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

The Secret of Ventriloquism

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  843 ratings  ·  178 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 ghastly means by which so ...more
Hardcover, Limited, Illustrated, 201 pages
Published October 31st 2016 by Dunhams Manor Press
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 Secret of Ventriloquism, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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…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.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  843 ratings  ·  178 reviews

More filters
Sort order
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
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? Something eating at you? You say it’s Horror Week and you have nothing to read? Fret not, my friend, for there’s a simple solution to all of those problems. What if I could show you how all of life’s troubles are merely a trifle. Doesn’t that sound appealing?

And no, it’s not Chicken Soup for the Soul, but merely 20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism. It may sound crazy at first, but if you stick with it I promise, before you know it, all those troubles will be washed away and you’ll feel ri
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 meditation on horror
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 selection/>THE
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
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.
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
Christopher Slatsky
Oct 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Simply put, THE SECRET OF VENTRILOQUISM is such a magnificently realized collection I don't doubt it will be referenced as a litmus test for what dark fiction is capable of offering. Here are nine nightmarish tales that touch upon body horror, philosophical terror, the mystery of puppets, and an accumulation of dread that at times threatens to become all consuming. While comparisons to Bruno Schulz and Thomas Ligotti are somewhat apt, that’s like saying the clarinet was Mozart’s preferred instru ...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 priv
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).
Overall - 4 stars
Story - 4 stars
Narration - 4 stars

There were some actual stories in this thing, and I really liked those. The rest was weird and creepy and sometimes annoying. But it WAS creepy, so I still gave it a 4.

The narrator wasn't bad. He got a little whispery, at times, but for a narrator who was also the author he was ok.
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.
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Creepy, original, and absolutely riveting. A brilliant collection.

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*

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
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
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.
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 ba
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 list favorites, but it is pointless. The Secret of Ventriloquism is more than the sum of it’s parts, the type of book that 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
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 further ad ...more
Ryan Shaw
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this in a single sitting. A single horrifying sitting. I may read it again tonight.
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 something much more than the sum of thei ...more
Claus Appel
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cthulhu
This collection was awesome. Dreamlike stories of madness and horror and realities breaking down into nonsense. The atmosphere and style is very reminiscent of Thomas Ligotti.

The recurring theme of ventriloquism sounds silly at first glance, but Padgett turns it into something truly eerie and resonant.

I highly recommend this to fans of Ligotti and cosmic horror in general.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Horror Aficionados : May 2017 Group Listen Winner: The Secret of Ventriloquism 50 98 Jun 17, 2017 03:57PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Nameless Dark: A Collection
  • Behold the Void
  • At Fear's Altar
  • Gateways to Abomination: Collected Short Fiction
  • The White Hands and Other Weird Tales
  • Alectryomancer and Other Weird Tales
  • Greener Pastures
  • Swift to Chase
  • The Night Cyclist
  • Hasty for the Dark
  • The Spectral Link
  • Dead Clown Barbecue
  • The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron
  • Windeye
  • The Events at Poroth Farm
  • Nightcrawlers
  • The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies
  • Burnt Black Suns
See similar books…
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 , and Xnoybis. His first sXnoybis.
“Accept as the days and nights go by that you are a walking skeleton, an ambulatory miracle of meat. New thoughts come, but they arrive from beyond the foam, beyond the foam, beyond the foamy sponge of your brain.” 2 likes
“The night after the dental pill murder fake out,” 2 likes
More quotes…