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The Grimscribe's Puppets

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  255 ratings  ·  34 reviews
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Thomas Ligotti is beyond doubt one of the Grandmasters of Weird Fiction. In The Grimscribe’s Puppets, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., has commissioned both new and established talents in the world of weird fiction and horror to contribute all new tales that pay hoame to Ligotti and celebrate his eerie and essential nightmares. Poppy Z. Brite once asked, “Are yo
Paperback, First Edition, 304 pages
Published 2013 by Miskatonic River Press
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Jul 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Thomas Ligotti has long been one of my favourite authors. I was first drawn to his work upon the recommendation of David Tibet of Current 93 fame. This must have been at least ten years ago now. My first experience of his actual work was on a twilit winter afternoon, when my boyfriend read aloud the story “Teatro Grottesco” to me. It was in THE YEAR’S BEST FANTASY AND HORROR: TENTH ANNUAL COLLECTION, which I had borrowed from the library (this was in the years before my obsessive book collecting ...more
Justin Steele
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The first book reviewed on The Arkham Digest was A Season in Carcosa, edited by Joseph S. Pulver Sr. An all-star lineup of weird fiction writers had written their own stories of madness for this anthology in tribute to the King in Yellow stories by Robert Chambers. I can't help but look at The Grimscribe's Puppets as a companion piece to that volume. Both published by the wonderful Miskatonic River Press, both edited by Joseph S. Pulver, both featuring a perfect lineup of weird fiction authors, ...more
Paul Roberts
Aug 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“The Secrets of the Universe” by Michael Cisco contains enough brilliant ideas to fuel a novel. Stories by Livia Llewellyn, Cody Goodfellow, Richard Gavin, John Langan and (the late) Joel Lane are worth the modest price of admission. Gemma Files' "Oubliette" is perhaps the most powerful work presented here. Pulver, a fantastic writer himself, has collected a wonderful tribute to Ligotti. I can only wonder though, in a meta-conspiracy-rumour fugue, whether Laird Barron’s “More Dark” was submitted ...more
Jun 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I would say right now Ligotti is my favorite horror author. Unfortunately I've almost read everything he has written. (Fortunately his work is imminently re-readable.) So this seemed like the place to go for some philosophical horror in the Ligotti vein.

I knew this book was going to be good because it won a Shirley Jackson award and I watch the weekly Lovecraft eZine YouTube show where Joe Pulver (the editor) appears regularly, and was expecting an impressive collection from the discussion there
Aug 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Thomas Ligotti's fiction is not an acquired taste. Either you're willing to travel these streets and face the stark miseries there, or you're not. Most readers like a bit of optimism, even in horror fiction. Most writers build suspense on the possibility, however unlikely, that their protagonist will triumph. Ligotti's characters live in a realm devoid of promise, confirming our suspicion that all, ultimately, is for nothing.

For an in-depth study of Thomas Ligotti's work, read S.T. Joshi's The M
Tribute anthology to Ligotti. Varies in quality story to story, and some are less ligottian than others, or tooth on unessential or early Ligotti ideas. Most cerebral and ligottian contribution is Padgett’s “20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism,” which develops subtlely as a slowly dawning horror. Some of the other stories are good, too, but there are a few that I just did not understand.

Thematically, many of the contributions concern solitude, and the horror effects are often enough generated by th
Bryan Alexander
Oct 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gothic
I very much wanted to love this book, so perhaps my reaction suffers from too-high expectations.

I've been a Thomas Ligotti fan since I first read Songs of a Dead Dreamer as an undergraduate. Many of us living in the same house took turns with the hardcover, respectfully discussing it in hushed voices. Since then I've bought every text I could find. I followed the cult for a while, and taught one of his short stories to several approving Gothic Lit classes. So the idea of a tribute collection ap
Sep 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A well-conceived and skillfully executed anthology in tribute to dark weird master Thomas Ligotti. None of it reads exactly like TL, and that is as it should be - each of the 22 authors herein give their own spin on TL's signature tropes and/or themes. This book is crammed with a diverse array of stories conveying different tones and moods, but there is not one story I wasn't glad to read.

I have only read a few of these authors in any depth; as I expected, Richard Gavin, Joel Lane, and Simon St
Jan 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
I've spent about six months reading this book, off and on, though this should not be taken as a slight against the book itself. As far as tribute anthologies—where multiple writers write stories in dedication to another writer—go, Pulver has done a fine job. One of the better ones, in fact. His choice of included stories is good and varied, while his choice of order is actually constructive rather than arbitrary feeling.

Part of the time it took me to read it was overcoming the fear that a tribu
Jan 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
A fantastic anthology which will appeal to any Ligotti fans. I also bought it because I wanted to read Robin Spriggs's contribution. As is always the case with anthologies, there are stories you like, and those you abandon after a few pages if you're not hooked. There were only two or three of the latter, and there are some real corkers in here. Highly recommended. ...more
Mar 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
As with all multiple author anthologies, it can be a bit of a mixed back, but everything was at least good. The ones which stood out where great.

'The Human Moth' by Kaaron Warren was the first piece that really captured my interest. 'The Man Who Escaped This Story' by Cody Goodfellow was I felt, the most Ligotti-esque tale of them all and a really interesting unconventionally told tale by any standards. '20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism' by Jon Padgett was in a sort of similar vein and once agai
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Furnace - Livia Llewellyn: Strong opening story as Llewellyn manages to emulate Ligotti's prose style whilst merging it with a distinctive female voice that implicitly addresses Ligotti's... questionable reduction of women to specifically sexual puppets in a way that his male character-puppets seldom are. Also holy hell there is some inventive gore in this. 4/5

The Lord Came at Twilight - Daniel Mills: Great title and takes the interesting approach of removing Ligotti's ideas from their post-mode
Dec 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read the bulk of this anthology in the air on various flights, sandwiched between the latest Patterson and Cussler. Now, I confess this isn't the ideal environment in which to read a book strongly inspired by Ligotti and his predecessors. Despite this, I was sucked down into the worlds between the covers of The Grimscribe's Puppets. Maybe it was enhancement by contrast, or maybe it was that these writers did indeed tap into the same deep vein that keeps the nightmare factory running.

These are
Benjamin Uminsky
Actually a solid 3.5 stars. There were some really excellent stories in here and some really forgettable ones. As a thorough reader of much of Ligotti's work, I can sympathize with any author attempting to either write some Ligotti pastiche or other strongly derivative work, or simply try to capture the essence of Ligotti's writing... its not easy... so credit to every author in this anthology who gave it a go. ...more
Jake Johnson
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Really excellent collection! Must read for Ligotti fans. Fantastic authors; fantastic editor. Overall, very strong tales. There isn't a story in the collection that is subpar, and I would say a third or maybe more really stand out. That is abnormally good compared to most collections I read. ...more
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Among my favorite stories in this anthology are:

"The Xenambulist" by Robin Spriggs
"Gailestis" by Allyson Bird
"The Secrets of the Universe" by Michael Cisco.

Jan 30, 2021 is currently reading it
Oubliette by Gemma Files


Survived attempts on her own life before new drugs, therapy, advices, and a new home Shumate House with 24hr care and security, apartment 5.
27 years old.
Thordis Hendricks

Writing in a therapy blog post and dream diary, her dreams, her treatments and state of mind.
The darkness and dealing within the whirlwind of her mind a narrative compelling you with transcripts, case notes, emails and reports with a few minutes interloping the days of Thordis Hendricks.
There are
Gaze Santos
Sep 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
On the heels of "A Season in Carcosa," this is yet another great anthology by Miskatonic River Press. This time, the guest of honour is Thomas Ligotti. The stories contained in this book were largely inspired by Thomas Ligotti's horror fiction and nihilist philosophy, and are generally more successful than the stories collected in "Carcosa." Part of the reason for this might be that Thomas Ligotti is a modern writer, so his ideas and aesthetics are easier to adapt into the current setting. The s ...more
Gilda Sue
Mar 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Y’all, this anthology is super good. The stories are collected in tribute to horror/science fiction writer Thomas Ligotti, and editor German Joe Pulver sure knows how to pick ‘em!

If I had to pick favorites—which I don’t, of course, but I will. What else have I got to do?—I’d say they were Robin Spriggs’s “The Xenambulist,” Joel Lane’s “Basement Angels”, and “Into the Darkness, Fearlessly” by John Langan.

I give it eleven knishes, which means you should run right out and get yourselves a copy.

Teo Desden
Nov 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Cisco, Goodfellow and Padgett stories were excellent. Collection is worth reading for these three alone.
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful cover and fantastic dark tales. This is one anthology I look forwards to revisiting in a few years.
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anthologies, horror
****Furnace by Livia Llewellyn: Good surreal horror; I especially liked the overarching narrative of the whole thing coming down to (view spoiler).

****The Lord Came at Twilight by Daniel Mills: Ooh, nice portrayal of a religious apocalypse. I especially liked how the story was centered around the decline in civilization and basic decency.

***The Secrets of the Universe by Michael Cisco: Good premise, but the ending was a bit too confusin
May 20, 2017 rated it liked it
I didn't enjoy Ligotti's fiction as much as the hype led me to expect--he has some cool ideas but the bitter characters, cynical tone, and especially the dreamy abstraction put me off. And his aesthetic fixations (puppets, mannequins, corporate anomie, economic decay) mostly do nothing for me. I picked this up because I enjoy a lot of the authors included here and wondered how much they might pull out the good bits and deliver on their potential.

Mostly that was not the case. There are a lot of s
Des Lewis
Jan 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
“Can you tie a noose?”
A brilliant relatively short short bringing up short by an eventual jerk called death, poignantly telling of a Dad and daughter leaving home and her Mom’s grave for a colder clime in the next state along, I guess, this being subcidal Corporateville, Corpus County or wherever… Not much company at the Company.
“Similar buildings lined both sides of of the road, adorned with signs revealing them to be ROPE STORAGE and PILL STORAGE.”

The detailed review of this book (blended in
Nov 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The stories in this anthology capture the essence of Ligotti's writing without being derivative. Here are the ones that I enjoyed most:

"Eyes Exchange Bank" by Scott Nicolay - started out strong, kind of lost its way toward the end.

"Where We Will All Be", by Paul Tremblay - shows that one can write like a Ligottian story without forgoing plot and structure.

"Into the Darkness, Fearlessly", by John Langan

"Oubliette", by Gemma Files
Sep 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Quite good! I was particularly fond of Furnace, Basement Angels, THE XENAMBULIST, The Blue Star, and The Man Who Escaped This Story.
Dec 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Langan, Griffin, Files, and Strantzas have the best respective stories, in my opinion, but Nicolas, Padgett, Thomas, Goodfellow, Kelly, and Cisco are outstanding, too. But, unfortunately, Cushing's story is an underdeveloped piece of flash-fiction; Tremblay's struggles to make an impact, both dramatically and horrifically; and Angerhuber's is poetically weak compared to the other stories of similar length. All the other stories I enjoyed and/or was impressed by.

I read the second half of the boo
Rick Powell
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
There is only one way to describe this book. There is a story in this book that is called "Into the Darkness, Fearlessly" written by John Langan. In this story, the main character comes across a manuscript with this title...

"A Grammar of Dread, A Catechism of Terror"

That is the best way to describe "The Grimscribe's Puppets". This book pays homage to the great Thomas Ligotti in the best way possible. The carefully handpicked authors in here write stories that would make Mr. Ligotti proud. The on
Lucas Ilievskie
Oct 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror

A bleak and unsettling homage to Ligottian horror and the genre’s namesake progenitor.

I did genuinely enjoy a number of the stories – Furnace, By Invisible Hands, and The Xenambulist in particular were excellent pieces that evoked the classic nihilism and existential dread I’ve come to adore in Ligotti’s prose – but the rest of the stories, quality-wise, ranged from ‘pretty good’ (The Lord Came at Twilight, Basement Angels) to ‘confusing and mediocre’ (Gailestis, The Man Who Escaped This Stor
Feb 12, 2014 rated it liked it
I'm not sure why so many authors in this collection make the mistake of channeling Thomas Ligotti's style as though it's supposed to be incomprehensible. Having said that, the book picks up towards the end, only to nose dive with the final story. In my view, there are too many stories present here that seem to celebrate structure over substance and often they devolve into navel gazing stylistic detours rather than setting up compelling and frightening scenarios. Ligotti fans should skip this boo ...more
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