It’s a wonderful thing, digging into a new Josh Malerman novel—no idea what to expect, no clue where his twisted mind is going to take you.
I had certain expectations for Unbury Carol. That was foolish. I should know by now, after reading much of Josh Malerman’s output (except, somehow, the one that got everybody talking about him to begin with: Bird Box), that he is not going to deliver the expected. So, when I allowed the title and the synopsis and the cover to lead me to expectations of a western/horror hybrid that would be a dark cross between a fairy tale and a Hammer movie…well, I should have known that wasn’t what I was going to get.
Goblin by Josh Malerman
Earthling Publications (October 2017)
$50 signed & numbered hardcover (limited to 500)
Reviewed by Dave Simms
It’s that time of year again when horror is in the air, a celebrated author is called up, and Earthling Publications churns out another Halloween masterpiece. This year, the newest superstar in the genre, Josh Malerman, takes the helm and delivers one of the best offerings in the history of the series.
Goblin is Derry. It’s Oxrun Station. It’s Cedar Hill. It’s Green Town. It’s all of us in our home towns and yet, it’s something brand new where the greats would likely fear to live. Think of Goblin as Derry’s disturbed little brother.
This book, comprised of a sextet of short novellas, takes the small town motif and shreds it, molding it into something which fills the reader with uneasy pleasure from cover to cover. Malerman, fresh off the success of his second novel Black Mad Wheel and news that Bird Box will soon be a major motion picture, seems to display more skill, more darkness, with each story.
“A Man In Slices” shows how friendship can be a tricky concept. One boy does whatever he can to help his lonely friend, at any cost.
“Kamp” is a lighter tale about a man petrified of a seeing a ghost. Everyone in his family has, and he knows his time is coming. How Walter copes with the expectation will make many reader feel a bit better about their own issues with things that go bump in the night.
“Happy Birthday, Hunter” displays the heart and obsession of a man who cannot give up the hunt. Nash’s addiction comes to a boiling point during his 60th birthday party when he decides to kill Goblin’s most prized game in the north woods, a place from which no one ever returns.
“Presto” is a love affair with magic, the oldest and darkest kind where a young boy seeks to learn the secrets behind his favorite performer in a story which channels classic Bradbury.
“A Mix-Up At The Zoo” details the inner struggle of Dirk, a man who switches jobs to become a tour guide in a zoo, a far cry from his other employment in the slaughterhouse. He finds a talent for understanding the mighty beasts within the cages but feels a certain darkness brewing when he drifts off in thought.
“The Hedges.” Those mazes built in corn and the famed topiary in the film version of The Shining emerge here in the final story of the collection. Young Margot claims to have solved the unsolvable creation by Wayne Sherman. What she finds at the end causes her to alert the Goblin Police, a decision which might be worse than keeping the secret to herself.
The mythology about Goblin’s history is richly drawn within these stories and connects them with a style that keeps the pages turning. Malerman has created a town which may even be darker than King, Grant, and Bradbury’s nightmares. Goblin is all Malerman and should be listed on every horror reader’s itinerary of places to visit, with the lights turned low and the night breeze creeping into the room.
An incredible Halloween find for all.
Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman
Ecco (May 2017)
304 pages; $17.29 hardback; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms
When Bird Box hit the horror scene three years ago, something special happened. Readers discovered a new voice, one which was lyrical and rhythmic but could also turn brutal on the next page. Josh Malerman wrote like a musician carving away at an album of great songs.The result was a true original which should have won the Bram Stoker award.
An Interview with Josh Malerman
Josh Malerman is the author of Bird Box, a standout, Stoker Award-nominated horror debut. He is also the lead singer and songwriter for the band The High Strung. Bird Box continues to receive acclaim and win new fans more than a year after its initial release, and we’re pleased that the author was able to take some time away from preparing his follow-up novel to talk with Cemetery Dance Online.