Category Archives: Ghost Story

Goblin by Josh Malerman

 

Stars: 3 out of 5

This was a meh kind of book. It’s a series of short stories book ended by the story of a delivery driver bringing something terrifying to the city of Goblin. The short stories are related only by the location where they happen – the city of Goblin on the same particularly rainy day and night. 

I think that was one of the reasons the book was kinda meh to me. Yes, Goblin in itself is an interesting, if rather unhappy place. A place for the spirits. A place where humans were never supposed to settle and thrive. The short stories illustrate the eeriness of Goblin perfectly. Problem is, they don’t do much more than that. 

I read a book mostly for the characters and then for the worldbuilding. I notice that I tend to lose interest if I don’t have anybody to root for. If I don’t have a tour guide through the world the author is showing me. And that’s what happened here. Goblin is a fascinating place. Unfortunately, the people who live there are a lot less so.

We read stories of several different people who are not connected to each other, so it’s already hard to figure out why we should follow these characters or even care. Those stories are also not connected at all to the prolog, where a delivery driver is bringing something to Goblin. Something horrible… Well, Goblin already has plenty of horrible things. There is the Goblin police, the Witch of the North Woods, the owls, etc. So by the time that horrible thing finally reaches Goblin, it’s rather anticlimactic. It’s just another monster to add to a city already full of them. What’s the point?

Also, none of the stories we read about have any real resolutions, apart from the story of the man who was afraid of the ghosts. That one, we see to it’s logical conclusion. The rest of them leave is suspended in the air, without an explanation or a conclusion to them. I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to say.  And the arrival of this great terrible thing in the end isn’t enough to satisfyingly end any of those stories. 

In conclusion, it was an okay book to pass the time with, but I probably won’t remember what it is about in a month or so. This is the third book by this author I’ve read and found rather underwhelming, so I think I’m just not the intended audience here. A lot of people love these books, so your mileage might vary. 

PS: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Nothing but Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

Stars: 2.5 out of 5

I have a hard time formulating my feelings towards this story. On one hand, it was a quick and easy read. The amount of research that went into the Japanese folklore and traditional housing was impressive, though I kept getting a lot of Fatal Frame vibes out of it. Which isn’t bad in itself, because that game scared the crap out of me.

On the other hand, the story itself is rather meh, at least to me. 

It’s a typical haunted house story where a group of friends decide to spend the night in a reputedly haunted house and bad things happen. Well, in this case, two of the friends want to get married in that particular haunted house, like starting your married life by drawing attention of a ghost is such a good idea.

So the premise has been done before. In fact, that’s like the classic of all slasher/horror movies – a group of friends in a confined space, getting offed one by one in horrible ways… Thankfully, this is a ghost story, not a slasher story, so the bloodshed won’t be as pronounced.

My problem with this story is that I hated all of the characters. They were horrible people both to themselves and to each other. Honestly, I had no clue how they could even call each other friends. It seemed like they all hated each other guts. Nothing in their behavior spoke of friendship. Of old resentments that have been left to fester? Yes. Of past infidelities that nobody speaks about but are still there, like a big elephant in the room? Certainly. Real friendship? Not a trace. 

So it doesn’t seem plausible, at least to me, that the protagonist would insist on staying in that house and would follow along with their crazy schemes. From the little background we get on her, I would have imagined that she would have high tailed out of there ASAP, just like their friend Lin suggests. That all “I’m staying because they are my friends” line isn’t plausible when you consider the relationship dynamics described in the book. That’s no friendship. That’s co-dependent abuse.

And because all of the protagonists were such horrible people, I couldn’t care less what happened to them, which also diminished the impact of the story for me. In fact, I’m rather disappointed that more of them didn’t die in that house. If none of them had walked out of there come morning, I would have cheered, actually.

I am beginning to think that this author just isn’t for me. She is great at creating interesting and frankly disturbing worlds and premises, but I simply can’t connect with her characters. I had that problem with the Rupert Wong series, and I have that problem with this novella as well.

PS: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.