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


4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,590 ratings  ·  133 reviews
Noctuary is the third volume of Thomas Ligotti's horror stories to appear in a revised, definitive edition from Subterranean Press. The first two collections in this series, Songs of a Dead Dreamer (2010; 1986; expanded edition, 1989) and Grimscribe: His Lives and Works (2011; originally published 1991), are now collector's items. Like its predecessors, Noctuary received n ...more
Kindle Edition, 208 pages
Published June 25th 2012 by Subterranean Press (first published 1994)
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 Noctuary, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
William Taylor Just keep an eye out on eBay. The cheapest I've seen it was around £40, and that was with international postage. It's a somewhat rare book I'm afraid,…moreJust keep an eye out on eBay. The cheapest I've seen it was around £40, and that was with international postage. It's a somewhat rare book I'm afraid, so there's no cheap way of obtaining it.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,590 ratings  ·  133 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Noctuary
Dimitrije Srebric
Dec 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
This is more a 3.5 star rating, but I went for 4 since the author is one of my favorite horror writers.

As such, I find Thomas Ligotti very hard to read, and that is mostly a good thing, since his descriptions of dark vistas, nightly shadows and depictions, that felt like they came straight from a fever dream, are unique.

However, there were moments when my mind was baffled by what I read that certain paragraphs I had to go through THREE TIMES!

Out of the eight stories, the one that suited me the m
Mar 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While Noctuary features some strikingly powerful stories, it's not an entirely successful collection and would seem to be a small let down from Ligotti's previous collection, Grimscribe. This may be because Noctuary, like Ligotti's debut Songs of a Dead Dreamer, is a transitional work. With Songs, it's clear that Ligotti was working to combine his literary influences with his own original voice and ideas to create something strikingly original yet very much within the tradition of weird fiction. ...more
Sep 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved Studies in Shadow. Loved 2/3 of Discourse on Blackness: Tsalal, Mad Night of Atonement, The Strange Design of Master Rignolo. Liked the other one just okay, certainly still well above the average "weird" story. I didn't care at all for Notebook of the Night, not that the pieces were bad, sort of prose poems, but I'm just not a big flash fiction fan and that's what it kind of seemed like to me. I found I just couldn't concentrate on these. I read them all through twice, some a third time be ...more
Feb 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Throughout my childhood, the dreams that I nightly experienced would become brutally vivid, causing me to awake screaming." Ligotti

" dreams and visions nurtured in an atmosphere of sublime dread, growing overnight like some gaudy fungus in a forgotten cellar…" Ligotti

Those things that dwell in your dreams sometimes want to come out and play, or consume, or control. This book is all about those "creatures of the ID" which once released can not easily be put back where they came from. - Not only
Paula Cappa
Mar 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent! Really enjoyed these stories, especially the short ones that really can zap you. The art on the hardcover edition is quite scary and I had to turn the book face down on my night table because I couldn't stand the fierce eyes staring at me. "Voice in the Bones" and "Autumnal" are quite unsettling pieces, but my favorite is "Mrs. Rinaldi's Angel." I like it so much I featured it as a free read on my short story blog Poe would certainly admire "T ...more
Paul Roberts
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Standouts on a first reading:
"The Prodigy of Dreams"
"The Tsalal"
"The Master's Eyes Shining With Secrets"
Oct 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Been really saving this one, as it remained one of my last unread Ligotti releases. I think the longer stories in it are generally just alright (With a few exceptions), but the NOTEBOOK OF THE NIGHT section is one of the best things Ligotti ever wrote.
Douglas Hackle
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I liked Teatro Grottesco better than this collection, I found much to enjoy in Noctuary, which makes sense considering the former was published about a dozen years after the latter. Highlights for me include “The Medusa,” wherein the image of Medusa comes to represent self-aware, existential horror; “Mrs. Rinaldi’s Angel,” in which dreams themselves are metaphysical parasites responsible for our mortality; “The Tsalal,” in which reality is revealed to be nothing more than a constantl ...more
Jun 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I could only tell someone one Ligotti quote, this might be it:
"... 'There is no nature to things you wrote in the book. 'There are no faces except masks held tight against the pitching chaos behind them.' You wrote that there is not true growth or evolution in the life of this world but only transformations of appearance, an incessant melting and molding of surfaces without underlying essence. Above all you pronounced that there is no salvation of any being because no beings exist as such, no
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gothic, 2014, horror, dark
In the foreword to this book, Ligotti writes a bit about weird fiction. He talks about how that type of fiction is about the unknown, and even describes the quintessential weird fiction story, which is one where a man reaches for his glasses in the dark, only to have someone place them into his hand. That’s the whole story, beginning, middle, and end, and while it’s certainly spooky (mostly due to the uncertainty on who — or what — placed the glasses into his hands), it doesn’t strike me as part ...more
Nate D
Aug 26, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: trapped in the deep library vaults overnight and bored
Recommended to Nate D by: uncanny valley-girls
Shelves: horror, read-in-2011
Ligotti is probably technically a better writer than Lovecraft, but in older collections like this, less abstract and philosophical than later, his advantages show less and he seems more like just a more modern and polished version of Lovecraftian legends on the underlying black chaos of the insensible universe. Later on, he would drift towards a different sort of voice, conversational but overwrought and lost in self-reflection, like a pulp Bernhard, but that was all mostly to come at this poin ...more
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, horror
I've been looking forward to reading something again by Ligotti for quite a while now. Having ploughed through (and thoroughly enjoyed) Teatro Grottesco and My Work Is Not Yet Done, the two most readily available collections of his fiction available. So I took advantage of one of his older collections briefly flashing in and out of print with Subterranean Press's run of limited edition hardbacks.

It features an introduction by the author himself as he ruminates on the essential essence of the wei
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a short story collection but at the same time it isn’t. The stories here form a whole, an ethereal tome of nihilistic nightmares and hypnotic prose. The horror isn’t visceral, the horror you feel is from the existential dread these bleak words deliver into the dark corners of your mind. The stories aren’t directly linked but are written in such a way that they bleed into one another, the end of one and start of another hazy and indistinct like fragments of a dream. This book needs to be ...more
Not all that creepy
someone loves the word "blackness"
short little nightmares.
Oct 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
I would say that this collection is somewhat "less prominent" and "doesn't get under the skin that much", but that's just how I feel, mostly because of the last part of the book...

Let's talk about that first.

The last part, Notebook of the Night, is exactly what it suggests it is- vignettes with quieter and subtler horrors, and soaked with philosophical overtones. Yes they didn't dig too deep an infection in my mind, at least after the first read anyway, and Ligotti is a writer whose works can be
Jul 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to R. by: True Detective
Shelves: 2014
Ligotti's name gets flashed a lot in the True Detective writeups, and this collection goes a long way towards explaining why. Very strong atmospherics, heavy purple dying-starlight dread, a lot of sound and a lot of fury signifying...not nothing but Nothing.

Best stories are the obvious Lovecraft nods, "The Tsalal" (The Case of Charles Dexter Ward) and "Mad Night of Atonement: A Future Tale" ("Nyarlathotep").

Part three of this collection, Notebook of the Night succeeds as a must-read-all-beginn
Carlos Justiniano
Ligotti destroys you
Alex Budris
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, short-stories
What if Lovecraft had the writing skills of Hemmingway, and the probing, nihilistic genius of Nietzsche? That's Ligotti for you, and he's very, very good. Talk about existential horror! And the horror that Ligotti conjures up is more bleakly evocative than outright scary. No blood and guts in these stories. But prepare to occasionally start up in your chair, put the book aside, and think "Wow. I am terribly, creepily, beautifully depressed." The author's sparse, hypnotic prose conveys a sense of ...more
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
not at all scary or unsettling unless you have a fear of boredom and pretentious, dull prose
Feb 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First things first: have fun finding a copy of this. I personally found a digital copy of this on a library-like website where I had to wait for someone else to return it and then I had a timer to read it, like digital files couldn't be shared or downloaded. Alternatively, you can sell your first born and buy a copy, priced like they were eggs of dodo.

Noctuary, Ligotti’s third collection, is perhaps the least visceral of the author’s work, far closer to Teatro Grottesco’s abstractions than Songs
Apr 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always write the same thing about short stories, basically that they are just, you know, short, and yet I keep reading them. For once I am justified because Ligotti always writes the same thing too. Ultimately, all his stories (and especially those in the second part of this book) are encounters with the same villain and although that villain can never be directly described, it's safe to assume that it is existence itself. It's some indeterminate blackness that simultaneously encompasses every ...more
James Oxyer
Oct 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The final section of this, entitled "Notebook of the Night," is probably the best reason to dig in, especially if you're down to mainline multiple 3-4 page bursts of Ligottian dread (and it's really impressive how some of these 3-pagers are just as (if not more) effective than his 15-25 pagers.) The preceding short fiction is pretty good too. Short fiction ranked:

1. The Tsalal
2. The Prodigy of Dreams
3. Conversations in a Dead Language
4. The Medusa
5. Mad Night of Atonement
6. The Strange Design o
Ian Casey
Nov 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even the negative reviews of Ligotti often have praise for his style. The perpetual argument surrounding him seems to be one of substance – that is, does he have any or is he pretentiously purveying empty pseudo-profundity? That’s not a question that can be quickly or easily answered (much less indisputably) but I will say this. When style is as distinct and exquisitely realised as Ligotti’s (obvious influences notwithstanding), it’s worthy of admiration in its own right.

I will also say that the
Russell Coy
Jul 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After hearing so much about Ligotti, I had high expectations for this collection. Too high, perhaps. Reading Noctuary wasn't the revelatory experience I associate with my memories of The Stranger, Naked Lunch, or The Black Dahlia. It is, however, a damn good read.

Lovecraft's influence bleeds through every space in between Ligotti's words here. The themes of alienation and the merging of dream and reality are both prominent. Ligotti is a better technician than Lovecraft, though, more elegant and
C. Varn
Nov 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thomas Ligotti's stories are more compressed here than in a few of his other collections: the longest story here being 40 pages, but often many of the stories are just a few. This compression gives Ligotti's comsicism less space to articulate itself, so these stories have almost a darkly poetic quality. Ligotti's subtly can even dominate in very brief prose, but this may be more accessible than many of Ligotti's other works because of the compression of some of the stories. ...more
Slap Happy
Kinda in the middle of the road on this one. While the writing style and voice was appealing, the horror elements and concepts (foundational stuff) were lacking, underdeveloped or just uninteresting altogether. I read about half of the stories here and not one of them has stuck with me, even though (to the writer's credit) they went down nice-and-easy. Will check out more by Ligotti since, from a little research, popular opinion says this is one of his weakest collections. ...more
May 14, 2011 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-acquire
Most of the stories in this appeared in The Nightmare Factory, but I want to read the flash fiction that didn't appear in it. My former roommate owned the book and I read a little, but didn't finish. ...more
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ligotti’s 1994 collection, NOCTUARY, has been reissued by Subterranean Press (2012.) This incarnation contains eight brooding short stories, an enlightening introduction by the author and twenty amazing flash fictions, tighter and darker than anything you might have recently read.

The problem with the horror genre in general is the mindset of the majority of its authors. The most financially successful tend to play at it—beginning with some ridiculous premise, as a sort of what if and then dragg
DeAnna Knippling
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"It seemed to him that the old mysteries had been made for another universe, and not the one he came to know. Yet there was no doubt that they had once deeply impressed him." --The Order of Illusion.

I liked the stories here, but they felt flat (even as I argued to myself that they were meant to feel flat) and I wasn't sure why, until I very nearly reached the end of the collection and read the story named previously.

"Ahhhh," said I. "Lovecraft and his predecessors the Gothics are slowly sliding
Des Lewis
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This gem of a story has a perfectly Gothic-Baroque prose texture (a texture original to this author) telling of a boy taken by his mother to be treated by what I shall call a Dream Healer, one called Mrs Rinaldi… Make of that what you will, after you have finished reading this work. Is she a charlatan or well-meaning botcher or another genuinely perverse Ligottian Doctor in her own right?
This text represents a dream apotheosis of depletion, antiseptic attenuation, deprivation, maggoty parasitism
« previous 1 3 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Club de Lectura d...: Noctuario: Zona Spoilers 3 13 Aug 25, 2020 09:21AM  
Club de Lectura d...: Noctuario: Vuestras minirreseñas 4 16 Jul 10, 2020 04:31PM  
Club de Lectura d...: Noctuario: Sin Spoilers 4 15 Jun 01, 2020 03:01PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • In the Dust of This Planet (Horror of Philosophy, #1)
  • Dark Gods
  • The Tenant
  • Cosmic Pessimism
  • Pauk i drugi užasi
  • The Great God Pan
  • The Willows
  • Cold Hand in Mine: Strange Stories
  • The Secret of Ventriloquism
  • Demons By Daylight
  • The House on the Borderland
  • Gateways to Abomination: Collected Short Fiction
  • She Said Destroy
  • Cabal
  • The Whisperer in Darkness: Collected Stories Volume 1
  • Il fantasma del lettore passato
  • Glas u noći
  • The Weird and the Eerie
See similar books…
Thomas Ligotti is a contemporary American horror author and reclusive literary cult figure. His writings, while unique in style, have been noted as major continuations of several literary genres—most prominently Lovecraftian horror—and have overall been described as works of "philosophical horror", often written as philosophical novels with a "darker" undertone which is similar to gothic fiction. ...more

Related Articles

Diverse voices and sparkling debuts dominate today's contemporary short story collections. For this roundup, we took a look at the...
97 likes · 10 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“personal well-being serves solely to excavate within your soul a chasm which waits to be filled by a landslide of dread, an empty mold whose peculiar dimensions will one day manufacture the shape of your unique terror” 9 likes
“There is no nature to things,’ you wrote in the book. ‘There are no faces except masks held tight against the pitching chaos behind them.” 6 likes
More quotes…