Josh Malerman invites you to take a walk through the rain-sodden streets of Goblin, a City populated by the weird and the wonderful. A City with stories to tell, stories that will captivate you, make you laugh, chill you to the bone, make you want to pull a loved one closer.
Goblin, the third novel from Josh Malerman, is a limited edition publication from Earthling (Pre-order information is at the bottom of this review) that consists of 6 novellas that for me perfectly echo the classic TV anthology shows I used to watch as a kid. From the horrors of Creepshow and Tales From The Crypt to the wonders of the Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.
Each story works individually but together they’re linked, sharing characters and locations. Events in one story, although slight have a knock on effect to another. Goblin is a living, breathing City. No word is wasted in creating Goblin and it’s inhabitants. The people of Goblin are, mostly, very human. Normal people like you, or I, living with the understanding that the fantastique is part of their normality. In Goblin, people can be just as monstrous as whatever’s rumoured to live in the North Woods.
An unusual friendship is the centrepiece of A Man In Slices, an incredibly dark tale that sparked with some very amusing dialogue. The swim camp sequence was fantastically written that escalated the darkness superbly till the satisfying, although not entirely surprising ending. A man so terrified of being scared to death by a ghost is the premise of Kamp. Walter Kamp goes to extreme lengths so that nothing can creep up on him in his apartment. How I’ve never though of Malerman’s answer to the ‘monster under the bed’ is beyond me. Such a simple idea, genius! Big game hunter Neal Nash is celebrating his 60th Birthday in Happy Birthday, Hunter. Nash has killed a lot but still has animals on his hunting wish list, one of which is the protected Goblin Great Owl. Seems it’s a good idea to go try to bag one whilst drunk with some of his friends, at night, in the middle of the North Woods…what could possibly go wrong? Presto is a wonderful tale about a boy finally having the opportunity to see his favourite magician, Roman Emporer. Other magicians on the circuit don’t like Roman, they suspect him of practising ‘dirty magic’. The audience is in for one hell of a performance at the midnight performance in the Goblin Domino Theatre. There’s plenty going on in this story but it’s Pete and his open-eyed wonder that I enjoyed the most. Next we follow Dirk Rogers’ descent into madness whilst alternating jobs at both the Goblin Slaughterhouse and the Goblin Zoo. A Mix-Up At The Zoo has a different writing style to anything else in the book. It’s a fantastic piece, with some stunning imagery, although for me it didn’t fit as neatly into the concept as the other tales. The last story from Goblin sees a girl get to the end of Goblin’s biggest maze, a tourist attraction known as The Hedges. No-one has ever done it before, so when she reports what she finds at the end of the maze to the Goblin Police, the attractions creator goes on the run…and ultimately ends up in the North Woods. Malerman writes kids very well, Margot is a delight. She’s a little madam but as the story progresses she displays an innocence that’s wonderful to read. I’d be very interested to hear the authors thinking behind the Goblin Police, they’re referred to a lot throughout the book, mostly with a sense of fear. So when Margot gets to the Police Station and we finally get to see them, it’s…wonderfully…bizarre! Either side of these six novellas a Prologue/Epilogue that bookend Goblin perfectly, with the Prologue giving a very strong Creepshow vibe.
Josh Malerman has not only written the best book I’ve read this year, with Goblin he’s written the best book I’ve read in the last few years. The pages couldn’t be turned quickly enough, I was completely under his spell, so much so I was upset once I had finished reading. There must be a multitude of stories waiting to be told, I genuinely hope that Malerman has more planned.
Goblin is an absolute triumph, wonderful characters, fantastic stories and in Goblin, a place you will want to return to again and again.
Star Rating (out of 5): 5*****
Firstly, I’d like to thank Paul Miller at Earthling Publications for sending me an advance copy of Goblin.
Secondly, to Josh Malerman who has written a story that has utterly reignited my passion for reading…Thank you!
Goblin is to be released as an extra special book to celebrate the 13th year of Earthling’s Halloween Series. It’s only going to be available via Earthling Publications and will be limited to 500 numbered and 15 lettered signed by Josh Malerman.
Please go to www.earthlingpub.com for preorders which should be live from the 14th August.
Praise for Goblin
“Goblin 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.” –Dave Simms, Cemetery Dance Online
“Goblin is a mesmerizing, terrifying tight-rope walk.” –Clive Barker
“Malerman has created a Derry for a new generation.” –Sarah Pinborough
“Goblin is another triumph from Josh Malerman.” —Christopher Golden
“A perfectly-realized universe that’s sometimes hilarious, and often horrifying.” —Mark Alan Miller
“Goblin’s charm will beckon you, its citizens will dance like ghosts in your mind.”—James Henry Hall
“Goblin proves what I’ve been saying for the last few years: Malerman is becoming one of the true greats in weird fiction. He is the genre’s new dark prince!” —Jonathan Maberry