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The Atrocities

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Jeremy Shipp brings you The Atrocities, a haunting gothic fantasy of a young ghost's education

When Isabella died, her parents were determined to ensure her education wouldn't suffer.

But Isabella's parents had not informed her new governess of Isabella's... condition, and when Ms Valdez arrives at the estate, having forced herself through a surreal nightmare maze of twisted human-like statues, she discovers that there is no girl to tutor.

Or is there...?

104 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 17, 2018

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About the author

Jeremy C. Shipp

61 books888 followers
Jeremy C. Shipp is the Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author of The Atrocities, Bedfellow, and Cursed. Their shorter tales have appeared in over 60 publications, including Cemetery Dance, Dark Moon Digest and Apex Magazine. Jeremy lives in Southern California in a moderately haunted Farmhouse. Their online home is jeremycshipp.com.

“Jeremy C. Shipp’s boldness, daring, originality, and sheer smarts make them one of the most vital younger writers who have colonized horror literature in the past decade. Shipp’s modernist clarity, plus their willingness to risk damn near everything, put them up at the head of the pack with the very best.” ―Peter Straub

“Shipp’s clear, insistent voice pulls you down into the rabbit hole and doesn’t let go.” ―Jack Ketchum

“I’m convinced Jeremy Shipp is a little bit crazy, in the best possible way. This is one of those books that alters your brain in a way similar to Philip K. Dick.” —Jeff VanderMeer

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5 stars
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426 (28%)
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576 (38%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 390 reviews
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,733 reviews14.1k followers
August 1, 2018
Curiouser and curiouser. Danna didn't fall down a rabbit hole, nor did she follow a rabbit, but she did answer an ad to be a teacher, one with strange instructions. She did have to find her way through a strange maze, full of extremely strange and gruesome statues, to arrive at the house. There were no rrsbbits but there were rats that seemed alive one minute, and the next plastic. Her student wasn't from Wonderland, but maybe somewhere else just as strange if not stranger. There was no Queen of hearts but there was a man who thought he was king of all. She didn't lose her head, but almost lost something more valuable.

Seriously what did I just read? Gothic horror where nothing is as it seems. Mind bending, but a quick and different read.
Profile Image for Schizanthus Nerd.
1,151 reviews241 followers
April 17, 2018
How can a novella with such a brilliant concept and deliciously creepy execution wind up with such a blah ending?! I feel like I was taken on a trek up a treacherous mountain with the promise of an incredible view at the summit only to find out that someone built a wall blocking the view.

I was hooked from the first two sentences:

Turn left at the screaming woman with a collapsing face. Turn right at the kneeling man with bleeding sore the size of teacups.

What a wonderful hedge maze! What an amazing house, with its artwork of silent screams, wings of human fingers, headless figures on stained-glass windows, faces distorted and malformed.

What an intriguing story! A governess who is hired to teach a young girl who “isn’t coping well with this new phase of her existence.” A governess who comes with her own baggage.

I came to this house to escape empty rooms.

A generous employer who ensures their employees’ comfort with luxuries including eighty-four-inch high definition televisions in their rooms. Parents who catered to their daughter’s every whim.

There was such a foreboding atmosphere permeating this novella. There’s something not quite right with the characters and with the information the governess is given. There’s a sort of queasy uncertainty throughout the story, where the line between what’s real and what isn’t blurs for the governess and the reader alike, exacerbated by the unsettling dream sequences.

I was captivated by this story until the very end when I realised that not one of my bazillion outstanding questions were going to be answered for me. I know there are authors that don’t like to spoon feed their readers, preferring them to actually use their brain and imagination to reach their own conclusions, and I’m okay with that up to a point. This didn’t feel like that sort of ending. This felt like there was a strict deadline and about ten minutes before the deadline, realising that there was no way all of the questions could possibly be answered satisfactorily, the author just said, “Yeah, that’ll do.”

I wanted to learn more of the backstories for each character. I wanted more emotion when outrageously weird things happened rather than a ho-hum response. I wanted to know minor, possibly insignificant things like why Mr and Mrs Evers shouldn’t be phoned after 7pm. I wanted to know the details of the ‘accident’. I wanted to know what it was that Mrs Evers was really experiencing throughout the story. I wanted to know the significance of some of the details of the dreams. I want to know which characters are currently alive. I wanted to know what happened after the final sentence! And so much more.

I can’t remember the last book that had me so psyched and then stole the hope of a satisfying resolution from me. Based on the ending alone I’d be giving this novella 2 stars because I was so disappointed. Based on everything that lead up to it I’d be inclined to give it 5 stars but that was when I thought the questions I had would wind up with weird and wonderful answers. So I’m splitting the difference and rounding up to 4 stars with the hope that at some point the author will do a Q&A session to fill in some blanks. I came really close to giving it 3 stars but I loved too much of the story to able to go through with it.

I also have to say that the creepy hedge maze and that amazing house were so extraordinary that I need to move in immediately (after evicting the current tenants, of course). I would also buy and read an extended version of this story if it ever became available and I am keen to read about more of the weird and wonderful things living in this author’s imagination.
Profile Image for Tim.
476 reviews612 followers
August 28, 2018
Disappointing. Extremely disappointing. I really wish I could just go off on a tirade dismantling this book from the start of the review to finish, but the problem is that the book it is not all terrible; there are moments of utter genius, and that makes the situation even worse as it should have been amazing.

The plot sounds ingenious. A little girl dies, and her ghost lingers in the manor the family owns. The parents hire a governess to continue the little girl's education, despite the fact that seemingly the mother is the only one who can see the ghost. Is this a story of madness or a haunted house story? It’s a great set up.

It also has a wonderful opening. One of the best I’ve ever read.

"Turn left at the screaming woman with a collapsing face. Turn right at the kneeling man with bleeding sores the size of teacups. If you come across a big-breasted bear with a child's head in her jaws, you're going the wrong way.


Turn right at the woman sliced into twelve pieces. Please don't touch the statues. Please don't litter."

These are instructions for making one’s way through the hedge maze in front of the manor. The statues are the “atrocities” from the title. This scene is wonderful, and truly intrigued me as to what would happen next.

The other thing I think the book did really well was how it dealt with grief. Mrs. Evers is tragic in her grief, and leads one to question if the haunting is in her head. Even better though is the hints that we get about our own narrator. It’s clear that she’s dealing with loss too, and as I pieced together what happened in her past, I found myself impressed with how lonely of a book this was.

“A little voice tells me to turn off my phone and keep sleeping, but a little voice always tells me to keep sleeping.”

It’s very melancholy and quite touching.

What else does the book do right? Not a thing.

From here on out spoiler warning, because I will talk about major plot points, but frankly I wish I would have known these before hand as I would have probably passed on the book. I leave the choice to look up to you dear reader.

In closing: despite all the promise, this one is the definition of a “meh” read. I should probably give it a 2 stars, as aspects are wonderful, but the book is such a let down overall and feels like it is made on a broken promise given the plot description and the opening scene. An extremely bitter 1/5 stars.
Profile Image for Sadie Hartmann.
Author 24 books4,084 followers
December 26, 2018
Review originally published on Cemetery Dance Extras Oct. 24th, 2018

When a novella starts off with a line like, “Turn left at the screaming woman with a collapsing face,” I’m going to sit up a little straighter in my chair and pay close attention. And that was my reading posture during the duration of time it took me to get to the one hundredth page. Focused.


This story is not for the lazy reader, and I don’t mean that it’s too intellectual or complicated, I just mean that this was new territory, and I needed to pay attention. Almost immediately, I was immersed in the rich, gothic atmosphere. The protagonist, a governess named Ms. Valdez, winds her way through a disturbing hedge maze to find herself on the steps of the Stockton House — the destination of her newly acquired job.

Once Ms. Valdez enters the premises, the reader is taken on a very strange, dreamlike (nightmarish) journey that I can only compare to a Guillermo del Toro-esque adult version of Alice in Wonderland.

The reader is forced to either enjoy the ride, or question everything. My recommendation, if you want to enjoy the book, is to just be a willing spectator to Shipp’s imaginative prose. Suspension of reality is required.

Shipp definitely takes some risks with the story that I’m sure some readers will feel are a little jarring. One minute you’re reading about a stained glass window depicting a parade of headless humans carrying their own skulls, and the next minute a character is marveling at the beauty of a colorful butterfly or randomly listening to the theme song of Who’s the Boss. I was tempted to be put off by it, but the writing is so compelling and Jeremy C. Shipp is so talented, I found myself easily ignoring my own pestering questions.

My only real complaint is with the ending — I’m not really sure if that was the resolution the author was heading towards all along; it felt a little hurried or unfocused in comparison to the micro-precision intentionality of the rest of the book. But despite that small issue, my last thought as I closed the book and stared at the beautiful cover one more time was, “I cannot wait to read another story by this author.” Lucky me, Bedfellow, which comes out in November, is waiting for me on my nightstand.
Profile Image for Michelle .
878 reviews1,271 followers
April 10, 2018
What a strange little book this is.

Danna Valdez is summoned to Stockton House to home school young Isabella. Upon arrival she finds she has to navigate her way through a labyrinth of Atrocities. These are hideous sculptures of depraved images. When she is finally greeted at the front door and is shown around the mansion she can't help but feel eyes upon her. The artwork through out the house is just as sinister as the Atrocities she met outside. These images have the ability to cause horrific nightmares. When she finally meets Mr. & Mrs. Evers her feelings are only magnified by this eccentric couple. The thing they forgot to mention to Ms. Valdez is that their daughter, Isabella, is actually dead yet roaming the halls still.

This book is very dark and disturbing. Mr. Shipp can certainly set the scene. If you are a fan of horror and the bizarre then this is definitely a book to check out. At just over 100 pages I was able to bang this out in just a couple hours this morning. It was a nice change of pace to my typical thrillers I tend to devour.

I'm not ashamed to admit that the beautiful cover of this novella is actually what grabbed my attention. It's perfect!

Thank you to NetGalley and Tor.com for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,376 reviews1,431 followers
June 6, 2018
"You see, Ms. Valdez, we require a governess with very specific qualifications. And this goes beyond a mastery of math and science and linguistics."

Ms. Danna Valdez is summoned to a gothic mansion filled with grotesque artwork to tutor a girl who has died.

But no one told her about the special circumstances of her pupil before she arrived.

"Isabella isn't coping well with this new phase of her existence. A few months ago, she started breaking things. At first it was only a lamp or a vase every few weeks, but things are... escalating." pg 29

Within the mansion lives Mr. Evers, an artist and the creator of many of the grotesques, and his wife, Mrs. Evers, a cook named Robin and a gardener/handyman named Raul.

The emotionally-charged atmosphere of the place gives Danna nightmares as soon as she arrives. And something seems to be a little off...

The premise of this story was very exciting, but I didn't enjoy its execution or ending.

The grotesque artwork seemed to hold more meaning than I was able to glean from it.

"The parishioners would stop and reflect on each Atrocity. And what would they see? Not a hideous statue. They would look beyond the violence and suffering to the metaphysical core of the image. They would see a manifestation of God's power." pg 13

The artwork is creepy, disturbing and sets the scene. But it didn't make the story.

"Each canvas houses an emaciated figure draped in tattered strips of gossamer. Wings made of human fingers spread out from their backs, and their ashen skin stretches tight over their bones like shrinkwrap." pg 16

Recommended for readers who prefer complex imagery over plot development.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,655 reviews5,130 followers
January 17, 2018
Turn left at the screaming woman with a collapsing face. Turn right at the kneeling man with bleeding sores the size of teacups.

What an incredibly atmospheric, beautiful, haunting little read this was.

Ms. Valdez is such a kindly narrator; despite being faced with absolutely bizarre circumstances, she never judges, only views the world around her with wary curiosity and, at times, heart-aching pity. She knows the pain of loss too well to be terribly surprised by the nature of her new occupation, and her lack of shock at the entire scenario was a refreshing touch.

What exactly am I doing here? I came to this house to escape empty rooms.

Early in the story, we see that Ms. V has suffered a terrible grief of her own, and it's all too similar to the reasons why she was called upon to teach poor, lost little Isabella. Despite how obvious her loss is in the story - particularly in her fever-like nightmares - I appreciated that Jeremy's storytelling never dwells upon it long enough for it to be too heavy, or to take away the eerie nature of Stockton House.

A little voice tells me to turn back, but a little voice always tells me to turn back.

My favorite thing about this story wasn't how interesting the narrative was, or how devastatingly haunting the portrayals of grief were; it was the writing, and how genuinely eerie and grotesque it became at times. The atrocities that the story is named for are horrifying statues depicting tragic Biblical moments, and Stockton House itself is filled with its owner's paintings. The writing quality behind these descriptions is impeccable, transporting you directly into the dim, quiet hallways of the estate, where something slightly wicked seems to constantly hide just out of sight.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys tragic, gothic stories about ghosts, and doesn't mind a great deal of nightmarish visuals and scenery.

Thank you to Tor.com Publishing for sending me this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Veronique.
1,231 reviews169 followers
June 2, 2018
This novella had plenty of potential: a creepy house full of gruesome artwork and even weirder people. Is Isabella truly a ghost or is her mother impersonating her out of emotional/psychological hardship? What is haunting Danna? All very Gothic in feel. The language was rich, especially when describing all the unsettling elements, and built the tension nicely. However, all the modern references kept jarring me out of the narrative. Also, I would have preferred a little more depth.
Profile Image for Fiona.
1,220 reviews224 followers
April 19, 2018
Turn left at the screaming woman with a collapsing face. Turn right at the kneeling man with bleeding sores the size of teacups. If you come across a big-breasted bear with a child's head in her jaws, you're going the wrong way...Turn right at the woman sliced into twelve pieces. Please don't touch the statues. Please don't litter.

3.5 stars rounded up for all the promise in this weird and enticing novella from Jeremy Shipp. The first half? Three-quarters even? while rushed in places, were doing so well on pulling me in and capturing my curiousity and love of odd. Unfortunately - for this book, I really think it needed to be expanded past novella and into full-blown book.

So much is introduced that is mysterious and intriguing and really begging to be explored; our narrator's past is hinted at and glimpsed very briefly. The atrocities themselves and this house they surrounded and infiltrated with their twisted faces and bodies - even Princess is sadly deprived of all the page time that should have been hers (that capybara definitely knew more than she was letting on).

I did love this book, I just wanted to love it and get to know it more. The extra story is already there, hinted at and left unexplored; and I think given the time and space to do so that Jeremy Shipp could have turned this from a good, short, interesting read, into a spectacular and mindbending work of horrific art - an atrocity itself, in all it's glory.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,260 reviews222 followers
May 7, 2018
Another excellent addition to the tor.com novellas line with a beautifully atmospheric haunted house story.

Danna Valdez is a governess hired to tutor Isabella but on arriving at the Stockton House she finds herself navigating a maze of grotesqueries to find a gothic mansion almost as bizarre as the maze. The Stocktons are weird, their servants nearly as strange and their daughter ... well, she's a ghost.

The language used to describe all of the monstrous artwork is lush and conveys most of the creepy atmosphere with the rest coming from the bizarre inhabitants of the Stockton house. The ending is an interesting one that can be read in a couple of different ways. Well worth a read.
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,551 reviews2,938 followers
May 12, 2020
I was entirely surprised how much I enjoyed this short story. Normally with short fiction I find it hard to get behind a character and really enjoy their adventure, but our main character here is Danna and she's a new Governess going to try and help a family with a daughter who has an unusual 'condition'. What she doesn't realise is that not only it the daughter an enigma, the whole household has its secrets...

This is short and sweet with just over 100pgs and I read it super quickly. The story is easily enticing and a bit on the Gothic/horror side at times, but it's definitely the right level of spooky for me with a lot of ambiguity throughout. I really liked the way the tension built, and the ending I enjoyed too. 4*s
Profile Image for Lata.
3,589 reviews191 followers
May 9, 2018
A governess is hired to teach a young girl, who she is told is a ghost. Weird, creepy and a little unnerving in spots; the house is full of disturbing art and items, while the family seems a little strange. 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Taryn.
325 reviews299 followers
April 22, 2018
"Turn left at the screaming woman with a collapsing face. Turn right at the kneeling man with bleeding sores the size of teacups. If you come across a big-breasted bear with a child's head in her jaws, you've gone the wrong way."

The Evers are looking for someone to teach their troubled young daughter who has already scared off two governesses. When Danna Valdez arrives at the job interview, she immediately notices that the eccentric Evers' family will not be ordinary employers. As she approaches their home, she's forced to walk through a hedge maze filled with statues depicting biblical horrors. Mr. Evers insists that the statues are "more than mere grotesqueries.” He says if you "look beyond the violence and suffering to the metaphysical core of the image,” you'll see "a manifestation of God's power." Horrific art fills every corner of the house; canvases with disfigured people adorned with "wings made of human fingers spread out from their backs" and "ashen skin [stretched] tight over their bones like shrink-wrap" line the hallway. Undeterred by the home's ghastly appearance, Danna takes the job but soon discovers the horrors in the home extend beyond the gruesome decor.

A little voice tells me to turn back, but a little voice always tells me to turn back.

Before Danna even arrived at the Evers' home, grief and guilt had trapped her in the middle ground between the living and the dead. A tiny voice inside her head is always tempting her back to the darkness, but she forces herself to keep going. Her simultaneous existence in both a living nightmare and a house filled with chthonic decor makes it difficult to separate her surreal dreams from reality. When Danna is finally forced to look in the mirror, she sees a haunted face she doesn’t recognize. She spots something familiar in Mrs. Evers, which triggers an instinctive need to help. The characters are forced to confront their demons, in both the psychological and physical realm. Some of those "demons" actually see themselves as benevolent forces. Danna is repeatedly tested throughout the story, much like the subjects of the statues in the hedge maze. Mr. Evers insists that his employees have "unstained" souls that are "impenetrable to damnation.” Will Danna be able to see past her own flaws and tap into her "equally powerful strengths" in a home where any perceived shortcoming can result in one's downfall?

What exactly am I doing here? I came to this house to escape empty rooms.

I loved the haunting atmosphere and creepy imagery! The nightmarish decor immediately summoned visions of Francisco Goya’s  Saturn Devouring His Son  in my head. The descriptive passages made it so easy to visualize the surroundings, regardless of how bizarre things got. However, I feel lukewarm about the characters and the story. While the ending was set up well, the last act was over so quickly that I didn't feel like I had a complete picture of what was happening or why. Part of that is because I never truly understood Mr. Evers. There’s something about the meaning of the story that I can’t quite grasp, but these are the words and concepts swirling around in my head: virtue/fiend, judgment/compassion, power, conformity, control, rebellion, faith, the Old Testament, and the distortions of a fanatic. I think this novella would've worked even better as a full-length novel.

If you love creepy houses, this book is well worth the experience! It’s only 112 pages, so I recommend reading it in one sitting on a dreary day. The first few pages are available at Tor.com. I think it's best to avoid reading the description of this book because it spoils some of the moments of discovery that I enjoyed.

I received this book for free from NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. It's available now!
Profile Image for Sheila.
951 reviews84 followers
April 23, 2018
2 stars. It was OK.

Things I liked:
1. The cover! It's fabulous!
2. The first 25% of the book--the description of the house and garden--was creepy and gothic. Great setup, and a great premise for a book.
3. It was really fast to read.

Things I didn't like:
1. The ending. It just sort of drifted off.
2. A lack of depth. Things were hinted at but never explained.
3. Though I expected, from the cover and description, that this would be a gothic novel, it's more like a dark fantasy or even surreal/weird fiction. Not what I expected.

I received this review copy from the publisher on NetGalley. Thanks for the opportunity to read and review; I appreciate it!
Profile Image for Kaycee Bowick (Off_The_Press).
84 reviews47 followers
April 17, 2018

Actual Rating: ★★★.5
(A very positive 3.5... This one was hard to rate, due to the short length)

I have to say... for the first half of this novel--every time I stopped to reflect on my reading, I was thinking "what the actual heck am I reading?!"... This novel is super dark, super eerie, and sometimes, just plain super weird. And most of the time, I love that.. but there was just so much going on in this novel. The setting is over-the-top horrifying and dark.. creeping sculptures ("The Atrocities"), gruesome paintings on the walls, strange happenings... everything you see in a horror movie, but 'next level' dark. And the main character is experiencing these odd flashbacks (dreams? hallucinations?) connected to her mysterious past, that are some of the most intense state-of-consciousness experiences I have ever read---I'm talking holes in the walls with eyes peering through them, decaying body parts, and a very psych-ward feel to the setting of these images.

My opinions changed significantly in the second half. Once I became invested in the PLOT instead of the SETTING, I was flipping pages like crazy, trying to figure out what was going on. Being as short of a read as it is, I really can't get much into the plot without exposing spoilers, but it is very much a mystery mixed with horror. There are questions of paranormal entities vs psychological manifestations--and ultimately a questioning of perception vs reality (at least in my opinion..).

At only 100 pages, this is a fairly quick read that I honestly wish would have been longer. There were so many little questions that lingered with me and I found myself totally over-analyzing the ending of the novel. There were also several mentionings of a tragic backstory for our main character that was really left as a tantalizing 'unknown'. I would have loved to have seen more of these things fleshed out on the pages of Shipp's work.

There are so many things I would love to discuss and contemplate with others (because the ending is slightly ambiguous and I'm not certain that the entire story isn't highly symbolic and containing multiple layers of meaning..)--- but I don't want to spoil anything. If you have read or are going to read this title, hit me up on IG or GoodReads so that we can chat about this dark and strange little novel!

Thank you to Jeremy C. Shipp and Torr for providing me with an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review. 

Off The Press Reads:
Profile Image for Clare.
73 reviews7 followers
August 11, 2018
This was a weird ass book. I’m usually a fan of gothic fiction and any stories having to do with old houses and family secrets. But this one just didn’t do it for me. It started off interesting. The author did a good job setting a very creepy tone to the story. There’s a lot of mention of statues and paintings with contorted faces, the color red, and odd symbols. To some extent, the writing reminded me of Edgar Allan Poe. But unlike Poe, a lot of the story didn’t really seem to make sense. The end goal wasn’t totally clear and some scenes felt disjointed and incohesive. The protagonist’s backstory was also severely lacking any kind of clarity. Overall, there were too many unresolved gaps in the story for my taste and it just didn’t seem to flow smoothly.
April 11, 2018
This is one of my most anticipated books this year and lately I've been seeing it everywhere. So I was thrilled when I received an ARC from Netgalley and Tor.com in exchange for an honest review. "The Atrocities" tells the story of Danna Valdez who is hired by a somewhat eccentric couple, Mr. and Mrs. Evers, to tutor their daughter Isabella. When she arrives, she first has to navigate the maze depicted on the cover which is staged with scary and horrific statues - The Atrocities. Danna soon catches on that things might not be as they originally seemed with the family and honestly, with all the characters acting so odd, it was pretty much an obvious conclusion. During the tale, Danna explores what is real and what is imaginary and often the line between becomes quite blurred.

I really enjoyed "The Atrocities." It has a very Gothic feel and the mood and atmosphere is intensified by Shipp's writing. As a reader, I was never quite sure where the story was headed but enjoyed finding out. I liked Danna, as well as the house staff which helped her navigate the home and her new position, even if everyone did seem "off" from the beginning. In fact, I sort of felt as if I was watching a dream sequence while reading.

My main complaint with the book is actually one of the reasons I picked it up so quickly - its length. "The Atrocities" is just a novella and like a lot of novellas, I found myself wanting more. I would have liked to have had a little more story because one I figured out what was going on, I felt things wrapped up too quickly. In addition, I would have loved to know more about why some characters behaved as they did. Plus, Danna has a backstory which contributes to the tale, but I think more could have been said.

Despite my issues, I still really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read and eerie story and I will definitely keep my eye open for more books by Shipp as I am anxious to further explore his writing and storytelling.
Profile Image for Michael Hicks.
Author 35 books433 followers
Shelved as 'quit-dnf'
May 14, 2018
DNF at 36%. This is a short read, but despite that I just cannot get into it and cannot fathom spending the next hour trying to finish it. This is boring as fuck. I’ve got way too many freaking books in Mount TBR and this one is doing absolutely nothing for me. There’s no hook to engage me or hold my interest, and it’s far too plodding for my tastes. I give up.
Profile Image for Stephanie (Books in the Freezer).
431 reviews1,104 followers
March 28, 2018
The Atrocities was an atmospheric and spooky gothic story about a teacher who is hired to tutor a young girl named Isabella. When she arrives, after making her way through maze filled with grotesque statues called the Atrocities, she finds that there might not even be an Isabella. I thoroughly enjoyed the dark dreaminess of the story along with the twists and turns it took along the way.
Profile Image for Tammy.
834 reviews138 followers
April 12, 2018
I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: A surreal, Gothic nightmare of a story that beautifully explores the depths of grief and loss.

I didn’t know I was in the mood for a creepy, Gothic horror story until I picked up The Atrocities , and boy did it deliver! This is one strange story, but it’s so well written and has so many emotional layers that I highly recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind their stories on the weird side.

The story is narrated by Danna Valdez, a woman who has just taken on a governess position at a bleak, crumbling mansion, as teacher to a young girl named Isabella. Immediately the reader is thrown into the strangeness of Stockton House, as it’s referred to, as Danna must navigate a horrific hedge maze filled with gruesome statues in order to get to the main house. Once there, she is met by the household staff: a maid named Robin, Raul the gardener, and the owners of the house, Mr. and Mrs. Evers.

It isn’t long before Danna realizes that her new charge, Isabella, isn’t quite like other little girls. As she struggles to fit into the weird and surreal world of Stockton House, the mystery of Isabella and her odd relationship with her parents is slowly revealed. But Stockton House is hiding some horrible secrets, and Danna is about to discover them, like it or not.

Reading The Atrocities felt like jumping down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland . Shipp throws readers right into the weirdness on the first page and that weirdness never really lets up. I loved the descriptions of Stockton House, with its ornately carved banisters and dark hallways, its portraits of bleeding and twisted bodies adorning the walls, and right in the middle of all the horror, the occupants of the house go about their business as if it were all normal. The oddness of the house is attributed to Mr. Evers’ eccentricities, but even the house staff are pretty weird. Raul is tasked with keeping track of Isabella’s tutu-wearing pet guinea pig, who may or may not be real (seriously, I wasn’t sure), and even some of Isabella’s toys seemed to move on their own at times. Because the reader is never really told the truth about what’s going on, I decided to draw my own conclusions about these strange happenings.

What really made this story special, however, were the emotional themes that Shipp explored through his characters. I'm trying to avoid spoilers, but it's hard because one of my favorite parts of this story is the way each character deals with their own particular loss. Let's just say that both Danna and Mr. and Mrs. Evers have recently suffered tragedies and are trying to deal with them, and I loved that the house acts as such a perfect setting for all the sadness swirling around.

The story takes an even darker turn at the end, if you can believe it, so if you’re a fan of visceral horror, you won’t be disappointed. I think my rating would have been even higher if the ending had made more sense, but to be honest I’m not exactly sure what happened. (Some crazy shit, that’s for sure!) The action felt rushed near the end, which could be why that part of the story just didn't come together for me.

Shipp has a talent for making the reader think one thing, and then presenting a completely different scenario that makes sense as well. I recommend this to lovers of Gothic and emotionally wrought horror who don’t mind some ambiguity in their fiction, and I can't wait to read something else by this talented writer.

Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.This review originally appeared on Books, Bones & Buffy
Profile Image for OutlawPoet.
1,202 reviews69 followers
April 4, 2018
If I had to narrow down The Atrocities to just a few words, I would choose: surreal, beautiful and grotesque.

This is such an odd little book. It’s got the dread of Shirley Jackson mixed with the funhouse terror of Hieronymus Bosch.

From the moment our main character steps into a maze reminiscent of Italy’s Parco dei Mostri (park of the monsters), it’s clear that there’s something very wrong here.

The overtones are gothic, though the story is modern – and it’s very, very chilling.

It seems a little strange for me to describe this as beautiful. Everything in it is so terrifyingly distorted – this is visceral horror – but the author’s deft hand with description and atmosphere lift this beyond your usual horror fare.

The book is well-titled. There are atrocities on so many levels here, but it’s also lyrical, beautiful storytelling.

This one stays with you long after the last page is done.
Profile Image for Steve Stred.
Author 70 books454 followers
October 13, 2020
** Edited as review is now live on Kendall Reviews! **

For as long as I’ve followed Mr. Shipp on Twitter we’ve been Facebook friends, I’ve continually been meaning to buy and read his release ‘The Atrocities.’

Recently, the book popped up when I bought a different ebook and I thought, ‘Ah-ha! Time to do it!’

Instead of adding it to my TBR list, I began reading it that very night.

What I liked: ‘The Atrocities‘ is a gothic Rorschach test. Beautifully written, with some truly haunting passages, Shipp works hard for the reader to stumble over sleight-of-hand paragraphs along the way to have us guessing the entire time.

The book opens with the young woman arriving at the manor, having to first make her way through a hedged maze filled with hideous statues. Once there, she learns she’s been hired to help the daughter of the house to accept where she is in ‘life.’

From there, Shipp fills the story with nightmares, odd characters and strange events. This was a novella that hummed along and packs a lot into a short page count.

Throughout, I was trying to guess what was going to happen and never once did I guess right!

What I didn’t like: There are moments in here that I wish were expanded upon so I maybe would’ve completely got what Shipp was going for. For the most part, this one never read over my head, but a few spots had me rereading it to figure out what was trying to happen.

Why you should buy this: Tor.com puts out some amazing stuff and ‘The Atrocities‘ fits in nicely with the other releases from Tor I’ve loved. Shipp is a fantastic storyteller. He created some moments that felt like I was watching a Del Toro movie.

If you love schizophrenic gothic works, this will be right up your alley.
Profile Image for Jerry.
37 reviews17 followers
December 26, 2018
Hallucinogenic. This is how you will feel while reading The Atrocities. The story rips you directly into Stockton House, and it seems as if it won't let go. The imagery is surreal and constant. The bright sun of the garden and the dripping shadows of every chamber and hallway pull you gently into a dream state. These dreams, they explore the depths of the eerie existence of Mr. and Mrs. Evers, of Robin and Raul, and of course Isabella. Ms. Danna Valdez doesn't flinch, though maybe she should.
Profile Image for Avery (Book Deviant).
370 reviews91 followers
March 31, 2018
See more of my reviews on my blog the Book Deviant

When I picked out The Atrocities, I was specifically looking for that creepy story that, while not giving me nightmares, gives my spine chills or gives me goosebumps. I have a hard time finding these stories, ranging from just the creepy to true horror, so when I get in this mood, 9 times out of 10, I'm disappointed. The Atrocities wasn't any different.

I think, maybe, that the parts that were intended to be scary weren't actually scary because the protagonist was so dull and emotionless that nothing seemed to be anything. Events would happen that would normally scare the shit out of a normal person and Danna would just shrug it off. She went through this story as if nothing affected her at all, even when she was apparently going through PTSD episodes. I found it difficult to feel anything for this story when apparently the characters themselves didn't feel anything. And it wasn't just Danna. It was all of them.

The plot didn't make up for the lackluster characters either. Events happened for no reason, and everything was set up so conveniently that Danna could just sit back and allow for it all to happen.  And when nothing seemed to affect her, this story didn't have much of a conflict to push it along. 

Also, nothing was answered at the end. The ending came about very abruptly, and there was no explanation on Danna's backstory, that was hinted throughout the novella, nor was there a solid explanation on Stockton House or the family. Nothing made sense.

Final Rating: ★★☆☆☆
I have to admit that the story was entertaining enough to keep me reading. I wanted to find out what was happening and why, and see how the characters fared in this bizarre story. And while most of my questions weren't answered, it wasn't a bad story. Just confusing.

And badly written.

Would I Recommend?
It's a fairly quick read, so I wouldn't rule reading it out. But at the same time, I don't feel like I got anything from it. There just wasn't any emotion in the story, and that wasn't something I could handle.

Trigger warning for parental abuse, intense gore, and death.
Profile Image for Mira.
139 reviews12 followers
May 13, 2018
"You must let me have them, Molly. They are nothing to you. They are walking corpses, held together my memories and dreams."

I liked the premise, I really did, but the execution just wasn't up my alley. Jeremy C. Shipp seems to be quite well acquainted with the horror genre but this short story didn't cut it. I felt like Shipp was trying way too hard to portray an eery, chilling, creepy atmosphere. But there is a borderline which, when overstepped, makes everything overdone and far-fetched. And, unfortunately, this borderline was very much overstepped. Then there are the poor attempts at humor here and there, but these are just so unnatural, completely unnecessary, and so badly done they are downright painful to read (e. g. "When someone or something knocked on my door, my heart lurched like the startled man on the toilet."). There is a number of scenes that hint at Danna's (or Ms. Valdez's if you will) past but we never really find out anything about her past beyond the vague glimpses scattered randomly throughout the book. I supposed Shipp was attempting to create an air of mystery around Danna. And it could have worked. It could have, but it didn't.

And the ending. The damn ending. Talk about ruining the entire book with a couple of pages. It confused the hell out of me - it was as if the author took absolute disregard of what he had written prior to the last few pages and just went for whatever came to his mind first. It utterly undermines everything that had been established in the previous 90 pages. I see what Shipp might have been going for but, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, it didn't work out. The ending was left somehow open - potentially to keep the reared guessing long after finishing the book. And the things is, once again, it may have worked was it done just a little bit differently.

The Atrocities is filled with what-if's, maybes, and could-have-been's. I hate when books that have so much potential are ruined by poor execution and lack of editing. I ached to change certain things. This could have been good - great even. Oh, well. Maybe next time.
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,009 followers
July 17, 2018
I really liked the sound of The Atrocities right up front; I did expect something horror/Gothic ish in tone, but kind of expected something maybe less dramatic than this turned out to be. It starts out with great atmosphere and that uncanny feeling, but even after thinking it over for a few days, I’m not entirely sure what I make of it as a whole. Once things started being explained, it didn’t feel quite satisfactory to me, and by the end I was a little confused about what was real. The main character is probably meant to be unreliable, given the recounting of her dreams as almost seamlessly integrated into the text, but it didn’t quite work for me — it just felt confusing as in I couldn’t figure out what was going on, not in not being able to figure out what’s true, if you see the difference there. It started feeling rather rushed, too.

However, I’m generally not a horror fan, so it’s very likely I’ve missed some aspects of the shape of the narrative — the ending felt familiar from seeing the ends of a few horror movies over my wife’s shoulder, at least. So it might be that someone more into the genre would appreciate it more. I did love the atmosphere and the whole first scene, with the entrance to the estate, was perfectly uncanny and discomforting.

Reviewed for The Bibliophibian.
Profile Image for Cobwebby Eldritch Reading Reindeer .
5,125 reviews271 followers
April 1, 2018
Review: THE ATROCITIES by Jeremy C. Shipp

A Gallery of Grotesqueries, a House of Possession and Utter Madness, a Merging of Twin Realities. If Agatha Christie had fallen through a Lovecraftian Portal, and then penned a locked room mystery, with illustrations by William Blake, the result might resemble the vast estate, "The Atrocities," and its family, in this stunning Gothic panorama. (Or consider "The Fall of the House of Usher," if a collaboration by Lovecraft and Mary Shelley.
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