Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Wormwood: A Collection of Short Stories” as Want to Read:
Wormwood: A Collection of Short Stories
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Wormwood: A Collection of Short Stories

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  4,481 Ratings  ·  102 Reviews
A collection of erotic horror stories follows the adventures of solace-seeking lonelyhearts on a North Carolina highway, behind a dusty Georgia carny show, in a Baton Rouge mausoleum, and an alley in Calcutta.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 1st 1995 by Dell (first published 1993)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Wormwood, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Wormwood

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
J.w. Schnarr
Aug 20, 2013 J.w. Schnarr rated it it was amazing
I rescued this book at the Calgary Horror Con because I couldn't stand to see it sitting there like an orphaned puppy, waiting for someone to pick it up. This kind of puppy, however, is for very special owners. It drinks human blood and shifts in and out of reality like a shadow in a strobe light.

For those who have not been exposed to Poppy's work, this is an excellent primer for what is to come. And, honestly, if you haven't read at least something by Poppy Z. Brite,your horror education is sor
Spencer Distraction
Mar 13, 2013 Spencer Distraction rated it it was amazing
I actually have the original version of this, called 'Swamp Foetus'. Yes, I'm gloating.
Jul 01, 2008 Kristen rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
Every once in a while you stumble across an artist who is in the wrong time… Poppy is one of those authors, and artist who seems as if she was born too late to be happy. From reading her stories you can envision her walking with the likes of Lovecraft and Poe. I assume they would discuss language, the beauty of the written word and the terrors of their hearts. Brite has a style that harkens back to the 1800’s when flowing language and beauty could be found in even the darkest of tales. This coll ...more
Adam Light
Dec 09, 2014 Adam Light rated it really liked it
This was my first Poppy Z. Brite read.
There were some excellent stories here, my favorites being Calcutta, Lord of Nerves and The Sixth Sentinel.
Great collection, and I'm glad I finally gave this author a read.
Sep 26, 2009 Nancy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror, short-stories
Gorgeous prose, unforgettable images. These stories are very dark, heartbreaking and visceral.
Robert Beveridge
Jan 20, 2008 Robert Beveridge rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished
Poppy Z. Brite, Wormwood (Dell, 1994)

This relatively early collection of stories (her first collection, and third published work, previously known as Swamp Foetus), collects stories written between 1986 and 1992. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the book is watching the progression between the earlier and the later stories; you can tell before getting to the end (each is dated) which are which, after an example or two of each.

This isn't to say the earlier stories are bad, they're just ra
Twelve stories of artists cursed with dangerous talents and intimacies shared even after death and further tales of Lost Souls's Steve and Ghost. In an otherwise useless introduction, Dan Simmons writes that Brite's "work may be described--perhaps even by her--as 'splatterpunk,' but it is not" (xxiv). Brite's (early) fiction is as lush as it is repulsive, often entrenched in the humid South, at its best taking the guts and gore of what might be splatterpunk to a level which is resonant and haunt ...more
May 22, 2012 NADIA rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well to be honest, I have read all of the Poppy Z Brite Gothic horror novels and short stories. The Forward states that this is one of her first pieces of work..or something to that effect.

Ms Brite is one of my favorite writers - there are no boundaries with this woman, however I found these stories a little too cliche with the whole skinny, pale, thin, goth thing. It feels like she just started out when she wrote these stories and because I have read everything else by Poppy, it fell a little s
Nov 01, 2014 Cindy rated it it was ok
This wasn't the worst collection of short stories I've read, but they just did not appeal to me. I don't mind that they're dark and rather disturbing. No, it's more that they just did not seem to get to the point - the author's prose was descriptive and very apt to the subject matter. The anthology was published in the 90s but that does not hamper its style. There were a few bright spots - times when flashes of brilliance peeked through - I thought that 'Optional Music for Voice and Piano' was s ...more
J.S. Bailey
Feb 12, 2013 J.S. Bailey rated it it was ok
I've been reading this collection of stories slowly over the past few weeks. I knew they were going to be gross due to what I know about the genre that Ms. Brite writes in, but some of them were downright icky. I only read this book because I wanted to try out something different for a change--and different is definitely what I got!

Aside from the ickiness contained therein, I thought that most of the stories in this collection were mediocre. Some of them could have been better developed than the
Feb 19, 2016 Lydia rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbtiqa
The third book I read as part of my Poppy Z. Brite (now Billy Martin) phase years ago.

I do remember certain characters quite vividly and I really liked some of the stories. And some of the stories I just didn't connect with at all. I felt that some of the characters were a little bit flat -- it's hard to develop characters with a lot of depth in just a few short pages.

I think the missing element here was Martin's classic New Orleans atmosphere that he's so well-known for. Some of the stories ha
Aug 16, 2012 Carrie rated it it was amazing
This was my first Poppy Z Brite book and I loved it. It combined two of my favorite things, short stories and horror. I was sucked into each story within just a few sentences. Poppy's power of description is outstanding, I was always a bit bummed when a story ended; each story could easily go on as a novel. There was a mixture of ghosts, psychic darkness, zombies, gore, emotional darkness, voodoo, dystopia, and humans in situations and
with feelings so easy to relate to it's easy to imagine your
One day I am going to go to New Orleans & see if the city truly is the witchy, pansexual, decadent place that everyone makes it out to be. But until then, here is another book under my belt by a NOLA writer. I appreciate Brite's unique voice & the love she has for her characters. This collection was a great way to kill an afternoon, but by the time I got to the last half of the book, I was already familiar with the characters & plot twists she had set up in the first half of the book ...more
Joshua Gross
Sep 25, 2012 Joshua Gross rated it liked it
Some of these stories I really enjoyed and some of them were just ok and some of just didn't do anything for me. On the other hand, I found the prologue by Dan Simmons highly entertaining. Dan Simmons showed that he was arrogant old kook, and I'm exceptionally curious as to why he has/had such a boner for Poppy Z. Brite...
Shelley HW
Sep 09, 2009 Shelley HW rated it it was ok
Shelves: i-own
I think Poppy Z. Brite is an excellent writer with amazing imagery in every sentence, but this was a little too gross for me. I enjoyed the poetic style but I didn't get much out of each story.
Christy Stewart
Poppy Z. Brite should re-write all the American classics and then I might be inclined to read one of them.
Apr 29, 2016 S. rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-and-owned
It's like living in a song by The Cure.
Oct 10, 2016 Ray rated it really liked it
pre good reads
Sep 21, 2016 Leif rated it liked it
There is a lot of teased hair and pale skin in these stories.

Very much a group of tales for the goth set. So much so that I could hear the Cure being played and, I'm sure, some Sandman comics being talked about.

Great writing, just not my thing.

I may check out a proper novel by this writer...not for a bit though.
Je découvre Poppy Z. Brite version "nouvelles".
Un chronique qui me rappelle à l'ordre, car je n'ai toujours pas écrite ma note sur "Alcool", mon coup de coeur 2010 (lu en octobre).
Donc incursion dans le petit monde de Poppy Z.B., cet univers fantastique, glauque et putride que j'avais côtoyé lors de ma lecture "d'Ames perdues".
En entrant dans ce recueil, me voilà en terre un peu connue. La première nouvelle met en scène Ghost et Steve, les deux jeunes artistes du groupe Losts Souls, personnages
Adrian Chamberlin

My first introduction to the works of renowned horror writer Poppy Z Brite. NB: - I believe the US edition is entitled WORMWOOD.

An intriguing introduction from Dan Simmons (Hyperion, Song of Kali)whets the appetite. He came across the works of Ms Brite via a reading of her tale "Calcutta, Lord of Nerves" at a SF conference and was blown away.

That story is without a doubt one of the highlights of this collection. I myself am a sucker for tales of horror set in far off, exotic l
Nicole Field
Apr 24, 2013 Nicole Field rated it really liked it
It's that time of month again, when all those books I was halfway through a week ago get finished one after the other.

I don't really tend to read short story compilations. The trouble with short stories and me (reading or writing them) is that just as I start getting into them, they wrap up. Also, in a collection of short stories, the anthology is only as good as its weaker piece.

On the whole, though, this collection was invigorating and devastating and full of such gems of completely perfect w
Jul 27, 2016 Amber rated it really liked it
Okay, so...

First, I'm not clever enough to get why all of this super intelligent. It's obviously well-written, but that's about all of it that I picked up on. I've also only read Drawing Blood.

I think a large part of me missing the "real" story was because I was so preoccupied trying to read signs of body dysphoria in Poppy Brite, ie how his writing might've changed in the "before" and "after." Of course, I should probably see what he has actually said about the subject, or to let it go. And w
Jul 16, 2010 Fence added it
Shelves: sff, short-stories
I’ve said before that in most cases for me to really love a book I have to have well written/developed characters which is possibly why short stories don’t always grab me; they just don’t have the time or space to develop the characters. So is the case with these short stories by Brite. For the most part the writing is excellent. The stories themselves very atmospheric and, in the main, creepy and so perfect for the RIP Challenge, but I just didn’t care about the characters at all. In the first ...more
Apr 12, 2015 Bjorn rated it liked it
It took me a while to get back around to reading this book, but when I did, it only took a couple of days to finish. I'm a little ambivalent about the stories in this collection because while much of the prose is absolutely beautiful, some of the stories just didn't do it for me. Perhaps it was some of the characters' melodramatic "goth-ness" (for lack of a better term) that had me rolling my eyes or the sometimes uncomfortably erotic descriptions of death and its trappings that turned me off. T ...more
Oct 12, 2007 Ben rated it it was ok
I love Poppy Z. Brite. She says in her FAQ that she's finished with the whole "pasty-faced goth" thing, and she isn't kidding. These stories date mostly back from the time when she wasn't yet, and they have some of the naivete you'd expect from that -- but not as much as you might think. She was, and is, a very insightful author, and her style reflects a fantastic talent for going all the way to gross-out without ever losing the feel of poetry, the Romantic fascination with the very beautiful an ...more
Jo Anne
Jul 21, 2014 Jo Anne rated it really liked it
I recently read Poppy Z. Brite's novel Lost Souls and while I liked it very much, this collection of short stories quickly passed Lost Souls by. Wormwood is gory and sickening and heartbreaking as each story introduces a broken human being. My favorite, and for me, the most heartbreaking, is The Ash of Memory, the Dust of Desire. Leah is loved by both Jonny and Cleve, and when she finds herself pregnant, doesn't know which man is the father. No matter as she has arranged for an abortion. Jonny i ...more
Trevor Firetog
Nov 29, 2013 Trevor Firetog rated it it was amazing
As I grow older, I find myself starting to enjoy Poppy Z. Brite's work more and more. There were stories in this collection that I enjoyed more than others, but the fact that I could not find a weak story really speaks to Poppy as an author. I really wish Poppy still wrote books.

I hope I don't sound depraved when I say that this collection has everything that makes me happy: Love, death, romance, darkness, sadness, blood, ect. For me, it's just perfect. And though most of these stories are homoe
Jam Alcid
Apr 07, 2013 Jam Alcid rated it liked it
It is said that a certain darkness is needed to see the stars. In Wormwood's case, the darkness is Poppy Brite's mind and the stars are the narratives inside this gem of a book.

Sure, it was at times gross to the point that I am mentally scarred, but it was all necessary because those great details complete the landscape of her stories. Imagine if she held back.. if she censored her mind and killed those gritty images.. I doubt that she'll ever come up with genius material such as the ones inside
Apr 12, 2014 Stephanie rated it it was ok
I read this many years ago and thought it was like the best thing ever. I happened upon a used copy recently and decided to reread. Not a good idea, this time around, aside from the two Steve and Ghost stories, I found the majority of the stories blah at best. characters were underdeveloped and the storylines meh at best. It seemed as though she sacrificed character and story development to amp up gross out / freak out factors. This is a good book for an emo goth kid, a waste of time for anyone ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Splatterpunks II: Over the Edge
  • Low Red Moon
  • Wild Blood
  • Personal Darkness (Blood Opera Sequence, #2)
  • Skin
  • Hot Blood: Tales of Erotic Horror
  • Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque
  • Vampire Thrall (Vampires, #2)
  • The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Tenth Annual Collection
  • Bending the Landscape: Original Gay and Lesbian Horror Writing
  • In the Flesh (Books of Blood #5)
  • The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction (Issue One)
  • Blood and Water and Other Tales
  • Martyrs and Monsters
  • The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft
  • I Shudder at Your Touch
Poppy Z. Brite (born Melissa Ann Brite, now going by Billy Martin) is an American author born in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Born a biological female, Brite has written and talked much about his gender dysphoria/gender identity issues. He self-identifies almost completely as a homosexual male rather than female, and as of 2011 has started taking testosterone injections. His male name is Billy Martin.

More about Poppy Z. Brite...

Share This Book

“You hold onto what you have; you do not give it up easily, even when you know it is poisoning you.” 75 likes
“With the first kiss his mouth will taste of wormwood.” 15 likes
More quotes…