Occultation and Other Stories
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Occultation and Other Stories

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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  718 ratings  ·  94 reviews
Featuring an Introduction by Michael Shea, this new collection from multiple award-winning author horror Laird Barron features the following stories: The Forest, Occultation, The Lagerstatte, Mysterium Tremendum (original to this collection), Catch Hell, Strappado, and The Broadsword.
Hardcover, 245 pages
Published May 11th 2010 by Night Shade Books
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The Imago Sequence and Other Stories by Laird BarronThe Croning by Laird BarronOccultation and Other Stories by Laird BarronThe Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All by Laird BarronThe Light Is the Darkness by Laird Barron
The Best of Laird Barron
3rd out of 6 books — 10 voters
Tagged by Joseph M. ChironMateguas Island by Linda WatkinsWorld War Z by Max BrooksNOS4A2 by Joe HillAlien Species Intervention Books 1-3 by J.K. Accinni
Best Horror Books of the 21st Century
32nd out of 198 books — 261 voters


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Community Reviews

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 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads)
Laird Barron clearly knows how to unsettle his readers. If there was a universal theme of the various stories in this book, it would be that every single story was unsettling, albeit in different ways.

Mr. Barron evokes memories of reading Caitlín R. Kiernan, HP Lovecraft, Arthur Machen, and even Algernon Blackwood in his tales in this volume. He finds the fearsome in such diverse subjects as the entities from beyond, the power of guilt, the overwhelming and uncomprehensible enormity of the natur...more
Ben Loory
barron is a masterful writer with a distinctively flowing and hallucinatory style and i really loved this collection in the beginning. after a while, though, the hopelessness of the universe became not just overpowering but sort of silly. well, let's see how these poor schmucks get fucked over i started to say at the beginning of each story. which, okay, maybe i should've spaced them apart... but every single one was just "bad to worse." i need a little hope to feel the horror of hope's ruin.

but...more
Steve
Laird Barron is, to my mind, the best writer of horror fiction today. I realize that’s a strong statement, and one subject to what kind of horror fiction one prefers. For myself, I like horror to be dark and well-crafted. Literary even, but not afraid to rip your face off when the rubber hits the road. Barron supplies that, and more. The vehicles of choice, short story, novella, may not make him rich, but is respectful of where the genre works best. I’d much rather read a short, chiseled piece o...more
Bill  Kerwin

Laird Barron is not just a "horror writer," he is a “writer,” someone whose gifts extend beyond the customary limits of the genre. As a consequence, he must be held to a higher standard, and, when he is, I believe he falls short of the mark.

Although Barron’s style is filled with memorable images, the sonority and rhythms of his prose are severely limited--surprising for a poet!--and particularly impoverished in their musical effects. His characters, no matter how painstakingly fashioned, have l...more
Karl
This book contains some of the best writing I have had the pleasure of partaking in for quite some time.

It amazes me as to Mr. Barron's ability to keep me off guard.A story can begin at point A, and with the lush and vibrant story telling take you to point B and before you are cognitive of the event occurring you have been deposited into somewhere really really strange with no possible means of re-orienting yourself. And the stories stick with you long after you have finished them.

The stories ar...more
Matt Garcia
Interesting and thought provoking collection of short stories. This novel was a definite break from the normalcy of horror fiction. The cosmic, chaotic horror and alternate reality present in these stories signify a new addition into the various sub genres of horror. Exquisite details and descriptions are where this collection shines. However, I found the recurring theme and plot of black magic/occult to be a bit redundant after a while and I was left wishing Barron would comprise a story with s...more
Nancy Oakes
Jan 30, 2013 Nancy Oakes rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Nancy by: cosmic horror enthusiasts looking to go beyond Lovecraft and the usual fare
Shelves: horror, weird
If you want the longer version, it's here; otherwise, read on.

Laird Barron is probably the only recent author I've read who can put together a compilation of his stories and keep me totally involved, off balance and maximally creeped out through the entire book without any exceptions. He's also one of the few horror writers in my experience who writes his stories with prose to equal pretty much any literary author, and he does not rely on cheap thrills, hack-em/slash-em gratuitous gore or gross...more
Jesse Bullington
My introduction to Barron came fairly recently with Ellen Datlow's anthology Lovecraft Unbound. His entry "Catch Hell" was a very tidy piece that evoked Machen nearly as much as Lovecraft for me, only with considerably...stronger content. Occultation, which also contains that story, is one of the best horror collections I've read since Barker's Books of Blood.

It's hard to find a review of Barron's work that doesn't use the word "Lovecraftian," but unlike many authors who have that term tacked on...more
Pearce Hansen
The first thing that struck me about Occultation was that, after having read it and the Imago Sequence – Laird’s debut anthology – for the first time, I immediately turned around and read them both all over again. That’s never happened to me before with any other book – not sure what it means, just taking note.

Laird is often spoken of in the same breath with Thomas Ligotti, but they could not be more different. While I am in awe of Ligotti’s work, his universe is one of futility – of clockwork h...more
Heidi Ward
Barron’s second book of short stories absolutely delivers on the promise of The Imago Sequence, and is in fact an even more accomplished and various collection, one in which his writerly scope, symbols, thematic preoccupations and chilling mythos all find room to grow. It's also deeply, deeply disturbing.

In my review of TIS I noted that, in keeping with the noir vibe of the collection, most of Barron’s protagonists were “tough-guy” types. Occultation , in contrast, offers a number of stories whi...more
Simon
Wow, what a bleak, horrific universe that Barron presents in this collection. An array of veiled glimpses into the crawling chaos are collected here with these superbly well written stories.

There seems to be a strong if somewhat nebulous theme running through his work not too dissimilar from Lovecraft's in that there is a harsh, terrifying universe out there lying just beyond the bounds of our everyday perception but that occasionally people stray beyond that veil of ignorance and find out more...more
Laurie
It takes a lot to creep me out. Horror so frequently disappoints me- that hyena laughing two rows behind you at the horror movie showing? That’s me, I’m afraid. That makes me sad, because I love that delicious chill of a well crafted horror story, and it’s just so rare.

Barron managed to raise the hair on the back of my neck several times with these stories. Sure, there were some predictable moments – those times when you want to scream “Don’t go in there!!!!” because you know there is a monster...more
Jamie McMahan
This guy breathes new life into the short story as a literary form...period, regardless of genre. His use of the language is simply masterful and his plots are nothing short of intricate and devious, a worthy latter-day successor to Poe and as good as King at the height of his writing. I highly recommend this book not only to fans of darker, horror and mystery fiction, but to anyone who appreciates a well written story.
S.A.
If I was tied to a chair and repeatedly hit in the mouth with a chain mail glove, I might feel how I did after reading these stories. Barron has a real feel for Despair R Us, served with a side of pain and hopelessness.

If you want to wallow in despair, seriously, this is the book for you. I wondered why I was in a foul mood for the past few days; I blame these stories.

The thing is, they are kick-ass stories. No lie; I didn't want to read them before I turned out the lights for sleepy time. The s...more
Kim
Since I actually DID finish the book, I'm redoing my review. I originally put this book down three stories in. I wasn't impressed with the "horror" or creepiness of what I had read so far. After some soul searching, and re-reading all the reviews that say what a fantastic master of horror the author is, I picked it back up again in the hopes that it would get better.

Several of the stories deal with the same theme, the same- oh, creatures if you will- who give the tales their creepy edge. These...more
Jody
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OCCULTATION by LAIRD BARRON


Horror diehards have reason to celebrate.

Laird Barron does not write “happily ever after.” If you are looking
for pretty stories with happy endings, or even creepy stories with happy
endings, look elsewhere, because there’s nothing pretty nor happy in Laird Barron’s OCCULTATION, his second collection of dark fiction following the success of his first, THE IMAGO SEQUENCE AND OTHER STORIES.

That Barron does not write “happily ever after” is not to say th...more
Daniel Powell
Occultation is a downright frightening collection of short stories. It's not often that I get to write that, and I haven't read a collection that was this vibrantly unsettling since Joe Hill's 20th Century Ghosts.

Barron's prose style is crisp and keenly observational, guiding the reader through landscapes rich with horrific imagery. He introduces us to three-dimensional characters--some courageous and some filled with treachery, but always believable. He dabbles with form a little here, writing...more
Orrin Grey
OK, I doubt if anyone following my reviews is a stranger to Laird Barron. The Imago Sequence and Other Stories established him as one of the most major new forces in weird horror, and Occultation is, in my opinion, the delivery of that book's promise. Not that Imago Sequence wasn't great--it was--this one's just that much better.

There's not a bad story to be found in Occultation, though there are ones I like more than others. I think my favorites are probably the title story, "Catch Hell," "Myst...more
Brian Steele
This review was written for The Imago Sequence AND Occulations, as they were read back to back.

I write dark things and dream darker. I feel like I'd been immersed in the horror culture for a decade now, and that I'd grown immune to anything presented to me. Simply put, the short stories of Laird Barron are the first thing IN YEARS to have sufficiently creeped me out.

Barron is the missing link between Clive Barker and H.P. Lovecraft, his cosmic nightmares still visceral and intimate, his unknown...more
Katrina
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Henryschauman
I'm conflicted about how to rate this book. I want to give parts of it 5 starts, but I would also give other parts 2 stars. The real problem is that these parts are often in the same story. I think Barron creates great settings and believable characters. I was impressed by his ability to evoke an atmosphere or a character's mindset, giving a clear impression of the setting and action in the stories. So that's the 5 star part. As for the 2 star part . . . I often thought the endings were a disapp...more
Dave Roberts
More detailed review coming soon, Some quick notes:

Barron is an outstanding writer. If I could, I'd give this one 4 1/2 stars. However, nothing in the first few stories grabbed me that way the opening stories of The Imago Sequence and Other Stories did. The second half is where the collection really shines, especially in the stories that are previously unpublished. Barron's characters are always well rendered -- speaking of which, there are a couple of characters that pop up in more than one sto...more
Dusty Wallace
I'd give any given story in this collection 5 stars. However, every story treads the same water. It would have been nice to see a little bit more variety. Laird Barron has one of the strongest voices in horror but I'd love to see him work outside of his comfort zone. I've read The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All, The Croning, and now this book and all three recycle the same material. It's excellent material, for sure, but everything grows stale with enough exposure.

That being said, if you ha...more
Jay Caselberg
I actually finished this a couple of days ago, and I guess I've been processing since. Barron can certainly tell a tale and there are recurring themes and images throughout. The tales draw heavily on wilderness settings and mix them up with the urban environment and dreams/nightmares fugue states throughout. I have a couple of favourites within the tales, but saying too much would give the game away. If there is a reservation I have, is that there is a series of word choices throughout that gave...more
Adam Nevill
I've never forgotten my first encounters with certain horror collections, at different times in my life, that resonated with me - Lovecraft, Machen, Blackwood, Barker, T.E.D Klein, Ramsey Campbell, M John Harrison, Ligotti, Robert Aickman, among others. But they were books that transported me and made me want to write. I've come to Laird Barron relatively late, but I'm adding him to my pantheon of greats (and I don't use that word lightly). Just finished his first two single author works - THE...more
James Brown
I haven't read any other reviews of this book, so you tell me ... is the comparison to Lovecraft old at this point? I'll bet it is.

This is a very solid set of short stories, the kind of "collection" that I believe is meant to be taken as a whole. There are lots of thematic and stylistic links between stories as well as enough echoes and references between tales to suggest the makings of a full-blown mythos. So ... the comparison to Lovecraft makes sense, and there's a timeless sense to the stor...more
Ellen Herbert
Found out about this author from a 'best of' list by Ellen Datlow, who is the best anthologist going and was completely won over.
I am a big fan of Lovecraftian type horror and see this author as a new and important voice in this genre. His stories seduce and terrify with a balance that is addicting. Not for the weak of heart, but if you like early Clive Barker, Joe Hill and Ellison, you will be joining me in watching this talent develop.

Paul
Laird's second collection is as breath taking and original as his first. Themes and style are built upon instead of recycled. Scenes in "Mysterium Tremendium" flat out creeped me out and gave me a nightmare or two. I can't remember the last time that's happened to me while reading fiction. One of the most important collections of 2010.
Andy
It took me a long time to finish this collection only because the stories creep me out so much I couldn't read them back to back. If you're into literary horror and haven't checked out Barron, this is some excellent work you must read.
Teresa Frohock
One of the creepiest, most excellent collection of horror short-stories that I've read in years. I have to say that "Strappado" was my favorite. Loved it and will read it again.
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466494
I spent my early years in Alaska, where I raced the Iditarod three times during the early 1990s and worked as fisherman on the Bering Sea. My youth was harsh–our family lived a hardscrabble existence on the Big Bend of the Yentna River. We subsisted by hunting, fishing, and raising huskies for competition in long distance races. I retired from racing and moved to Washington in 1994.

Gordon Van Geld...more
More about Laird Barron...
The Imago Sequence and Other Stories The Croning The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All: Stories The Light is the Darkness Primeval: A Journal of the Uncanny (#1)

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