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4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,433 ratings  ·  106 reviews
This collection of horror stories, many previously unpublished, includes "The Medusa," "Conversations in a Dead Language," and "Mad Night of Atonement." By the author of Grimscribe.
Paperback, 208 pages
Published April 25th 1995 by Running Press (first published 1994)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,433 ratings  ·  106 reviews

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Mar 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
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 ...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
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 ...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"
Douglas Hackle
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 constantly ...more
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, short-stories
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
Jun 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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,
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dark, 2014, horror, gothic
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 ...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: read-in-2011, horror
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 ...more
Not all that creepy
someone loves the word "blackness"
short little nightmares.
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
Ligotti destroys you
Alex Budris
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
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
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
Slap Happy
Oct 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
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.
C. Varn
Nov 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
not at all scary or unsettling unless you have a fear of boredom and pretentious, dull prose
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
DeAnna Knippling
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
"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
Turgwaith Gondren
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The Medusa” – 1/5 I simply didn’t get it.

“Conversations in a Dead Language” – 5/5 Excellent, eerie, haunting, complex story, very well thought of. Things which aren’t said, but only suggested, are really the ones making this the true horror story.
“The Prodigy of Dreams” – 3/5 Ok, but nothing special.

“Mrs. Rinaldi’s Angel” – 3/5 Same.

“The Tsalal” – 4/5 Interesting, maybe too long.

“Mad Night of Atonement” – 4/5 Better than “The Tsalal”, interesting idea and nice philosophical thoughts.

Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
A bit weaker than other Ligotti I’ve read but it’s still incredibly my thing. You can tell there’s lots of attempts on Ligotti’s part to diversify his palette for horror which for the most part works really well, more mythological stories and simple spookshows like The Medusa and Conversations in a Dead Language hit really well despite definitely feeling different. Admittedly, Notebook of the Night felt a bit repetitive at some points, like a recycling bin of ideas Ligotti could not execute into ...more
Steven Middaugh
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Variations of Cosmic Dread

There are various ways to confront the cosmic dread. Some would embrace it. Others would turn stone cold. Very few would come away in one piece. But who's to say survivors would remain sane for long? Few haunted places would tell a tale but not the way you would expect it to be. These are the stuff where dreams, nightmares, illusions created by Ligotti were made on. Be looking for more in near future.
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Truly Ligotti gets compared with Lovecraft and Poe, but I sense him as a writer with a very particular existential style. A Philosophical Horror. His stories border between hypnagogia and knowing how to describe the entrance into the unknown. I enjoyed specially Strange Design of Master Rignolo, the Voice in the Bones, and the Physician... These gave me a very Surreal Mystery vibe as if it could be directed by David Lynch if they were to be constructed into a Film or Series
Joseph Allocca
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Horror for the thinking man

Ligotti is masterful in the way he finds horror in the most trivial and mundane places. The more dull the setting is the more ligotti unchains our mind’s longing for terror. And many of the stories will cause you to inquire further into yourself for the horror within the horror.

Highly recommended.
Michael Gannon
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
for me, this one was just not up to par with Ligotti's other horror collections, which are all top tier. there are some high points, and some valuable unique styling to be found here, but the overall impact of his other nightmarish is just there with this one. still recommend for fans of the genre though.
Esteban LV
Jan 06, 2019 rated it did not like it
Some stories are good, mainly the first ones, but as you advance they become shorter and loose; you end up reading two-page (or less!) stories that are about nothing, because there's no time at all to narrate anything, so the book becomes quite tedious.
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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
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“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” 8 likes
“For many feverish years he was burdened with the sensation, an ancient one to be sure, that the incredible sprawl of human history was no more than a pathetically partial record of an infinitely vast and shadowed chronicle of universal metamorphoses. How much greater, then, was the feeling that his own pathetic history formed a practically invisible fragment of what itself was merely an obscure splinter of the infinite. Somehow he needed to liberate himself from the dungeon cell of his life.” 4 likes
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