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Occultation and Other Stories

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  1,001 ratings  ·  113 reviews
Laird Barron has emerged as one of the strongest voices in modern horror and dark fantasy fiction, building on the eldritch tradition pioneered by writers such as H. P. Lovecraft, Peter Straub, and Thomas Ligotti. His stories have garnered critical acclaim and been reprinted in numerous year's best anthologies and nominated for multiple awards, including the Crawford, Inte ...more
Hardcover, 245 pages
Published July 1st 2010 by Night Shade Books (first published May 11th 2010)
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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
NOS4A2 by Joe HillWorld War Z by Max BrooksTagged by Joseph M. ChironHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. DanielewskiMateguas Island by Linda  Watkins
Best Horror Books of the 21st Century
52nd out of 235 books — 389 voters

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Community Reviews

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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
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja)
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
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
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.

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
11811 (Eleven)
No one writes like this guy does.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
I would put this collection above "The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All" but below "The Imago Sequence." All three are excellent collections of course, this is just my personal preference.
I'm hesitant to give a lot of books 5 stars, and in this case certainly there's a few stories that are rather so-so. But it's the really GOOD ones here that make this collection shine. So many times when I was reading these I could tell I was reading a masterpiece, not just a great horror story, but something
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.
Oct 20, 2014 Clint rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
Laird Barron doing it again. I don't know how to sing this dude's praises enough. He's brainy, he's dark, he's insanely creative but working largely within his own mythology, and not one single story in this collection was boring. A few times I couldn't tell what was happening, and there was still some of that hallucinatory stuff I don't like a lot, like a guy is out wandering alone in the desert and hears a woman's voice and a skin and bone hand falls on his shoulder... then he's walking around ...more
Apr 23, 2015 Kristy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2015, own
Wow!!! A few of these stories are slithery in my mind. Creepy, excellent stuff. Just the right note of wrong.

How is it that Laird Barron always makes me feel like I'm being watched?
Larry Vossler
Oct 13, 2014 Larry Vossler rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Larry by:
If someone wanted an example of Weird fiction, without any thought I would hand them Barron’s Occultation and Other Stories. Within this collection contains some of the best modern Weird fiction stories I’ve ever read.

We start off with The Forest. Richard Partridge, a famous cinematographer and someone interested in “untangling the enigmas of evolutionary origins and ultimate destination.” Partridge will get a chance to see that and what he sees will drastically alter him. As cliche as that soun
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
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
Jump to Comments


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 tha
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
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
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
James Parker
Creepy, thrilling and fantastic!

I read this collection over a number of months reading a story every now and then. And each time I returned to it, I was blown away by the quality of story telling throughout the collection.

This has been my first Laird Barron collection I have read, and it definitely won't be the last. Laird has the skill of brilliant story telling, and I enjoyed every single story in this collection.

If you have not checked Laird out yet, I heavily recommend you do!

Overall, 5*
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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 about Laird Barron...
The Imago Sequence and Other Stories The Croning The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All: Stories The Light is the Darkness Year's Best Weird Fiction, Volume One

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