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The Secret of Ventriloquism

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,123 ratings  ·  214 reviews
Jon Padgett's The Secret of Ventriloquism, named the Best Fiction Book of 2016 by Rue Morgue Magazine, heralds the arrival of a significant new literary talent. With themes reminiscent of Shirley Jackson, Thomas Ligotti, and Bruno Schulz, but with a strikingly unique vision, Padgett's work explores the mystery of human suffering, the agony of personal existence, and the gh ...more
Hardcover, Limited, Illustrated, 201 pages
Published October 31st 2016 by Dunhams Manor Press
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Anita Baker I can't even choose the story I liked best. Which ever story I was reading at the time, I guess. What was the best for me however, was the way all the…moreI can't even choose the story I liked best. Which ever story I was reading at the time, I guess. What was the best for me however, was the way all the stories were interconnected in so many different ways: sequence of events and timeline, characters, locations and more. Was this planned while writing the stories or added later? Whichever-it worked so well!(less)
Jon The original hardcover book had three internal illustrations by Dave Felton. A new edition is included in the box set, SECRET GATEWAYS. This lush edit…moreThe original hardcover book had three internal illustrations by Dave Felton. A new edition is included in the box set, SECRET GATEWAYS. This lush edition will include 13 color illustrations by Harry 0. Morris. It is set to ship on November 24, 2019.

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Edited 3.21.17 to add: This book is FREE today, everyone! Do yourself a favor and check it out, (scroll down to link below)!

The genre of fiction that I identify as weird tales has always appealed to me, though it's hard to describe. There are also...flavors of weird tales, they're not always the same, even though they may belong to the same genre. For instance, Thomas Ligotti may be described as an author of weird fiction. While I love his style, I often find his work too nihilistic for me. La
Janie C.
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Do you want to see something strange? Are you certain? Ok. First, take a look at the cover illustration on this book. Study the details. You will remember them later. Next, pay close attention to the details in each consecutive story. Be sure to read them in order. You will begin to notice recurring images. They're so uncanny ... are they real? The sights on the Indoor Swamp tour are certainly disorienting. Is this deja vu? Have you been here before? That city outside is vaguely familiar. How ma ...more
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I cannot think better way to start this 2017 New Year than with a good book. And with Jon Padget’s “The Secret of Ventriloquism”, which is published by Dunhams Manor Press , I have found a real winner.

The book is a collection of Mr. Padget’s short stories and a play, now packaged all together in a single volume that should be sought out. Not only does the book offer a fantastic dust jacket, there are also some nice interior illustrations by Dave Felton. And for those that do not know the name Jo
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dunhams-manor
Over the past few years I have been tantalized by, and read, several overhyped debut collections. In the somewhat incestuous-seeming, segregated, and cliquish horror and weird fiction communities, writers, publishers and reviewers were bending over backwards to heap praise and accolades upon newer writers, who, quite frankly, still had a long way to go to hone their craft. Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying that I didn't get anything out of reading these fledgeling collections, or that there was ...more
Ɗẳɳ  2.☊
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ɗẳɳ 2.☊ by: Char
Why the long face? Life got you down? What’s eating you? Aw, you say it’s Horror Week and you have nothing to read? Well, fret not, my friend, for there’s a simple solution. What if I could show you how all of life’s troubles are but trifles. Now, doesn’t that sound appealing?

And no, it’s not Chicken Soup for the Soul, merely 20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism. Sounds crazy, right? Well, stick with it and I can promise you, in no time at all, you’ll feel right as rain!

The first eight steps lay
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, short-stuff
It is best not to think about what must come next.
It might be too dismissive to call The Secret of Ventriloquism merely a short story collection. It's much more than that. It's more than just the sum of it's parts and as you experience each story more layers are built onto the themes, location and characters, and you'll realize that the stories form one cohesive whole. It's similar to what Laird Barron also did last year with Swift To Chase .

The book opens fittingly with a guided
4.5 stars!

THE SECRET OF VENTRILOQUISM, by Jon Padgett, is a collection of stories ingeniously interconnected to each other. This is one book that you really need to read the stories in the order presented to get the full effect of just how powerful this book, as a whole, is.
Even the cover (I own the paperback version) has bearing on the stories contained within.

Padgett gives a great deal of credit to Thomas Ligotti for the inspiration of this collection. Right from the beginning in the selec
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star-reads
A dark and brooding collection of Ligotti inspired shorts. Make no mistake about it though, the superb writing and brooding atmosphere is all Padgett.

Plus, everybody knows ventriloquist dummies are fucking creepy.

Ligotti would be proud.
Jul 04, 2020 marked it as to-read
That's my favourite doll on the cover.
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: an ill-directed mind
Recommended to S̶e̶a̶n̶ by: the number of fingers on my right hand
After a few recent lackluster experiences with story collections, I approached Jon Padgett’s The Secret of Ventriloquism with wary anticipation. Certainly it’s been rated highly by many readers, including trusted friends, but so had the aforementioned collections. So I was pleased to discover how much I enjoyed these interconnected stories. The fact that they were interconnected made me more inclined to like the collection, as I find this quality in a collection always helps me stay engaged, pro ...more
Mark Samuels
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm sure that this book will appeal to all those of an ideological and censorious Leftist persuasion. Whether that constitutes a recommendation or not depends on your own personal outlook.
T.E. Grau
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A spectacular debut for an important contemporary writer of the truly Weird.

Full review coming soon...
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the more impressive horror/weird fiction collections that I've read this year... I like how many of the stories are connected (either by location/characters, thematic content, or certain repeated imagery: derelict paper mills, static, daddy longlegs spiders, black fog, ventriloquist dummies): the overall effect is like experiencing a string (or first dark ride) of queasy hypnagogic dreams, with characters continually floating into and out of existence. I think my favorite tales in this on ...more
Benoit Lelièvre
Dec 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book has apparently become already difficult to find because it was a limited edition, but I highly suggest visiting Dunhams Manor Press' website and enquiring about it because it is worth tracking. I didn't know when to expect when I started THE SECRET OF VENTRILOQUISM, but I didn't expect it to be this good.

The highlight stories of this book are MURMURS OF A VOICE FOREKNOWN, 20 SIMPLE STEPS TO VENTRILOQUISM and THE INFUSORIUM, which is one of the rare stories I've had the privilege to rea
David Peak
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My interview with Jon is up at the Fanzine.

In it we discuss Hurricane Katrina and other disasters, meditative emptiness, suffering, how the past haunts the present, the illusion of identity, and tons of other fun, upbeat stuff.

Adam Light
Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow. I'm impressed. I have always been nervous about ventriloquist dummies, but now they horrify me. This book is remarkably good. I will read it again.
4.5 stars rounded up. I could have done without Organ Void, but overall an astonishing debut collection that every horror fan should read. It was especially satisfying to realize how each story was connected to the others (with the exception of two, which still shared recurring imagery).
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Creepy, original, and absolutely riveting. A brilliant collection.

Apr 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting book. Not sure it's for everyone, but for a specific horror fan in a specific mood this can be just the thing. Read this one based on the glowing reviews by my horror aficionado friends and it didn't disappoint, though I can't say I loved it as much as they did. I also can't compare this to the works of Ligotti, having never read any, so I just only judge the book on its own merit and as such it was profoundly disturbing, eerie, atmospheric collection of short stories, interconn ...more
Michael Adams
This is an incredible collection, both dark and imaginative. Also, even though this is a collection of short stories rather than a single novel, it very effectively uses repeated motifs and common set-pieces to posit its very own mythos of lesser and greater ventriloquists. Lesser ventriloquists are those we're familiar with, voice throwers and puppeteers, the greater variety? They can make dummies of the very world around them, pulling peoples strings to tragic and devastating effect. The struc ...more
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some of the creepiest ass short stories I've read. These stories are the things of nightmares.

Review to come.
Betty Rocksteady
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A series of interconnected weird fiction. Each piece stands on its own, but as part of the whole makes up something altogether weirder and more horrifying. Absolutely beautiful.
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I almost bought this in the limited-edition numbered hardcover. Alas, I waited too long and only got the signed softcover. I regret that decision now. Really regret it, deep down in my bones. Had I known that this collection, this book was going to be so strong, I would have dropped the cash in a heartbeat. I've been reading a lot of short fiction collections lately, and this is among the best I've read in recent memory, which is saying something, as I've read some great ones. So, without furthe ...more
May 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is unsettling. It's pure atmosphere, existential dread, and quiet horror. As I said to a friend in recent weeks, the sort of horror you find in this book is like coming home to discover someone has broken in, except they haven't stolen anything--instead they've left something for you to find. You don't know what it is, but the feeling, the dread, is there. That something doesn't belong. Something is out of place. And it can see you.

A few things you should know: It's a collection. Some
Michael Craft
Dec 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book arrived in my box on Friday and I've spent the last two days savoring it, (all but the play also named "The Secret of Ventriloquism," which I am saving for another mood).

This is an excellent work! Halfway through the 2nd chapter, "Murmurs of a Voice Foreknown," I found myself saying, "This is a great story. Not sure about the critics' early comparisons with Ligotti, but great nonetheless." But then after finishing the 4th chapter, "Origami Dreams," I was starting to come back around to
Michael Hicks
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, horror, bought
First off, huge thanks to my Staring Into The Abyss podcast co-host, Scott Kemper, for bugging the shit out of me to read Matthew M. Bartlett and Jon Padgett, because holy shit, these guys are good. Padgett's The Secret of Ventriloquism is an awesome collection of linked short stories revolving around the mysterious, and oftentimes horrifying, Dunnstown, a place so peculiar its central tourist attraction is an indoor swamp.

I loved how Padgett twisted the concept of ventriloquism into something
If​ ​you​ ​are​ ​reading​ ​this,​ ​I hope you​ ​pick​ ​up​ ​The​ ​Secret​ ​of Ventriloquism.​ ​This​ ​is​ ​not​ ​just​ ​any​ collection​ ​of​ ​stories.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​eerie​ ​and​ ​uncanny​ ​how​ ​much​ ​I​ ​will remember​ ​this​ ​book​ ​and​ ​the​ ​ominous​ ​voice​ ​that​ ​speaks​ ​through​ ​it.​ ​The​ ​ventriloquism​ ​theme​ ​is​ ​a disturbing​ ​thread​ ​that​ ​runs​ ​through​ ​most​ ​of​ ​the​ pieces​ ​as​ ​they​ ​wrap​ ​around​ ​each​ ​other,​ ​but​ ​is one​ ​of​ ​many.​ ​I​ ​would​ ​love​ ​to​ ...more
Simon Avery
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Secret of Ventriloquism by Jon Padgett.
This is an outstanding collection. There's a really genuine sense of the uncanny built up over the course of these tales, and a brilliant sense of cohesion. Threads of information and themes criss-cross and connect, suggesting a strange larger picture.
Jon plays with methods of storytelling- a self-help meditation, a guide to ventriloquism in 20 steps, and a play in 1 act scattered between the stories, and the cumulative effect is brilliantly sustained
Twerking To Beethoven
Not bad, not bad at all. The content is as creepy as the cover. This collection reminds me of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories, especially "Murmurs of a Voice Foreknown", "The Indoor Swamp" & "Origami Dreams". "20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism" features a slow but truly effective build-up. "The Secret of Ventriloquism" is a script and one of the best stories of the lot, "Escape to Thin Mountain" is 24 carat Lovecraft.

I would recommend this anthology to every arachnid lover out there. *winks*

daddy longlegs
Orrin Grey
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I didn't read very many books in 2016, but I did have the good fortune of reading two modern classics of weird horror; books that I'm pretty sure we'll still be talking about twenty or thirty years from now. The first of those was Matthew M. Bartlett's Creeping Waves. The second was Jon Padgett's The Secret of Ventriloquism. Both are less short story collections in the usual sense than they are gateways to the author's particular vision; made up of vignettes and ephemera that combine to create s ...more
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Horror Aficionados : May 2017 Group Listen Winner: The Secret of Ventriloquism 50 98 Jun 17, 2017 03:57PM  

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Jon Padgett is a professional—though lapsed—ventriloquist who lives in New Orleans with his spouse, their daughter, and two cats.

Padgett is the founder and longtime administrator of Thomas Ligotti Online, and has been the first publisher for a number of Ligotti’s prose works, including My Work is Not Yet Done and Crampton.

Padgett has work out or forthcoming in Pseudopod , Lovecraft eZine ,

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