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Gifts For the One Who Comes After

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  208 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Helen Marshall’s second fiction collection offers a series of twisted surrealities that explore the legacies we pass on to our children. A son seeks to reconnect with his father through a telescope that sees into the past. A young girl discovers what lies on the other side of her mother’s bellybutton. Death’s wife prepares herself for a very special funeral.
Paperback, 270 pages
Published September 15th 2014 by ChiZine Publications
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Introduction by Ann Vandermeer

Illustrations by Chris Roberts

Cover Artwork by Erik Mohr
Nicholas Kaufmann
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Marshall's second collection both fulfills and exceeds the promise of her first. The horrors are personal in these seventeen effective tales, and the fantastic elements are dark and disturbing. I've previously likened Marshall's work to Kelly Link's, and that kind of anything-goes, character-driven imagination is certainly still on display in these stories, but the analogy feels reductive to me now. Marshall is swiftly carving a style of fiction all her own -- deeply inspired by the likes of Lin ...more
Nov 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars, really. This is a tough review to write. I'm struggling with rating the author on her writing ability (5, clearly) vs the topic (maybe 5 for some people but you'd have to be DEEPLY into out-there fantasy, it's a 2.5 for me) and balancing in the fact that these stories are all over the place. Some are terrific, some (as other reviewers have said) are almost impossible to get through (where was her editor?) and most are entertaining, well written but freaky weird. Having said that, I lo ...more
Oct 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Disturbing. Creepy. Haunting.
The stories in this collection purport to explore the human condition by juxtaposing supernatural elements with ordinary interactions. Marshall succeeds in weaving compelling tales that frequently leave the reader breathless, wondering what just happened and what it means on a larger scale.
Reading this was not always enjoyable, but it was fascinating, particularly the tale which relates to the cover image, a dead kitten with fish scales.
If you like to be weirded out
Sep 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Weird fiction stories about families, more in the modern dark surreal fantasy vein than horror, for the most part; very much in the Kelly Link school of quirkiness, to the point that one story (“Secondhand Magic”) almost felt like pastiche. Like Link (and most of the authors in YBWF2), the intrusion of weirdness is used here to trace out fractured interpersonal relationships rather than an anti-anthropocentric worldview/warning to the curious. These stories are u
Seregil of Rhiminee
Nov 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Originally published at Risingshadow.

I'm glad I had a chance to read and review Helen Marshall's Gifts for the One Who Comes After, because it's an excellent short story collection. I'm tempted to use the words "exceptionally good" when talking about it, because it was something different and contained well written stories.

There are many readers and critics who have already praised Helen Marshall's stories. I also praise them, because it's almost impossible not to be impressed and moved by her o
Sep 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The disturbing cover of Marshall's second collection and its feature on made me eagerly seek this out and I quickly found that it was exactly the type of short fiction that I most enjoy, well written with a distinct shade of darkness. To call her stories dark and unsettling is accurate, but the supernatural and horrific elements of these stories provide an enshrouding tone for the basic character exploration beneath. By delving into a reality of human emotions rather than a focus on the ...more
Nov 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
This collection is different from many modern weird fiction collections I've tackled lately. These stories have the emotional punch of weird fiction by Nathan Ballingrud for example, but without being as brutal. There's variety here -- some stories feel like folktales, some are atmospheric and a few go further into more experimental bizzaro territory. Only a few stories here are what I would call horrific, and at the end of the book I wished there were more because in general I thought the horro ...more
Ryan Willox
Jun 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
I read a lot of short stories and collections, or try to, and have never understood the apparent reluctance of publishers to put their faith in them nor readers to buy them. It's always seemed like myth to me that short-story collections don't sell, or appeal to readers. In short, I'm a fan; I love the medium. That said they tend to fall into two categories for me; 'short stories', or stories that are short. Stories that are short happen to be brief, to the point, relevant fragments of a greater ...more
DeAnna Knippling
Sep 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Short, dark tales across the spectrum of weirdness.

I wanted to like these, and they should have been in my wheelhouse. A lot of dark semi-mythical tales of broken relationships and societies. But I found myself skimming. The first story, The Hanging Game, was fantastic. But I found myself slowly sliding out of the other stories. The pattern was: an unreliable, immoral narrator waves around a certain amount of weiredness, something terrible is suggested to be about to happen, it happens to someon
Bill Hsu
Dec 13, 2014 rated it liked it
I thought this was a bit uneven compared with Marshall's earlier collection Hair Side, Flesh Side. There are gems here, like the intense rural magic realism of "The Hanging Game", the sly "Secondhand Magic" (with maybe a reference to Kelly Link's Magic for Beginners? the tone is quite Link-esque), and the marvelously awkward and disquieting "In the Year of Omens". But quite a few of the pieces (especially the previously unpublished ones, I note) don't quite work for me. There's no shortage of go ...more
Jan 14, 2015 rated it liked it
I'm totally ambivalent about this book. It's definitely very good quality writing, but I would call most of the stories horror rather than fantasy so it really wasn't what I expected or wanted. There are some horror stories an emotional newly pregnant lady really shouldn't read. :-/ So, on the one hand, I could definitely recommend it if you want well written, deeply disturbing nightmare fuel, but I didn't actually finish the book - my ebook loan from the library expired and I just kind of shrug ...more
Oct 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Review copy received through NetGalley.
There are a number of recurring themes in Helen Marshall's new book of fantastically creepy short stories: blood debts, fraught intergenerational relationships, oldest children's anxieties about becoming siblings. The stories exploring these themes are profoundly odd, deeply unsettling, beautifully evocative, and superbly New Weird.
Nancy Baker
Nov 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read a number of these stories in early drafts. They were incredible and accomplished then and they're ever better here. Helen's writing is beautiful, unsettling, and evocative and the darkness in her stories comes not so much from their strangeness as their familiarity: we recognize the emotional ties of love, envy, fear and longing that drive the characters to their fates. Wonderful.
Dec 01, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I enjoy short stories and have read a lot of them, but never any like the 17 stories in this collection by Helen Marshall. The nicest thing I can say about them is that they were imaginative and creative. Unfortunately, I didn’t really like any of them. They all seemed to be fables from foreign lands or something. I don’t know if they were supposed to be scary or just strange. They were all strange to me and not strange in a good way. I just couldn’t relate to any of them or the characters in th ...more
Derek Newman-Stille
Dec 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Helen Marshall's "Gifts for the One Who Comes After" is her love letter to storytelling. Marshall examines the way that we are shaped by the tales we tell ourselves and the stories that are told about us. She reminds the reader that we are made up as much of stories as we are of matter, and that they shape the way we think about ourselves and those who are around us.

Marshall's exploration of stories is not a fairytale lens of joy, but rather an exploration of the potential for tales themselves t
Natalie Carey
I received this ebook from Netgalley in exchange for review.

I enjoyed most of the stories included in this collection, but not all. I liked a lot of the ideas and themes running throughout, but I often felt myself struggling to keep reading and to stay engaged. I think I am just realizing, however, that short story collections just might not be for me. While Marshall does do a good job of composing captivating narratives in these short stories, crafting characters and plots that keep the read
Bruce Gargoyle
I received a digital copy of this title from the publishers via Netgalley.

Ten Second Synopsis:
A collection of short stories featuring the harmlessly odd, the charmingly quirky and the gut-wrenchingly bizarre.

Wow, what a strange little collection of stories. Admittedly, most of them were slightly too weird for my taste, preferring as I do the charmingly quirky to the gut-wrenchingly bizarre. This is certainly a collection that will take the mind to strange new places (welcome or not!).

The openin
Rowan MacBean
Sep 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories, arcs
I received GIFTS FOR THE ONE WHO COMES AFTER as an ARC through


I really enjoyed this collection. It drew my attention on NetGalley with its strange cover art, and I requested it when I noticed it was a collection--short stories might be my favorite format. I was nervous about its inclusion in the category "New Weird," because sometimes I just don't get it, but I needn't have worried.

GIFTS is a collection of eighteen stories of varying degrees of weirdness, only one or two
Molly Ison
Aug 26, 2014 rated it liked it
A strong start but the stories got increasingly less interesting. I don't require a twist or a really gut wrenching ending, but felt that many of the later stories build a good atmosphere -a little weird, a little unsettling - but then kind of taper off, get too vague. Unsettling is a good descriptor, but eating too much steak is also an unsettling experience without a particularly memorable ending.
Josef Hernandez
Nov 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Another very good short story collection from ChiZine

For a full review, please go to and follow me on Twitter @josenher
Timothy Jarvis
Dec 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Marshall’s powerfully disconcerting prose can switch from sentimental whimsy to disturbing grotesque in a single sentence. She baits her snares with believable, relatable characters and powerful affect, and the reader blunders into a tightening loop of the bizarre and dread.
Johann Thorsson
Oct 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great collection of fantasy / horror short stories. One of the stories, Secondhand Magic, is my favorite short story of the year. Highly recommended for anyone who likes short fiction.
I can't get Ship House out of my head.

This collection is the best kind of creepy, stuns then lingers.
K.H. Vaughan
Mar 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Some really remarkable work by a wonderful writer. Strong voice, vivid stories. Includes some of the best short weird fiction I've read in recent memory. Highly recommended.
Ryan Toxopeus
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Marshall has a way with words that makes the macabre and creepy beautiful. While it was a little harder to get into a couple of the later short stories in the collection that were 2nd person, and there was a story that I'm certain had a deeper meaning (I'm terrible at finding those), each and every story was written with graceful prose. Once I started reading, it pulled me along, demanding that I continue from story to story to see what happened next.

There were a couple stories that were diffic
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars.
I'm currently on the end of a concussion and the start of a cold, so short stories are about all I can read. Standouts for me were The Hanging Games, Secondhand Magic, In the Year of Omens, Death and the Girl from Pi Delta Zeta and Ship House. Creepy fantasies, all bound by the themes of families and what we do for them.

Even so, there was a few in here that I just couldn't enjoy at all- the danger of reading so many stories by one author, I suppose.
Tobias Jarl
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was such a joy to read. Marshall manages to change voice in the stories, which gives the collection a more varied reading experience than some short stories collections. The stories pulls you in by their enigmatic plots (even though some are very straightforward) and leaves you with a sensation of unease or wonder. I’m looking forward to reading more from Helen Marshall.
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm typically a novel reader, but this summer I've pushed myself to dive into more short stories. This is a great collection of unnerving and provocative stories that combine soft and flowing miasma with edges both sharp and rough.
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great follow-up to Hair Side, Flesh Side...but I think I like the first a smidge better? These stories were also amazingly written and engrossing—each one a strange, disturbing universe to suck you in.
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Helen Marshall ( is an award-winning author, editor, and bibliophile.

Her poetry and short fiction have been published in The Chiaroscuro, Paper Crow, Abyss & Apex, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet and In 2011, she released a collection of poems entitled Skeleton Leaves from Kelp Queen Press and her collection of short stories Hair Side, Flesh Side was released from Chi

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