surreal depiction of a shining object and a pair of lovers bound closely to it. Others stories have strengths. Cody Goodfellow's "The Man Who Escaped This Story" is an interesting experiment, a kind of mini-anthology about a madman telling his therapist tales. The embedded narratives are very neat, but the frame doesn't hold up. Scott Nicolay's "Eyes Exchange Bank" works hard to embed the uncanny in a more prosaic narrative of collapsing relationships. John Langan's "Into The Darkness, Fearlessly" has fun with a Ligotti-like author's manuscript tormenting an editor. Gemma Files's "Oubliette" is a good horror story about a haunted psychiatric facility, with a nice touch of Heaven's Gate. Michael Kelly's "Pieces of Blackness" had a nice mystery, largely completed by the end. Allyson Bird's "Gailestis" mashes up fairy tales with Ligotti. Some stories aim themselves at specific Ligotti stories. Richard Gavin's "After the Final" goes for "Professor Nobody’s Little Lectures on Supernatural Literature". Others target famous Ligotti obsessions, as Simon Strantzas' "By Invisible Hands" takes up puppets, and Jeffrey Thomas's "The Prosthesis" bases itself on artificial body parts. ...looking back on what I've written above makes me appreciate the collection more for its diversity and strengths. This collection is an imaginative tribute to Ligotti, not purely derivative works, and should be apprehended on those terms. In fact, I'd recommend Grimscribe's Puppets to any horror reader. Several of my favorite living horror authors seem to have deep Ligotti connections, but aren't here. One reviewer listed a bunch, out of which I'd nominate Caitlin Kiernan and Laird Barron. But I shouldn't complain, and instead should reread and reread more of them. And, in fact, my next review goes right to the source with a look at Ligotti's two most recent stories.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    A well-conceived and skillfully executed anthology in tribute to dark weird master Thomas Ligotti. None of it reads exactly like TL, and that is as it should be - each of the 22 authors herein give their own spin on TL's signature tropes and/or themes. This book is crammed with a diverse array of stories conveying different tones and moods, but there is not one story I wasn't glad to read. I have only read a few of these authors in any depth; as I expected, Richard Gavin, Joel Lane, and Simon St A well-conceived and skillfully executed anthology in tribute to dark weird master Thomas Ligotti. None of it reads exactly like TL, and that is as it should be - each of the 22 authors herein give their own spin on TL's signature tropes and/or themes. This book is crammed with a diverse array of stories conveying different tones and moods, but there is not one story I wasn't glad to read. I have only read a few of these authors in any depth; as I expected, Richard Gavin, Joel Lane, and Simon Strantzas all turn in spectacular tales filled with nods to the man they name as a large influence. I am only slightly familiar with the works of John Langan, John Padgett, and Cody Goodfellow, (hey, I'm working on it) but all three now hold hold multiple places on my Amazon Don't Forget To Read This Stuff list. It was also nice to get to finally experience something by Eddie M. Angerhuber. Of the authors who are basically new to me, I was most impressed with Michael Griffin (whose "Diamond Dust" is a contender for my favorite story in the book), Livia Llewellyn, Paul Tremblay, Scott Nicolay, Nicole Cushing, and Gemma Files. Michael Cisco gets his own category. I have so far only read a few stories in different anthologies, and had trouble really grasping them. His story here, "The Secrets of The Universe," is deep and weird. I have heard his writing compared to jazz a number of times, and that sounds about right. I was merely intrigued, until I saw him read another story at NecronomoiCon recently. The intensity and surety of his delivery (more of a performance than a reading) hooked me, and "The Divinity Student" has been pushed to the upper echelons of my bedside book stack. Those names comprise barely 60% of the authors represented here, and no slight is inferred to the others - again, these are all effective and worthy stories. This book would stand on its own without the Ligotti thread tying it together, it is that good. Recommended for any lovers of the truly dark, as is anything written by Ligotti himself.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Phil

    A fantastic anthology which will appeal to any Ligotti fans. I also bought it because I wanted to read Robin Spriggs's contribution. As is always the case with anthologies, there are stories you like, and those you abandon after a few pages if you're not hooked. There were only two or three of the latter, and there are some real corkers in here. Highly recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    As with all multiple author anthologies, it can be a bit of a mixed back, but everything was at least good. The ones which stood out where great. 'The Human Moth' by Kaaron Warren was the first piece that really captured my interest. 'The Man Who Escaped This Story' by Cody Goodfellow was I felt, the most Ligotti-esque tale of them all and a really interesting unconventionally told tale by any standards. '20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism' by Jon Padgett was in a sort of similar vein and once agai As with all multiple author anthologies, it can be a bit of a mixed back, but everything was at least good. The ones which stood out where great. 'The Human Moth' by Kaaron Warren was the first piece that really captured my interest. 'The Man Who Escaped This Story' by Cody Goodfellow was I felt, the most Ligotti-esque tale of them all and a really interesting unconventionally told tale by any standards. '20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism' by Jon Padgett was in a sort of similar vein and once again was totally gripping in its weirdness. 'Holiness of Desolation' by Robert M Price was another stand out for me. Long familiar with his nonfiction work, this actually marks the first time I have read any of his fiction. 'Eyes Exchange Bank' by Scott Nicolay was my personal favorite of the entire anthology, but this could partly be because like the narrator I am a Rutgers alumni, current graduate student, and native of southeastern Pennsylvania and central New Jersey who once occasionally 'made runs for ice cream to Princeton' (an indirect mention of what I assume can only be the excellent Bent Spoon ice cream parlor right down the block from my favorite restaurant in possibly all the world: Ajihei-and yes, I have been to Japan, and yes Ajihei is better than most of the sushi places there-OK tangent over). But all that aside, this was the best story for another reason-it speaks to the very mundane and real alienation which occurs either post-high school or post-college by all those who continue interest in going elsewhere and learning more, and those who do not and settle into bland routine. This is something I have certainly experienced, and I am sure many others do too. If the author has not he certainly describes it will enough anyway. 'Into the Darkness, Fearlessly' is perhaps my second favorite of the bunch. I only discovered John Langan 6 months ago and already he has become possibly my favorite contemporary short story author, so its no surprise I was counting down to this one. It did not disappoint. The very final story, 'Obliette', by Gemma Files was also fantastic, and possibly the best one for pure atmosphere alone. Its rumination of suicide cults coupled with spotty mental health treatment and some truly disturbing yet subtle imagery made it a great way to end the massive collection with a bang rather than a whimper. I also found some wisdom to its conclusion as well, as I once struggled with mental health issues like extreme depression before overcoming them-largely by learning that avoidance was counterproductive, and learning to adapt and engage with my darker side (and harness it for creativity to the point where now I view it as a positive not negative aspect of my life) was actually the path to escaping that-and the story seemed to have some parallels with my own experience there.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    I've spent about six months reading this book, off and on, though this should not be taken as a slight against the book itself. As far as tribute anthologies—where multiple writers write stories in dedication to another writer—go, Pulver has done a fine job. One of the better ones, in fact. His choice of included stories is good and varied, while his choice of order is actually constructive rather than arbitrary feeling. Part of the time it took me to read it was overcoming the fear that a tribu I've spent about six months reading this book, off and on, though this should not be taken as a slight against the book itself. As far as tribute anthologies—where multiple writers write stories in dedication to another writer—go, Pulver has done a fine job. One of the better ones, in fact. His choice of included stories is good and varied, while his choice of order is actually constructive rather than arbitrary feeling. Part of the time it took me to read it was overcoming the fear that a tribute to a writer as distinct as Ligotti would turn into tedious overblown adjectives for "puppets" and "darkness" [it does happen in a couple of stories] and part of the time was trying to distance it from A Season in Carcosa, another tribute anthology edited by Pulver—dedicated to Robert Chambers's "Yellow Mythos"—a book I did not enjoy greatly. Some of the same problems are here, a "pandering to the demographic" coupled with faults in copy-editing, but in both cases they feel like lesser faults compared to the joy of the genius on display. Since I've read this collection over so long a period, I'm not sure if I could do justice to individual story breakdowns, but I'll try and bring up my top six, or so. Keep in mind some of these I've read in the past week and some of these about four or five months ago, so try an not be too harsh if you feel I am slightly off on the fine details. In no particular order... >>>Gemma Files, "The Oubliette". Why? Because, first off, it is an epistolary story done correctly. It also taps into one of the strangest artifacts of recent times, the techno-centric isolationist suicide cult. Combines both of these with both just enough dark weirdness to be scary and enough human emotion to feel touching. >>>Nicole Cushing, "The Company Town". Why? A mixture of middle class sadness and a healthy dose of feeling like you are sitting through an allegory, rolled into a dark, indefinite story. Short and sweet. >>>Jon Padgett, "20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism". Why? Strangely told and effective. Steps taken to become something horrible, a look into the abyss. Etc etc... >>>Scott Nicolay, "Eyes Exchange Bank". Weirdly titled, literary-minded, and an examination of internal and external emptiness and decay. Longer and slower paced, but good. >>>John Langan, "Into the Darkness, Fearlessly". Feels like a barely obfuscated fanboyism, but the overall story about the destructive power of an author's final days invokes enough meta-weirdness that the actual weirdness of it is that much more poignant, and unexplained. Much like Laird Barron's "More Dark" (from Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All), which also has a Ligotti stand-in, this story has a few bits that feel like inside jokes to the 21st century weird fiction circle. >>>Jeffrey Thomas, "Prothesis". Possibly my favorite in the whole collection. Deals with the keen pressure of lacks in our lives and how we can fill them, and the way we destroy ourselves by doing so. This collection is generally recommended, though you probably want a passing familiarity with Ligotti's work, first.

  12. 4 out of 5

    T.A.

    I read the bulk of this anthology in the air on various flights, sandwiched between the latest Patterson and Cussler. Now, I confess this isn't the ideal environment in which to read a book strongly inspired by Ligotti and his predecessors. Despite this, I was sucked down into the worlds between the covers of The Grimscribe's Puppets. Maybe it was enhancement by contrast, or maybe it was that these writers did indeed tap into the same deep vein that keeps the nightmare factory running. These are I read the bulk of this anthology in the air on various flights, sandwiched between the latest Patterson and Cussler. Now, I confess this isn't the ideal environment in which to read a book strongly inspired by Ligotti and his predecessors. Despite this, I was sucked down into the worlds between the covers of The Grimscribe's Puppets. Maybe it was enhancement by contrast, or maybe it was that these writers did indeed tap into the same deep vein that keeps the nightmare factory running. These are all nightmares worth having, and they are all diabolically unique. Whether dark fantasy in uncertain worlds or a trip to a town that could be on your way home; a claustrophobic prison made of shadows or the subtle menace of the shadows in your shrink's office. You will only recognize these visions in parts drawn from what you can understand, but they lead to things that no one wants to understand. Each story is a sort of lexical rorschach, so the effects will be as individual as the reader. The stories which lingered with me are parts abstract, experimental, "meta" and visceral. "The Xenambulist: A Fable in Four Acts" (Robin Spriggs), a Book of the Dead as imagined by an amoral H. Bosch, "Pieces of Blackness"(Michael Kelly), a tale of parenthood driven through with an obsidian stake, "20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism" (Jon Padgett), a meta-tale that winds a horror trope into a barbed knot puzzle, "After the Final"(Richard Gavin), which gives us the Macabrist, "Eyes Exchange Bank" (Scott Nicholay), a terror where the world you recognize is rend into total collapse, "By Invisible Hands" (Simon Strantzas), a demonic tale of puppetry suspended by embalming thread, and "Oubliette" (Gemma Files), a cinematic tale that takes the light away like a rusted jail door. This is dense and heady stuff, probably not for the casual or shock horror fan. The shadow of Grimscribe falls long and wide across the entire book, but thankfully homage never slides into parody or imitation. Many of these stories could fit as well in a literary anthology, and I mean that as a compliment. I believe this is overall a vision of horror at its most artful. So, it is easy to understand that while my neighbors slept with their noses in their paperbacks, I stared out the window at the endless dark and wished for a comforting dream.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Uminsky

    Actually a solid 3.5 stars. There were some really excellent stories in here and some really forgettable ones. As a thorough reader of much of Ligotti's work, I can sympathize with any author attempting to either write some Ligotti pastiche or other strongly derivative work, or simply try to capture the essence of Ligotti's writing... its not easy... so credit to every author in this anthology who gave it a go.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jake Johnson

    Really excellent collection! Must read for Ligotti fans. Fantastic authors; fantastic editor. Overall, very strong tales. There isn't a story in the collection that is subpar, and I would say a third or maybe more really stand out. That is abnormally good compared to most collections I read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    PenneyDreadful

    Among my favorite stories in this anthology are: "The Xenambulist" by Robin Spriggs "Gailestis" by Allyson Bird "The Secrets of the Universe" by Michael Cisco.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Charlie

    Furnace - Livia Llewellyn: Strong opening story as Llewellyn manages to emulate Ligotti's prose style whilst merging it with a distinctive female voice that implicitly addresses Ligotti's... questionable reduction of women to specifically sexual puppets in a way that his male character-puppets seldom are. Also holy hell there is some inventive gore in this. 4/5 The Lord Came at Twilight - Daniel Mills: Great title and takes the interesting approach of removing Ligotti's ideas from their post-mode Furnace - Livia Llewellyn: Strong opening story as Llewellyn manages to emulate Ligotti's prose style whilst merging it with a distinctive female voice that implicitly addresses Ligotti's... questionable reduction of women to specifically sexual puppets in a way that his male character-puppets seldom are. Also holy hell there is some inventive gore in this. 4/5 The Lord Came at Twilight - Daniel Mills: Great title and takes the interesting approach of removing Ligotti's ideas from their post-modern context to imagine a historically Christian community struggling with a crisis of faith brought about by Pessimistic forces. Good but unspectacular, which is fairly representative of the collection as a whole. 3/5 The Secrets of the Universe - Michael Cisco: Some enjoyably witty sophistry in service of epistemic questioning of the reality of 'ghosts' (whatever that word is taken to mean). Two mysterious characters, named A and B prompts what might be A into an essay pondering the reality of hallucinations. Interestingly subtle ending that hinges on an exchange of a single punctuation mark. 3/5 The Human Moth - Kaaron Warren: Hardly Ligottian outside of an outsider narrative, but since Lovecraft already wrote the definitive tale of that genre its inclusion here is eyebrow-raising at least. The story is otherwise effective, with the main character's descent into mothness is rendered skillfully and sympathetically. 4/5 Basement Angels - Joel Lane: A persistent deluge of blackouts leaves a man with a consent sense of unreality which brings him to the attention of an unusual therapist. A number of these stories tackle mental health without holding back and one line in here stands out as particularly evocative: "Max was recurrently aware of wanting to kiss Colin, but he knew that was just a token of a greater need. He didn't want sex any more, these days; he wanted what he'd once thought sex could give him. It had no name."(pg 54). Despite a genuinely chilling ending image, it suffers, like many of these stories, from the familiar Weird Fiction ending, the kind where the story about gradual, subtle strangeness in an otherwise normal world suddenly veers into a dangerous area (perhaps someone goes into a warehouse, or a light turns on at the end of a dark corridor in their house) that results in a grisly fate which often allows the author to exercise their capacity for gore. One of Ligotti's best features is the fact that he typically avoids tropes like this to draw horror from things that are truly weird, 'The Cocoons' from Grimscribe: His Lives and Works being a particularly memorable example of this, so having the trope played straight, and so frequently throughout the collection, is disappointing. 3/5 No Signal - Darrell Schweitzer: The first dud of the collection. He plays the Weird Fiction Stock Ending trope so unironically that you can see it coming from the first page, which meant I was utterly disengaged throughout. I don't think it is too harsh to point out that a familiar Weird tale has, by definition, rather failed at its job. 1/5 The Xenambulist: A Fable in Four Acts - Robin Spriggs: A man leaves his apartment only to notice that there is one less step than he remembers there being. Weirdness ensues. Like the previous story it involves a character walking through some vaguely unreal desolation in a familiar landscape, except this one actually has some effective escalation of strangeness, though very little of it sticks in my memory. 2.5/5 The Company Town - Nicole Cushing: A dark little parable with an enjoyable twist reminiscent of 'Our Temporary Supervisor' (one of my favourite Ligotti stories). 3/5 The Man Who Escaped This Story - Cody Goodfellow: "I'm a whipping boy. I'm the pain-puppet of an angry, third-rate god." (pg 81) A patient is afflicted with a framing device that allows Goodfellow to couple together a number very strong stories, including one with the funniest, most malevolent depiction of the Devil I have come across since Goethe's 'Faust'. A definite highlight. 5/5 Pieces of Blackness - Michael Kelly: A loveless couple struggle with a nightmare of an adopted child. A deliciously bleak and believeable rendition of a fractured relationship which picks up on repressed masculine anxieties to give the bleakness a potency more hard-hitting, and less abstract, than the isolated anxieties that Ligotti tends to focus on (excepting Frank from 'My Work Is Not Yet Done'). Rather ruined by the Stock Weird Fiction ending however. 4/5 The Blue Star - Eddie M. Angerhuber: I might need to give this another read, since I took very little of it in so will withold judgement until I revist it. N/A 20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism - Jon Padgett: The standout masterpiece of the collection. A legitimate guide to Ventriloquism that escalates with each step into something terrifying. Padgett understands Ligotti's ideas, symbolism and style enough to invogorate it with his own insider expertise as a ventriloquist. Written by Thomas Ligotti's semi-apprentice (in a podcast he tells how Ligotti coached him on this story for twenty years) this is a masterpiece of weird fiction that has the added brilliance of challenging Ligotti's obsession with the annihilation of self by suggesting that it, too, might just be another form of puppetry. Incidentally, the first version of it that he finished was almost 10 000 words longer, but to include it in this collection (it was the last submission) he had to cut it down by two-thirds, which he did by removing all of the characters to create this strange prophecy of a ventriloquist guidebook instead. I look forward to reading his other work. 5/5 The Holiness of Desolation - Robert M. Price: I kinda dread reading the creative work of literary critics, since creating and critiquing are two very separate skills with less crossover than you might expect. Happily, Price applies his knowlege well with an invigorating expansion of Ligotti's 'Vastarien', imagining the life of a resident within that city that finds himself an outsider to the world of sluggish nightmare he inhabits, and tries to escape to the unreality of our own waking world: "I replied that the unreal was not good enough. There had to be a real unreal, and I must find it." (pg 139) This neatly develops Ligotti's exploration of hierarchies of unreality (the idea that there is some more normal reality than this one, despite the fact that this reality is the only experience we have to measure the word 'normal' by) that was so prominent throughout Teatro Grottesco. An excellent ending tops it off that left me dazed, staring at the book and wondering how I have been reductive enough to only consider books as blocks of arranged language. 5/5 Diamond Dust - Michael Griffin: A writer who has been on my radar for a while, I will definitely be looking out for more of him. Taking Ligotti's later, corporate horror stories as a basis, he expands on the paranoia of Ligotti's Frank Dominio by exploring what it is like to see one's family and friends affected by the mindless, irrational expansion of corporate control. Imagine 'The Nightmare Network' seen from the perspective of the people living through the early stages and you'd get something similar to this. 4/5 After the Final - Richard Gavin: The most fanboy-y story in the collection, and depending on your perspective that can make it either soppily cringy in its adherence to Ligotti's work (where someone like Padgett uses his ties to Ligotti to challenge his ideas), or (as I see it) a fun romp of noticing the easter eggs and following the journey of man obsessed with Professor Nobody, who perhaps does not understand his message as well as he thinks he does. I am reminded of an appendix to The Conspiracy Against the Human Race where Ligotti mocks Hemingway's giddy fanboying of a favourite author on their deathbed. 4/5 Eyes Exchange Bank - Scott Nicolay: Whilst it evokes Ligotti's sense of urban, and thereby existential, decay, there was little else to this story that I found interesting. The first few pages are an infodump of character relationships that, since we do not know the characters, are boring to read and conseuqently make the story disengaging. Another practioner of the Familiar Weird Fiction Ending. 2/5 By Invisible Hands - Simon Strantzas: An old puppet-master, too weak to even move around his own house, let alone work, finds himself in the grip of something terrible. Oddly, though the story's pace sagged a little in the middle, the ending was terrifying and distressing enough to prove that the Familiar Weird ending trope can be done well, you just need an author like Simon Strantzas to pull it off. 4/5 Where We Will All Be - Paul. G. Tremblay: I loved this story. It's a skillful blend of Lovecraftian cosmic horror with Ligottian mental health and a brilliant conceit involving moths that conveys the point better than any of Lovecraft's flood of adjectives. 5/5 Gailestis - Allyson Bird: The opening paragraph says everything: "Twins. Non-identical but both with silver hair. Their mother named them Gerda and Kay after the characters from Hans Andersen's 'The Snow Queen'. Her favourite story, she had told them, when they had been old enough for her to read it to them. Born old they were, and acted like it, too. There was no laughter in their lives, just the drudgery of poverty day after day, livigin in a cabin in the woods.Trees [SIC - no spacing] overhung the dwelling, which had once been in a clearing. The mother had died giving birth to them, but on having her fortune told by a wanderer who told her what fate lay in store for her, she put aside two gifts for them. To be given to them on their eighteenth birthday. Her father hid them. (pg 219) ... 1/5 The Prosthesis - Jeffrey Thomas: More corporate horror, this time examining not just the abstract puppetry of humans, or the symbolism of mannikins, but what happens with the artifical fusion of prosthetic limbs to living bodies, or material dolls used for emotional healing, that are required to operate in a horrorific universe. The story is fairly strong during this but then the Familiar Weird ending pops up again and it flops. 3/5 Into the Darkness, Fearlessly - John Langan: Another writer Amazon keeps reccomending to me, and this story has convinced me to look him up. Both this and the final story are excellent, which can be proved by the fact that they were both almost unbearable to read, being too believable, too dark and too uncomfortable to take in single sittings. A publisher recieves a final manuscript from a murdered horror author and ponders the recklessly vile downturn of the writer's last year. The Familiar Weird ending creeps in towards the end but the dread and despair and uncomfortable examination of the writing world, particularly the misogyny that blights many horror authors, excuses the weak conclusion. 5/5 Oubliette - Gemma Files: The second best story in the collection. An anhedonic is admitted to a care center and we follow their journal posts, messages with their therapist and the internet search results of said therapist as they unearth the disturbing reality of the company's policy. Undoubtedly the most powerful exploration of mental health in the collection: It's a great system, really, and I'm honored to have had so much 'input' into its design. At the end of the day, though, I guess I'm just still not sure why there has to be so much care taken that my life, mine, my particular life, isn't destroyed. I'm not sure why I should matter so much, to anyone, aside from basic monetary considerations. And I don't know if any of this qualifies as allowable thought or not - if it's sick, or simply logical. Something anybody else might wonder, given the circumstances. (pg 273) Notable also for its (view spoiler)[ optimistic (hide spoiler)] ending. It rounds out the collection beautifully (view spoiler)[ without compromising on Ligotti's themes of a malevolent universe, and eschewing any happy-clappy positivity about the reality of living with mental illness, Files finds a way to give hope to a lightless universe that is not just surrounded but embedded by a hungering darkness. (hide spoiler)] --- Overall the highs of the collection are more than enough to make up for the duds, and the general quality is good enough to merit the high rating. I would give it four stars, but I am blown away by Goodfellow, Padgett and Files' stories enough to judge the collection by their contributions alone.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Gaze Santos

    On the heels of "A Season in Carcosa," this is yet another great anthology by Miskatonic River Press. This time, the guest of honour is Thomas Ligotti. The stories contained in this book were largely inspired by Thomas Ligotti's horror fiction and nihilist philosophy, and are generally more successful than the stories collected in "Carcosa." Part of the reason for this might be that Thomas Ligotti is a modern writer, so his ideas and aesthetics are easier to adapt into the current setting. The s On the heels of "A Season in Carcosa," this is yet another great anthology by Miskatonic River Press. This time, the guest of honour is Thomas Ligotti. The stories contained in this book were largely inspired by Thomas Ligotti's horror fiction and nihilist philosophy, and are generally more successful than the stories collected in "Carcosa." Part of the reason for this might be that Thomas Ligotti is a modern writer, so his ideas and aesthetics are easier to adapt into the current setting. The same cannot be said for Robert Chamber's creation "The King in Yellow." The horrors contained in these stories are also more existential. There are few monsters and creatures lurking in these pages. Instead you will find degenerate little towns, and decrepit buildings, evil corporations, and lots of puppets.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gilda Sue

    Y’all, this anthology is super good. The stories are collected in tribute to horror/science fiction writer Thomas Ligotti, and editor German Joe Pulver sure knows how to pick ‘em! If I had to pick favorites—which I don’t, of course, but I will. What else have I got to do?—I’d say they were Robin Spriggs’s “The Xenambulist,” Joel Lane’s “Basement Angels”, and “Into the Darkness, Fearlessly” by John Langan. I give it eleven knishes, which means you should run right out and get yourselves a copy. Rea Y’all, this anthology is super good. The stories are collected in tribute to horror/science fiction writer Thomas Ligotti, and editor German Joe Pulver sure knows how to pick ‘em! If I had to pick favorites—which I don’t, of course, but I will. What else have I got to do?—I’d say they were Robin Spriggs’s “The Xenambulist,” Joel Lane’s “Basement Angels”, and “Into the Darkness, Fearlessly” by John Langan. I give it eleven knishes, which means you should run right out and get yourselves a copy. Read on!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Wonderful cover and fantastic dark tales. This is one anthology I look forwards to revisiting in a few years.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Teo Desden

    Cisco, Goodfellow and Padgett stories were excellent. Collection is worth reading for these three alone.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    ****Furnace by Livia Llewellyn: Good surreal horror; I especially liked the overarching narrative of the whole thing coming down to (view spoiler)[a mother who refused to let her daughter go (hide spoiler)] . ****The Lord Came at Twilight by Daniel Mills: Ooh, nice portrayal of a religious apocalypse. I especially liked how the story was centered around the decline in civilization and basic decency. ***The Secrets of the Universe by Michael Cisco: Good premise, but the ending was a bit too confusin ****Furnace by Livia Llewellyn: Good surreal horror; I especially liked the overarching narrative of the whole thing coming down to (view spoiler)[a mother who refused to let her daughter go (hide spoiler)] . ****The Lord Came at Twilight by Daniel Mills: Ooh, nice portrayal of a religious apocalypse. I especially liked how the story was centered around the decline in civilization and basic decency. ***The Secrets of the Universe by Michael Cisco: Good premise, but the ending was a bit too confusing. ***The Human Moth by Kaaron Warren: This comes across as less supernatural than just a very disturbed individual. ****Basement Angels by Joel Lane: Incredibly creepy portrayal of a stalker who preys on the vulnerable, with just enough of the eldritch to make it good horror as well. I like that it's never made explicit what exactly is going on, and that it doesn't need to be made explicit. ****No Signal by Darrell Schweitzer: Very creepy idea. It's like the anti-version of a sleeping reincarnated hero suddenly waking up. ****A Fable in Four Acts by Robin Spriggs: Nice use of atmosphere, especially the part where it's left ambiguous what exactly is going on. ***The Company Town by Nicole Cushing: This one was a little too vague. What's so horrible about what they're doing? Is the father trying to commit suicide or what? ****The Man Who Escaped This Story by Cody Goodfellow: Liked the use of a metafictional setting. ****Pieces of Blackness by Michael Kelly: Ooh, yes. Very good story of a haunting, especially with the reveal there at the end. *****The Blue Star by Eddie M. Angerhuber: I liked pretty much everything about this one, from the slow buildup to the focus on something completely innocuous and turning it to a monstrosity to the horrifying reveal at the end. ****20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism by Jon Padgett: Good buildup from the innocuous to the horrifying. *****The Holiness of Desolation by Robert M. Price: I"m always up for a return to Vastarien. Not to mention a return to that upsetting, visceral, completely human horror when one of its inhabitants is let loose in the real world. ***Diamond Dust by Michael Griffin: Once again, a little bit too vague on where exactly the horror is supposed to lie. ****After the Final by Richard Gavin: As always, I find a return to the more human types of horror equally compelling and viscerally upsetting, but this one was especially effective. *****Eyes Exchange Bank by Scott Nicolay: This one had everything a good horror story should have: a creepy atmosphere that's built on the completely mundane; a slow buildup that doesn't set off too many alarm bells in-universe but is nevertheless enough to signal the reader that something is very, very wrong; and one seriously horrifying punch of an ending that comes from a direction that's completely unexpected, both to the protagonist and to the audience. Well done. ***By Invisible Hands by Simon Strantzas: I'm pretty sure I've already read this one in another anthology. Not to mention the poor editing, including multiple paragraphs that were broken up right in the middle of a sentence, was incredibly distracting. ****Where We Will All Be by Paul G. Tremblay: Very creepy use of mass hypnotism, and I especially liked that (view spoiler)[the protagonist ended up being the only survivor because his brain was different. (hide spoiler)] ***Gailestis by Allyson Bird: Interesting premise, but somewhat weak on the conclusions. ****The Prosthesis by Jeffrey Thomas: Good slow buildup, especially with the twist there at the end. ****Into the Darkness, Fearlessly by John Langan: It did go off the rails a little there at the end, but I did like the portrayal of an entitled brat of a writer who just couldn't stand that some woman won an award instead of him. *****Oubliette by Gemma Files: This is a really good overlap of more traditional horror themes with mental illness, a recurring theme in the work of Thomas Ligotti (to whom this collection is a tribute).

  22. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    I didn't enjoy Ligotti's fiction as much as the hype led me to expect--he has some cool ideas but the bitter characters, cynical tone, and especially the dreamy abstraction put me off. And his aesthetic fixations (puppets, mannequins, corporate anomie, economic decay) mostly do nothing for me. I picked this up because I enjoy a lot of the authors included here and wondered how much they might pull out the good bits and deliver on their potential. Mostly that was not the case. There are a lot of s I didn't enjoy Ligotti's fiction as much as the hype led me to expect--he has some cool ideas but the bitter characters, cynical tone, and especially the dreamy abstraction put me off. And his aesthetic fixations (puppets, mannequins, corporate anomie, economic decay) mostly do nothing for me. I picked this up because I enjoy a lot of the authors included here and wondered how much they might pull out the good bits and deliver on their potential. Mostly that was not the case. There are a lot of stories in here that fit that same Ligotti mold--probably good if you like that stuff but not to my taste. There's jaded office workers and mannequin factories and ventriloquism, and real-life nightmare sequences that play out when people are alone with their dark thoughts. There's even an economically depressed downtown, but spooky. They're psychological but too solipsistic for me. That said, there are a few stories in here I really enjoyed, some by authors I knew to expect that from and others from new discoveries. Kaaron Warren's The Human Moth is stunning--short, lyrical, truly and deeply weird and unsettling, and of course it doesn't hurt that it's about my fav weird horror fantasy thing, humans turning into insects but gross. Allyson Bird's Gailestis is the other standout, and it seems significant that it is largely the opposite of the rest of the tales in the collection--young female protagonist in a swamp dealing with very concrete external evils. I also enjoyed John Langan and Gemma Files' entries quite a bit.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Fatman

    The stories in this anthology capture the essence of Ligotti's writing without being derivative. Here are the ones that I enjoyed most: "Eyes Exchange Bank" by Scott Nicolay - started out strong, kind of lost its way toward the end. "Where We Will All Be", by Paul Tremblay - shows that one can write like a Ligottian story without forgoing plot and structure. "Into the Darkness, Fearlessly", by John Langan "Oubliette", by Gemma Files

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rick Powell

    There is only one way to describe this book. There is a story in this book that is called "Into the Darkness, Fearlessly" written by John Langan. In this story, the main character comes across a manuscript with this title... "A Grammar of Dread, A Catechism of Terror" That is the best way to describe "The Grimscribe's Puppets". This book pays homage to the great Thomas Ligotti in the best way possible. The carefully handpicked authors in here write stories that would make Mr. Ligotti proud. The on There is only one way to describe this book. There is a story in this book that is called "Into the Darkness, Fearlessly" written by John Langan. In this story, the main character comes across a manuscript with this title... "A Grammar of Dread, A Catechism of Terror" That is the best way to describe "The Grimscribe's Puppets". This book pays homage to the great Thomas Ligotti in the best way possible. The carefully handpicked authors in here write stories that would make Mr. Ligotti proud. The ones that stick out in my mind and kept with me for days are No Signal by Darrell Schweitzer, Eyes Exchange Bank by Scott Nicolay, Gailestis by Allyson Bird, The Prosthesis by Jeffrey Thomas, Oubliette by Gemma Files and my favorite by John Langan that I mentioned previously. All the fantastic authors in this book in some way, shape or form have brought their own visions of how Mr. Ligotti have touched them with his style that has made him one of the darkest voices of horror fiction this world has ever seen.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nathaniel

    I'm not sure why so many authors in this collection make the mistake of channeling Thomas Ligotti's style as though it's supposed to be incomprehensible. Having said that, the book picks up towards the end, only to nose dive with the final story. In my view, there are too many stories present here that seem to celebrate structure over substance and often they devolve into navel gazing stylistic detours rather than setting up compelling and frightening scenarios. Ligotti fans should skip this boo I'm not sure why so many authors in this collection make the mistake of channeling Thomas Ligotti's style as though it's supposed to be incomprehensible. Having said that, the book picks up towards the end, only to nose dive with the final story. In my view, there are too many stories present here that seem to celebrate structure over substance and often they devolve into navel gazing stylistic detours rather than setting up compelling and frightening scenarios. Ligotti fans should skip this book and return to the superior source material. Pulver's other collection, A Season in Carcosa is much better and more consistent.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kevin L

    This is an uneven collection, but there are some real gems in here. Four stories in particular stand out above all others for me: *Furnace* by Livia Llewellyn, *By Invisible Hands* by Simon Strantzas, *Where We Will All Be* by Paul Tremblay and, my personal favorite, *Oubliette* by Gemma Files. Files' story was worth the price all on it's own. It is a great _Delta Green_ or _Call of Cthulhu_ flavored story in which I am certain that one of the characters was asked if they would like to go to a n This is an uneven collection, but there are some real gems in here. Four stories in particular stand out above all others for me: *Furnace* by Livia Llewellyn, *By Invisible Hands* by Simon Strantzas, *Where We Will All Be* by Paul Tremblay and, my personal favorite, *Oubliette* by Gemma Files. Files' story was worth the price all on it's own. It is a great _Delta Green_ or _Call of Cthulhu_ flavored story in which I am certain that one of the characters was asked if they would like to go to a night at the opera.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Alkadri

    Not the best horror shorts collection out there, but some of its content successfully creeping towards the reader. Solid 4/5.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Daisy

    This left me scratching my head, I had no idea what most of these stories were trying to say.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ardis Redford

  30. 5 out of 5

    Victor Guerra

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.