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

The Fisherman

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  8,281 ratings  ·  1,272 reviews
In upstate New York, in the woods around Woodstock, Dutchman's Creek flows out of the Ashokan Reservoir. Steep-banked, fast-moving, it offers the promise of fine fishing, and of something more, a possibility too fantastic to be true. When Abe and Dan, two widowers who have found solace in each other's company and a shared passion for fishing, hear rumors of the Creek, and ...more
Paperback, First Edition, 266 pages
Published June 30th 2016 by Word Horde
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 The Fisherman, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Andrew Horton "Hex" by Thomas Olde Huevelt is tonally very similar and has a similar location setting. It diverges radically in other ways but I immediately thought…more"Hex" by Thomas Olde Huevelt is tonally very similar and has a similar location setting. It diverges radically in other ways but I immediately thought of it most frequently while reading this. Stephen King's "revival" also goes to similar places and leaped to mind. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,281 ratings  ·  1,272 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Fisherman
Janie C.
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This novel is a potent mix of cosmic menace, human frailties and dark folklore.  Two stories take place along different timelines and intersect in a colossal ordeal.  The writing is masterful, and the reader is literally plunged into a black sea of dire possibilities.  While the situations encountered are those of nightmares, the characters are fully drawn and wholly relatable.  This is a captivating read from beginning to end. 
Johann (jobis89)
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
“It would be a lie to say the time passes quickly. It never does, when you want it to.”

You know you’ve got a real special book on your hands when the first thing you do upon finishing is reshuffle your top 10 books of ALL-TIME. This hasn’t happened since East of Eden this time last year! So that is a true testament to how much I loved this book.

I have a soft spot for books that explore themes of grief and loss. I also go bananas for horror - obviously. So when these elements are all mixed togeth
Jul 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorites of 2016 so far. And I blurbed it! Cue blurb!

John Langan’s The Fisherman is literary horror at its sharpest and most imaginative. It’s at turns a quiet and powerfully melancholy story about loss and grief; the impossibility of going on in same manner as you had before. It’s also a rollicking, kick-ass, white-knuckle charge into the winding, wild, raging river of redemption. Illusory, frightening, and deeply moving, The Fisherman is a modern horror epic. And it’s simply a must
John Langan's THE FISHERMAN is a phenomenal story within a story.

Featuring cosmic horror, quiet horror, psychological horrors and a few scenes that were just horrific in general, I find myself lacking the words this book deserves.

This tale was outstanding and I waited way too long to read it. You should read it and the sooner the better.

My HIGHEST recommendation!

You can get a copy here:

*I bought this book with my hard earned cash and the author was kind enough to sign
Sadie Hartmann Mother Horror
I've been meaning to read this book since I first heard it won a Bram Stoker award. Pro tip: If you're ever looking for good horror books to read, just go back and look at what was nominated and the winners of the Stokers or the Shirley Jackson awards.
So The Fisherman!
I had heard that people were calling this, "cosmic, Lovecraftian horror". But you won't hear these horror buzz words from me because I haven't read any Lovecraft (yet).
But if those descriptions mean that this book has some seriousl
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure where to even begin with this review. Have you ever enjoyed a book so much that you're afraid you won't be able to articulate the experience? That's exactly how I feel right now. I absolutely loved this book, and it's definitely on my list of favorite books I read in 2018.

I've been meaning to read this one for way too long. I don't think I've encountered a single person in the horror community who has a bad thing to say about this novel. Most people have been eagerly encouraging me
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
"A coal black downright awful fish story.".....Oh yeah

Prepare to be totally creeped out!

We're in present day upstate New York when we meet Abe and Dan, both widowers who have suffered personal pain and loss. Working for the same company, the two men ultimately get together to do a little fishing; and while on the way to a new spot, Dutchman's Creek, they stop at an empty roadside diner for breakfast and meet Howard, the owner.

And oh boy....are they told one hell of a fish-horror-story ab

Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I know a horror story worked well when it brings me nightmares...

The Fisherman is exactly the type of overwhelming terror that I grew to like with the classics like Lovecraft.

It starts with a character losing the people he loves most in life and while portraying the events in a realistic way, the story walks into a new territory by having these feelings of sadness and mourning be manipulated to feed something much bigger, much darker and much more unsettling...


POV character Abe lost his beloved
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Every fisherman is a storyteller.

And you won't BELIEVE what kind of fish got away.

As horrors go, we all know it's a hit-or-miss kind of thing. Some writing is fantastic, some of them have great ideas and thrills, and some of them ride that sweet spot all the way through. This is one of the latter. Our hero may not get too many fish on his forays, but his tragic tale, along with his buddy's tragic tale, sincerely sweeten the tale as it descends, steeply, into some really deep waters.

This book has
"I know Dutchman's Creek runs deep, much deeper than it could or should, and I don't like to think what it's full of."

I have never been fishing, so I can’t say that fishing stories are something I care for very much. But If I learnt anything reading a collection of John Langan short stories last October (, it’s that this man knows how to write, and that I trust him to take the seemingly banal and transform it into something I won’t be able to look away fr
Glenn Rolfe
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
I couldn't get into this one. I heard lots of good things, but I just didn't see it.

The book is pretty much two separate novellas smashed together, the better part of which is the present day story of Dan and Abe and the incredible losses they suffer. Their stories start in the first hundred pages, then get interrupted by the unnecessarily long second story (essentially the ENTIRE backstory/story of people who lived in a town bothered by "The Fisherman"). Eventually, we get back to the present
¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪SomeBunny Reads (Phoenix)•*¨*•♫♪

This book was a pleasant surprise, and I am really grateful to the friend who recommended it to me, because it was clear from the first few pages how much I would enjoy it! In my opinion, this novel delivered what The Great and Secret Show by Clive Barker had promised me, a world of lovecraftian monstrosities and conradian horror, sprinkled with a classic, gothic-style "beware of the cursed waters" feeling.

The "story within a story within a story" trope, which many people seem to avoid like th
Michael Hicks
John Langan’s The Fisherman is a slow-burn tale of cosmic horror told on two fronts. This is the story of two widowers, Abe and Dan, who find solace in their shared hobby of fishing and plan on sinking their lines into Dutchman’s Creek, a hard to find locale unless you know exactly where to look. Beyond being hard to find, there’s rumors about this creek…rumors and stories. Dutchman’s Creek has a lot of history, and Langan focuses on this for the bulk of his narrative.

I have to admit, when Abe b
J.K. Grice
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
THE FISHERMAN is a unique blend of outdoor adventure, myth, terror, and history. Some people may consider the horror as Lovecraftian in style, but I'm not sure that's entirely the case. At any rate, Langan weaves an utterly spellbinding tale, and this was one of my favorite reads of 2016.
Jun 24, 2016 marked it as to-read
This copy of "The Fisherman" comes with a signed bookplate signed by John Langan and other WordHorde goodies.

Here is an interview with Mr. Langan about this book and about the wyrd and horror:
One of the best weird fiction horror stories I've ever read; one of those stories you keep asking yourself how does a mind come up with this. John Langan wrote in the Acknowledgments it took twelve years to write and wouldn't have gotten finished if not for his wife's supportive reminders to keep on keeping on with it.

As other reviewers report this is a story within a story. The first, and present day, story is of love and the loss of that love. How people handle loss in different ways and how t
Jon Recluse
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
Abe and Dan, coworkers, with nothing in common but their grief, find the bond of friendship and solace in the peaceful hobby of fishing the streams in upstate New York. Then Dan suggests Dutchman's Creek. Although Abe is unfamiliar with this waterway, he is more than willing to give it a go.
When one of the locals hears of their interest, he feels the need to tell them the legend of Dutchman's Creek, and why it is avoided.
Assuming it's no more than a colorful piece of folklore, a fish story as i
This is a tough one to rate and I seem to be ripped between 2 and 3 stars. Either way, my opinion is rather unpopular as it seems, what with all the 4 and 5-star reviews here.

I know I sound like a broken record, but I'm really strict when it comes to horror. For me, horror is a very delicate matter with aspects as many as those of the human psychology. Rarely can a film or novel scare me lately, and I'm not talking about jump-scares. I guess my being so demanding makes me either a perfect judge
Jul 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror, myth
Not that this book doesn't have it's share of scares, but wouldn't you know the scariest part came at the end. I'm talking the old-school type scare, yet from a completely different point of view. It's the lights go out, dark corners kind of stuff. You know something's coming. Langan makes you feel like you're right there too. And then bam, he still caught me off guard. I'm not complaining about the rest of the book's "scare-quotient". That's not even the reason for my picking it up. I wanted to ...more
This one hooked me right away. (Yes. I went there…I couldn’t help myself.)

I was immediately immersed in the story(s) from the very beginning. I dug everything about it. It was dark and brooding. Cosmic and literary.

Abe and Dan have both suffered devastating loses. Fishing is a great form of therapy for them.

Next on the agenda, Dutchman’s Creek, a hidden river that promises some huge catches. When Abe and Dan stop for an early breakfast at a small diner to wait out a rain storm, they are related
Chris Berko
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely stunning piece of literature. This book made me remember what it was like to first fall in love, it made me remember what it was like to lose something I loved, and it scared the living shit out of me. This is a perfect example of how to do a story within a story but even describing it like that does not do it the justice it deserves. The characters are real, the emotions conveyed are palpable and Mr Langan allows us to get to know each one his creations by allowing them to tell th ...more
Noel Penaflor
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, favorites
Full of melancholy and haunting to the very last page. The Fisherman is a slow burn, but more than worth the read. There's not a literary equivalent to a Jump Scare, but you'll be thinking about long after the last word has been read. Plus, you get to learn a lot about fishing. Yay?
Shane Keene
May 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
*** The following is and excerpt from my review on This Is Horror ***

To the horror community at large, John Langan is no stranger. Hailed by critics as a writer with outstanding talent, he’s been published in multiple anthologies, including several “years best” anthologies, Ellen Datlow’s Fearful Symmetries, and two single author collections--Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters and the critically acclaimed The Wide Carnivorous Sky. And the reason for such a prolific body of published work is q
The Grim Reader
May 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I feel truly blessed as a reader for some of the books that have come into my possession during 2016. It has been the best year yet, as far as I am concerned and we are only 6 months into it! Another home run comes in the shape of ‘The Fisherman’ by John Langan. I haven’t read a great deal by Langan in all honesty but have heard great things. There are writers and there are storytellers. John Langan falls into the latter category. His latest novel ‘The Fisherman’, published by the excellent Word ...more
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely gripping Lovecraftian tale of a man grieving the untimely death of his wife who stumbles into a haunting netherworld of eldritch horrors. Langan masterfully weaves this tale into the ancient local lore of the Hudson Valley of upstate New York, in particular the rural area around the Ashokan Reservoir around the time it was constructed just after the turn of the 20th century. Having lived most of my life in this area, I can't help but feel a special connection to the story, though i ...more
Rachel Bea
I almost never use GIFs in my reviews but:

(view spoiler)

This book spoke to me. The writing style, the pace, the weirdness, the horror, the tale of grief. The imagery was both fantastic and horrifying. It was both scary and sad. I didn't want to put the book down. I won't be able to visit the Catskills and Woodstock without thinking of the story of the fisherman...["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
3.5 Stars
This was a well written, intricately crafted narrative that wove themes of grief into a story that appeared to be about fishing, but was actually so much more.

The characters in this novel were wonderfully drawn. I found myself immediately connected to both widowed men and completely invested in their well being. The majority of the story was told in a close first person perspective, which made for a very intimate reading experience.  It takes a skilled author to make me care about a fis
Apr 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
NOTE: This review was originally published on the New York Journal of Books:

Over the past decade, John Langan has established himself as a master of weird fiction and horror literature. It’s hard to believe that his newest work, The Fisherman, is only his second novel.

The Fisherman is the narrative of Abe (“Don’t call me Abraham,” he insists in the opening lines), a widower recounting the events following his wife’s recent passing from cancer. His mournin
Espen Aukan
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Once in a while a book appears that feels like it is written especially for me. Like the author knows exactly what I love and need, and tells his or her story to me in what feels like a personal and extremely satisfying way. This is one of those books. My first time reading one of John Langan’s novels, and I’m a Langan fan now. This is a small (yet epic scale) horror story as horror stories should be, full of heartbreak and darkness. A story about stories, and about life and death and love and l ...more
Nov 05, 2019 rated it liked it
When I took delivery of The Fisherman, my first impression was that the book looked shoddily printed. The dark sinister painting on the front cover was not bright enough to have its full effect. The pages were large and the book felt bulky and cheap as I held it in my hand.

But a few pages into the novel, I knew I was in the hands of an assured writer. I was glad that I had trusted the words of my Goodreads friends and ordered this horror novel. The first part of the book reads like an Alexander
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Horror Aficionados : Storybundle includes Stoker Award Winner 1 15 Sep 22, 2020 09:19AM  
/r/Fantasy Discus...: * November 2019: The Fisherman 2 37 Nov 15, 2019 12:09PM  
DAB: Extra October Read - The Fisherman 2 11 Oct 08, 2018 12:03PM  
Hudson Valley Hor...: May Book Club Meeting 3 16 May 04, 2018 04:46PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Croning
  • The Troop
  • The Reddening
  • The Deep
  • The Elementals
  • The Only Good Indians
  • The Imago Sequence and Other Stories
  • The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All
  • A Head Full of Ghosts
  • Occultation and Other Stories
  • Last Days
  • The Ballad of Black Tom
  • North American Lake Monsters
  • A Lush and Seething Hell: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror
  • The Ruins
  • Survivor Song
  • The Boatman's Daughter
  • The Twisted Ones
See similar books…
John Langan is the author of two novels, The Fisherman (Word Horde 2016) and House of Windows (Night Shade 2009), and two collections of stories, The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies (Hippocampus 2013) and Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters (Prime 2008). With Paul Tremblay, he co-edited Creatures: Thirty Years of Monsters (Prime 2011). He's one of the founders of the Shirle ...more

Articles featuring this book

Victor LaValle knows his way around a scary tale or two. He's the author of the horror novels The Ballad of Black Tom...
78 likes · 25 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“Heaven doesn’t want me, and hell’s afraid I’ll take over.” 8 likes
“You can make an oyster surrender its pearl,” Clara says. “All you need is persistence and a sharp enough knife.” 5 likes
More quotes…