Ballantine. May 2021. 400p. ISBN 9780593237809. $28. HORROR
Originally available in a very limited edition that’s now out of print, Malerman’s (Bird Box) 2017 work is a tale about a town named Goblin that has a horrific past, shady characters across its history, and lots and lots of rain. It’s a book told in pieces—six novellas and a pair of framing stories; the first story, “A Man in Slices,” is a fitting way to start things off, with a quite literal deconstruction of the burdens of toxic friendship. From there, we see the darkest shades of Bradbury, but also Harlan Ellison and, yes, Stephen King. It’s hard not to compare the town of Goblin to King’s haunted Derry. But at its heart, Goblin is all Malerman. Throughout the stories, he writes like a downhill train, weaving Goblin’s past and present into one rain-soaked horror show with stories featuring, among others, a man obsessed with being scared to death by a ghost; a hunter with forbidden game on his mind; and a magician whose magic might not be “clean.”
VERDICT These stories offer up a history lesson and guided tour of a severely troubled town. The writer-as-tour-guide is very clearly enjoying the trip, and it’s impossible not to revel in the dark glee.
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