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The Monstrous

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  230 ratings  ·  62 reviews
From the best horror editor in the business comes the quintessential horror anthology: The Monstrous. Take a terrifying journey with literary masters of suspense, visiting a place where the other is somehow one of us. These electrifying tales redefine monsters from mere things that go bump-in-the-night to inexplicable, deadly reflections of our day-to-day lives. Whether it's a seemingly-de ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published October 27th 2015 by Tachyon Publications (first published October 6th 2015)
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Average rating 3.67  · 
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 ·  230 ratings  ·  62 reviews

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There are some powerhouse authors contained within this anthology themed around,(mostly non-human), monsters: Jeffrey Ford, Peter Straub and John Langan to name just a few. Surprising me, though, was the fact that it was the lesser known authors, (at least, lesser known to me), that really scored with me this time around. A few examples being:

Livia Llewellyn's "The Last, Clean, Bright Summer". I don't even know what to say about this story. A truly original and disgusting, (but in a
Althea Ann
Jul 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
***** “A Natural History of Autumn” by Jeffrey Ford
A very strong opener to the anthology.
As the scene is set, a Japanese couple are on their way to a retreat at a remote onsen. (bathing spa). This being a horror book, we might expect that not all that is to transpire will be romance and relaxation - and we would be right. However, the twists, turns, and gradual revelations about who this man and woman are, and who they might be to each other, are unexpected and sharp.

Jon Recluse
Jul 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, anthologies
This is not your typical monster menagerie. Ellen Datlow has gathered tales of the unexpected, unique takes of the unusual creatures that loiter within the imaginations of some of the finest purveyors of dark fiction working today.
From the terrors that lurk in the shadows of the Far East, to the long awaited return of the "last monster" to one of the most legendary towns in the canon of quiet horror, there is something here for every horror aficionado......from creatures unimaginable to th
Jul 13, 2015 rated it liked it
3.5, will round up on Amazon.

Another spectacular collection edited by Ellen Datlow! This one featured quite a few varieties of monstrosities, from the ever-popular Lovecraftian creations, to varied themes on popular monsters, voodoo, and of course, the HUMAN kind.

As in any collection of this size, there are always some stories that just don't appeal to readers as well as others do. That is to say, what I viewed as my personal favorites, others might not. I do believe that
Seregil of Rhiminee
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Originally published at Risingshadow.

I'm glad I had an opportunity to read and review The Monstrous, because it's an excellent horror anthology. It will be of interest to readers who enjoy reading dark fantasy and horror stories. The stories range fascinatingly from dark fantasy flavoured horror fiction to explicit horror fiction, and from psychologically challenging horror fiction to disquieting and deeply disturbing horror fiction.

One of the best things about The Monstrous is that it c
Richard  Thomas
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Some really compelling stories, a wide range of monstrous. My favorites were "Grindstone," by Stephen Graham Jones, "The Last Clean Bright Summer" by Livia Llewellyn, and "The Totals" by Adam-Troy Castro.
Nancy Oakes
Jul 08, 2015 added it
Shelves: horror, arc
Thoughts on this collection coming soon, but in the meantime, just as an FYI, there are quite a few good stories in this collection.
Charles Dee Mitchell
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
Had this book been titled Ellen Datlow’s Big Book of Monsters, there is little chance I would have picked it up. Not that I don’t love monsters. I am, in fact, a monster kid.

When I was five years old, previews for I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, The Blob, Attack of the Killer Shrews and their ilk flowed through the boxy, black-and-white television sets in dens and family rooms across the United States. Each of these creations looked potentially more marvelous that the one promoted the week befo
Jan 04, 2016 rated it did not like it

I was so disappointed with this volume.

It`s named The Monstrous but a lot of the stories are trying a lot not to be your simple bad ass fucking hell of a monster next door that scare the hell out of the people …and because of that I wasn`t really entertained.

Where are the monsters of Clive Barker that literally are blowing your brains away, or those of Joe R. Lansdale, maybe even King`s or other great horror writers…No, no…

I think that Ellen Datlow wo
Jul 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
For anyone familiar with editor Datlow the short review for her recent horror anthology The Monstrous would be that it is everything you’ve come to expect from her superb taste and expert experience. If you’ve liked previous anthologies from her, you’ll love this. If you’re a decided non-fan, I wouldn’t expect this anthology to change your mind, tastes in horror just don’t match.

For anyone wanting to give modern horror a try who hasn’t read a Datlow anthology, this is a fine place to star
Vince Darcangelo

Funny how some words have lost their meaning over time. Take “awesome” or “sublime.” Historically, these were words of great consequence, usually associated with nature, not a text-message autocomplete. Living in the Rocky Mountains, I experience the truly awesome and sublime often. The top of a 14’er is the perfect intersection of unspeakable beauty and profound terror.

The point being that you should bring a more elemental perspective to Ellen Datlow’s latest anthology, The
C McDaniel
Oct 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
I went ahead with four stars for this review despite teetering a bit with that last half of a star (for whatever that's worth). While scanning the table of contents before I began this collection, I had one of those "I've read too many of these anthologies" moments. It's only natural that certain stories get repeated in various locations—especially when the editor's the same for those collections. There are times when it gets a little boring seeing the same names/titles repeated, but I truly bel ...more
Toni Boughton
Jul 20, 2015 rated it liked it
As usual, Ellen Datlow pulls together a solid collection by a wide range of authors. However, I found that most of the stories in this collection left me wanting more. This is, admittedly, due more to my preferences and determination of what is 'monstrous' then any failing on the authors or editors.

Still, I'm not sure that I would recommend this collection to that many people, as I was not left scared, disturbed, or contemplative by most of the stories.

*Free copy from NetGalley*
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
Just like most collections Datlow's "The Monstrous" is a mixed bag but overall it is a pretty good read with just a few really weak spots (a one-by-one review of the stories found in the collection can be found below).

While authors such as Jeffrey Ford, Peter Straub, A.C. Wise or Adam Nevill delivered great stuff as expected from them, there were also a few (at least to me) new voices that left a lasting impression. First and foremost Livia Llewellyn and Caitlín R. Kiernan whose stories "The La
Hope Sloper
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Another home run anthology on my “read it, loved it” list. This collection of Dark fantasy/Thriller/Horror short stories was as enticing to read as the title of collection. Some of these stories lingered in the back of my mind, even days after I was done with the book. Most of them made me question my own perception of monstrous. All of them were good, well-written pieces of dark literature published within the last twenty years.
Patricia Ward
Nov 19, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Did not finish..boring.
Bernie Gourley
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
[Note: This book is to be released in late October of 2015, and may not be on your bookseller’s shelves yet.]

This is a story anthology offering tales of monsters—just not your everyday monsters. In her Introduction, Editor Ellen Datlow said her solicitation for stories asked for “unusual monster stories.” She wanted neither “human monsters” (i.e. no pedophiles or serial killers) nor was she interested in your classic Transylvanian Count Dracula. With this book’s 20 stories, the
By any definition, Ellen Datlow is one of the best anthologists working today. She’s earned a shelf full of awards for her work, including a fistful of Hugos and Bram Stokers, and a whopping nine World Fantasy Awards; she edited The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror until it died in 2008, and was brought on by Night Shade Books to fill the void when they launched their The Best Horror of the Year series in 2009; now, she buys the short fiction that appears on Her latest collection is The ...more
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Monstrous is a collection of science fiction and fantasy stories about, well, monsters among us. Edited by longtime SFF editor Ellen Datlow (whose name on a book guarantees my purchase), this is one of those all-meat-no-filler anthologies. The book touches on the amusing (the workaday serial killers of "The Totals", Adam-Troy Castro), the misunderstood (Sofia Samatar's "How I Met the Ghoul", a sort of "Rolling Stone interviews a monster"), and the twisted ("Down Among the Dead Men", Jack Dan ...more
Tim Potter
Aug 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, anthology
The Monstrous is the latest anthology of horror and dark fantasy from Ellen Datlow. While there are some stories that are terrifically entertaining, the collection is uneven in terms quality, but the good certainly outway the bad. There is only one piece of fiction original to this book, the closing story “Corpsemouth” by John Langan and it fails to do more than serve as an uneven anchor to an uneven anthology. Datlow kicks off the book with an introduction that has an etymological look at the w ...more
Corinna Bechko
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, horror
I enjoyed almost every story in this anthology, but there were a couple of real standouts. That's an accomplishment since I've read many a horror anthology that didn't even contain one. In fact, the entire book is worth buying just to read Livia Llewellyn's "The Last Clean Bright Summer." Of course I have a particular soft spot for monsters of the non-human sympathetic variety, so this collection was pointed squarely at my fiction zone. But of course you know you're in good hands when you see th ...more
Joseph Scipione
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ellen Datlow always delivers. There were some stories in here that I just couldn’t get into, but for the most part they were all very good. Some I’d read before, but most were new to me. My favorites were A Natural History of Autumn by Jeffery Ford, Grindstone by Stephen Graham Jones, Doll Hands by Adam Nevill, Jenny Come To Play by Terry Dowling and Corpsemouth by John Langan. You won’t go wrong if you pick up this collection. Solid 4/5
Amanda Evans
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’ve read a lot of horror anthologies, including a lot edited by Datlow, and this one packs a real bang for the buck, with a higher-than-average proportion of very good stories. I do think she was a bit generous with her definition of “monster,” and a couple of the stories were so vague as to be unsatisfying (Miss Ill-Kept Runt springs to mind), but I’ll be going through this one and taking notes of favorites so that I can check out more of the authors’ works.
V Myers

I wanted to like this book more but many of the stories were confusing. Very well written by the various authors but many times I finished a story with only a vague idea (at best) of what was actually happening. A bit too abstract for my taste and not really what I expected even after reading the introduction.
Taylor Grogan
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Editor Ellen Datlow stuns again with a new collection of horror stories from a variety of talented authors including Peter Straub, Carole Johnstone, Christopher Fowler and many more. With a little bit of everything from cannibalism and vampirism to serial killers and Japanese mythology. This book looks to expose all monsters in all forms and does a good job of it.
Andrew Mcgrath
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
My favorite story was the last - Corpsemouth by John Langan
Kayla Verdon
May 15, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a really interesting collection of stories. Some I found really fantastic, but many felt like excerpts from longer stories where the important parts were left out. Overall it's worth a try.
Aaron Bellamy
In short: there are better collections out there, and the 'Monstrous' theme is thin. A more detailed review to come.
Lynne Jamneck
Oct 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
“Knowledge comes at a price, my mother would have said, and often that price is our sense of well-being. Or our innocence. Or our ability to sleep without nightmares.”

“The Beginning of the Year Without Summer” – Caitlin R. Kiernan, The Monstrous

Beautiful Monsters.
We love them, most recently evidenced by TV shows like Dexter and Hannibal. It’s the vicarious thrill of experiencing the human grotesque at a safe distance. To this end, I have noticed a trend in both tele
Jul 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am so glad I read this anthology.

Ellen Datlow has an remarkable CV. A sci-fi, fantasy, and short fiction editor of 30+ years, she is considered one of the best (if not the best) horror editors in the business. Among other awards, she’s won Hugos, Stokers, Locuses, Horror Guild awards, and a lifetime achievement award from the Horror Writers association. She’s pretty serious about horror fiction.

The Monstrous was an excellent introduction to Horror, as the collection of
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Ellen Datlow has been an award-winning editor of short science fiction, fantasy, and horror for over twentyfive years.

She is editor of the Best Horror of the Year and has edited or co-edited a large number of award-winning original anthologies. Her most recent are Supernatural Noir, Naked City, Blood and Other Cravings, The Beastly Bride, Teeth, Trolls Eye View, and After (the last three with Ter
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“everything spoken on this earth contains a truth not always apparent at the time.” 3 likes
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