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Poe's Children: The New Horror

3.43  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,375 Ratings  ·  165 Reviews
From the incomparable master of horror and suspense comes an electrifying collection of contemporary literary horror, with stories from twenty-five writers representing today’s most talented voices in the genre.

Horror writing is usually associated with formulaic gore, but New Wave horror writers have more in common with the wildly inventive, evocative spookiness of Edgar
Hardcover, 544 pages
Published October 14th 2008 by Doubleday (first published January 1st 2008)
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Baby Teeth by Dan RabartsFresh Fear by William   CookRead the End First by Suzanne RobbZippered Flesh by Weldon BurgeDead Harvest by Mark Parker
Best Horror Anthologies
112th out of 345 books — 645 voters
Nine Stories by J.D. SalingerThe Complete Stories and Poems by Edgar Allan PoeA Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'ConnorDubliners by James JoyceThe Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
Collections of Short Stories
323rd out of 2,081 books — 1,555 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nandakishore Varma
Oct 02, 2015 Nandakishore Varma rated it liked it
Peter Straub is out to prove a point: horror fiction can be literary. It is not necessarily hack. Edgar Allan Poe wrote macabre fiction (and poetry), and he is considered one of America's classic authors - so why not these new purveyors of nightmares?

Well, I agree. For example, nobody in their right mind would call Stephen King a hack: and there are many others in that category - Straub himself, Ramsey Campbell, Joe Hill et al. The only question is whether they would be considered literary. It s
Nov 10, 2015 Joseph rated it it was ok
The cover of Poe's Children features creepy dolls, though none of the stories contained within feature creepy dolls. The illustration is a joke. As explained in the introduction, it's the sort of imagery most people expect from horror; but this collection is different! These stories don't conform to the horror storytelling standard. Here, a story fits in the horror genre if it meets any of the following criteria; something kinda creepy happens, the narrative is unclear, the cast includes a ghost ...more
Erika Schoeps
Jun 10, 2014 Erika Schoeps rated it liked it
Overall: 3 stars

The Bees: 4 stars
Cleopatra Brimstone: 4 stars
The Man on the Ceiling: 3 stars. The writing of this piece is intentionally obscure, and it can be kind of annoying… but overall, a beautifully written story with a deeper meaning lurking beneath the heavy-handed writing.
The Great God Pan: 1 star. I have no idea what’s going on here, and the characters are SO annoying. I couldn’t finish it.
The Voice of the Beach: 1.5 stars. I managed to finish this one, but it was still pretty horrible
In the introduction to this anthology, Peter Straub describes his goal in putting together these 24 contemporary horror stories. Basically, he wanted to prove that the horror genre is more than the scary monsters, blood, gore, and cheesy book covers that most people associate with it. He wanted to show that the horror genre is a legitimate literary genre and can be considered more "literary" than people have considered it before. This collection had nothing to do with putting together "scary" st ...more
Feb 14, 2014 hhhell rated it liked it
As several reviewers stated below, horror doesn't get nearly as much credit as it deserves; so, I encourage other horror enthusiasts to read whatever they can get their hands on. But if I had to compile an 'ultimate list' of recommendations, Poe's Children wouldn't be on it.

I started reading Poe's Children in high school and still haven't finished. (It's been several years now.) The stories are painfully slow, and often, the endings were so anti-climactic and strange (and not in a good way) tha
Dec 19, 2013 Lauder rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Horror is an absolutely amazing genre, so when I picked up Poe’s Children, edited by Peter Straub, I believe I held in my hands a source of horror that would terrify and thrill me.

But this novel is nothing more than multiple dead trees filled with annoyance and arrogance.

Yet somehow Straub believes a reader should be “fortunate” enough to read these authors that he has painstakingly thrown together. Personally, I do not believe Straub has created an astonishing anthology; these stories, instead
Nov 18, 2009 Issy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: couldntfinish
This was not scary. Not even remotely. Poe's great-great-step-god-children.
Mar 12, 2013 Zach rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, horror
In which Peter Straub sets out to broaden the umbrella of “horror” beyond the stereotypical blood-and-guts sensationalism typically associated with it. He succeeds at this so well that I had a hard time figuring out exactly what made some of these stories fit into the genre at all.

Dan Chaon - “The Bees” - A husband and father is haunted (literally or metaphorically?) by the first wife and child he abandoned during his drinking days. Impressively dark and downtrodden, although one wishes the two
Jan 09, 2009 Jessica rated it did not like it
I have really been striking out lately. This book was so-so at best. I normally like anything weird, creepy and out there, but most of these stories were pointless. I would recommend reading the following four and skipping the rest:
-Ballad of the Flexible Bullet
-The Sadness of Detail
-Black Dust
-October in the Chair
Nov 07, 2014 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, short-stories
Great pieces by Don Chaon, Elizabeth Hand, the Tems, Thomas Ligotti, Joe Hill and Jonathan Carroll. Really awful stuff from Brian Evenson, Glen Hirshberg, Benjamin Percy and Straub himself. Everything else is just about average.
Aug 09, 2009 Maicie rated it liked it
The new horror, huh? I must like old horror.
Mar 29, 2014 Alex rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
I’m glad I borrowed this from the library and only spent time suffering through this collection. There are individual selections in this that are worth the time. However, go read them in the authors’ collections as it will yield a significantly better experience. Here’s three collections you should read instead of this one:

“Cold Print” by Ramsey Campbell
“20th Century Ghosts” by Joe Hill
“Songs of a Dead Dreamer” by Thomas Ligotti

Going through my notes I really enjoyed six stories from this collec
Scott  Fletcher
Apr 14, 2013 Scott Fletcher rated it really liked it
Really, really good. Obviously this is a short story anthology collecting works from different authors so you're going to love some, hate some, and be really confused by some; but, overall, I'd say that this was a very decent read and the stories I loved made up for those I didn't and for those that made me wonder what the heck the author was thinking when they wrote it. Before I go into which stories I like the best, I will have to say that I was really surprised many of them were collected in ...more
John Wiswell
Mar 01, 2009 John Wiswell rated it liked it
This is advertised as a Horror anthology, but it is not. It is not even a Literary Horror anthology. It is an anthology for the kinds of short fiction that don’t fit in traditional Horror, Gothic, Fantasy or Science Fiction, with an emphasis on literary expression over storytelling. Only the most impressionable readers will be scared of any of the shorts contained within. Instead, corpses, ghosts and madmen are refurbished to fiction that speculates on the nature of life, creativity, angst, chil ...more
Oct 27, 2012 Pamster rated it liked it
Several stories I'd already read in the authors' collections. The Kelly Link and Shelley Jackson stories were two of these, but rereading them in this other context was AWESOME. "The Man on the Ceiling," written by a married couple ( . . . ) was the basis of a novel of the same name that got a lot of praise. I tried to read a few years ago, specifically looking to see what was up with currently acclaimed and cutting edge horror, and I just could not finish it and the story made me mad about it a ...more
Nov 28, 2015 Sarah rated it did not like it
First, I did not finish this book. I was going to, but I just could not bear to pick it back up despite keeping it well past the book club "due date." The stories were somewhat odd, mostly confusing, and did not live up to the title. There was no unifying thread to this collection despite being sold as a bunch of horror stories. None of them would really be considered horror stories because of the lack of fear factor. I understand that the collection was supposed to be a different type of horror ...more
Feb 06, 2015 Raelynn rated it it was ok
Placing Poe's name on this collection of stories is almost sacrilege. I don't know why I put myself through them all. The only reason this managed to get 2 stars was for Neil Gaiman's "October in the Chair" (I really wished it were longer entire novel longer). Honorable mentions are The Bees, The Man on the Ceiling, and The Voice of the Beach (tolerable). A couple stories such as "The Sadness of Detail" and "20th Century Ghost" had promise, but failed to deliver a whole package. 5 stars ...more
Nikka Calindas
Jul 21, 2014 Nikka Calindas rated it it was ok
I have to admit, the one thing that led me to buy this book was the awesome cover. What can I say? Color me noir, I guess. But as I go through the short stories, they had somehow come up short from what I truly expect from the horror stories that were spawn by the master of suspense, Edgar Allan Poe. This collection of short stories feels more like an insult to the great man's memory rather than a salute to his genius.

Nevertheless, there are still great stories embedded in this collection though
Mar 07, 2011 Chris rated it really liked it
Wondering if any of my friends on Goodreads has read this. It has some pretty bad reviews on Amazon! Anyone??????????
Well....I just finished reading this collection. I enjoyed most of the stories in the book. Personally, I was disappointed by the S. King and J. Hill stories, since I'd read both of them previously in other books. I would recommend it to anyone who, like myself, likes the freedom of reading short stories. When you HAVE to put your book down for a while, it doesn't matter, because
William Hage
Sep 08, 2014 William Hage rated it it was ok

These are not Poe's children.

Peter Straub wanted to create a collection without the blood and gore that is associated with a lot of the horror genre. He wanted to showcase what he calls 'literary horror' and he did far from that.

This book as some other reviews have pointed out is painfully slow and most of the stories have nothing to do with horror at all. There are a few good stories, but the bad ones outweigh the good by a great deal.

I'm not a huge King fan, (His work is hit or miss with me
Jun 06, 2014 Catfantastic rated it really liked it
I'm torn on this one, but going back over the list of stories, I think it was probably quite good. There are some lovely stories in this collection. "The Voice of the Beach" was by far my favourite, but I also very much enjoyed "The Kiss," "Louise's Ghost," "20th Century Ghost," and "Leda." It just ended on what, for me, is a very frustrating note.

I find that a lot of contemporary short horror feels like it's being narrated through a thick mist, with curiously detached characters taking actions
Sep 30, 2015 Addison rated it really liked it
Poe's Children was an interesting adaptation on current horror, and, although I think it should be labeled as physiology, instead of horror. Straub's collection varies on that scale, and hardly any of the stories are true horror.

The stories in themselves were intricate and interesting, and required quite a lot of thought, however none of them were very intense, and only one or two stories even included the thought of death (A common topic of Poes), thus making the title inappropriate, but perhap
Jun 24, 2014 Lois rated it it was ok
Shelves: gave-up-on
I used to devour short stories, but nowadays, unless they're really, really good, and hopefully have some kind of point to the story they're telling, I just don't have the patience. I'd rather get involved in a really long book with a continuous story line. I got about 1/3rd thru this book and none of the stories had been all that appealing to me yet, so even tho there may be a hidden gem amongst the rest that are left, I'm stopping there. I did scan a bit thru the rest tho, and they seemed to b ...more
Gordon Burroughs
Oct 07, 2015 Gordon Burroughs rated it did not like it
Shelves: bookclub-books
The editor clearly has a different definition of horror in mind when he collected these stories. Some of them were well written and engaging, while others were a hot mess.
Christina Wilder
The stories had their moments, but if you're looking for actual horror instead of a collection of weird reads, you might want to skip this one.
Rachel d.
A couple of authors from this anthology were worth checking in too, but overall not that impressive...
Nov 04, 2010 Dan rated it it was amazing
The premise of this Peter Straub edited anthology is that, despite all appearances to the contrary, there are authors in the horror genre who are worthy successors to the literary, artful fiction of Edgar Allen Poe. Straub seems to be setting out to prove that there are great writers in this genre and that horror fiction can and occasionally does rise to the lofty title of literature.

Like any genre, horror is littered with derivative, formulaic, gratuitous crap, but there are writers who have ri
May 13, 2009 Jan rated it liked it
Okay, I'll fess up -- I didn't actually read this entire collection, which my husband described as "okay." Instead, I read only the pieces he marked as worth reading. Of these, the stories "Louise's Ghost" by Kelly Link and "October in the Chair" by Neil Gaiman were probably worth checking the whole book out of the library, if not buying it.

"Louise's Ghost" was magical realism with a very strong, humorous voice. It made me want to go right out and read Link's debut book, and as soon as I finish
Feb 08, 2011 Brandy rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
Overall I enjoyed this anthology. As with any short story collection everyone will have different stories they love and hate. I am not going to recap all the stories here. I figure if you want to read them, do so. I did not think any were bad enough to make me warn a potential reader about a particular story.

My biggest complaint is that some of the stories really have no horror or even fantastical element in them at all. This does not make them bad stories just a bit puzzled at their inclusion i
Scott Rhee
Jul 23, 2012 Scott Rhee rated it liked it
Shelves: horror, short-stories
The horror genre doesn't often get a lot of respect or recognition, and probably for good reason. There are, admittedly, a lot of piss-poor writers working in the genre, and the genre does tend to follow very demographically-biased trends. (Right now, the "in" thing in the horror genre is zombies. I love zombies, but there is such a thing as saturating the market...) There are, however, a lot of really great writers working in the genre, many of which continually cross over and overlap into "lit ...more
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Cleopatra Brimstone 5 84 Nov 06, 2014 08:54AM  
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Peter Straub was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 2 March, 1943, the first of three sons of a salesman and a nurse. The salesman wanted him to become an athlete, the nurse thought he would do well as either a doctor or a Lutheran minister, but all he wanted to do was to learn to read.

When kindergarten turned out to be a stupefyingly banal disappointment devoted to cutting animal shapes out of heavy
More about Peter Straub...

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“...the materials of genre - specifically the paired genres of horror and the fantastic - in no way require the constrictions of formulaic treatment, and in fact naturally extend and evolve into the methods and concerns of its wider context, general literature.” 2 likes
“Her earliest memory was of wings. Luminous red and blue, yellow and green and orange; a black so rich it appeared liquid, edible. They moved above her and the sunlight made them glow as though they were themselves made of light, fragments of another, brighter world falling to earth about her crib. Her tiny hands stretched upwards to grasp them but could not: they were too elusive, too radiant, too much of the air.” 1 likes
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