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The Sign of the Beast (Kindle Single)

3.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,790 ratings  ·  209 reviews
The National Book Award–winning and New York Times bestselling master of psychological suspense returns with the story of a young boy’s sexual awareness disturbed by cruelty, obsession, and rage.

Eleven-year-old Howard was born with a birthmark on his cheek. His Sunday school teacher mockingly calls it the “sign of the beast.” Too hateful to be named, for Howard she is only
Kindle Edition, 40 pages
Published November 28th 2017 by Amazon Publishing
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Nasser Al-hanna So who do you think killed her and the ending was horrible. Its like she got bored and wanted to reach her deadline quick and hand in a draft. It was …moreSo who do you think killed her and the ending was horrible. Its like she got bored and wanted to reach her deadline quick and hand in a draft. It was confusing and wasteful(less)

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The Sign of the Beast by Joyce Carol Oates is a 2017 publication.

Wow, JCO has written a Kindle Single, published under Amazon’s new ‘original stories’ imprint- and it is available via the KU program if you subscribe.

Although she is mostly lauded as a literary heavyweight, Oates is quite adept at creating a sinister and creepy atmosphere, which is quite effective, and as is often the case with Oates’ work, this story works its way under your skin.

A young man with a prominent facial birthmark f
Dec 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Thank heavens Sunday School is only held once a week.  Even that proves too much to handle for the teeth-grinding Howie.
mark monday
Howie is a husky 11-year-old with a birthmark on his face and an awkward style; his Sunday school teacher teases him in the way that adults who don't get kids tease. She makes him feel even more awkward. He dreams things about her.

How-ard is a husky 12-year-old with The Sign of the Beast on his face; his Sunday school teacher touched him and he pushed her back and now he no longer goes to Sunday school. His dreams about his teacher are getting stranger.

Howard is a husky 15-year-old who is about
Dec 13, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 Joyce Carol Oates is a master at dark tales. I'm a fan of her writing and The Sign of the Beast is no exception of her signature dark tales.

11 year old Harold is a big kid with a birthmark on his face that makes him stand out. Being bullied by your peers is one thing, but when it's your sunday school teacher dishing out belittling comments along with seductive touching causes him to have fantasies both sexual and hostile. His rage builds and she continues to cajole him. He begins to stalk he
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Howard is 12 years old. He's a stocky, large boy and in that clumsy stage just as puberty hits. He's nervous around girls and easily embarrassed. This gets even worse when Mrs. S____ takes over teaching Sunday school at his church. She says his name strangely, says the birthmark on his cheek is the mark of the beast, teases him, touches him..... She makes him nervous and strangely excited at the same time. She wont stop.....seeming to revel in his embarrassment. But then he starts to follow her, ...more
Jan 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
A very fast read by a very well known and loved author.

Only 48 pages, so some of this is left up to the readers imagination and discretion.

HowArd is a young lad with a facial marking. The ridicules do not come from peers but alas from his Sunday school teacher he calls Miss S——————-.

She even doesn’t use his name right....HowArd .

I found it a good little book to finish up on tonight on my kindle.
Aug 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Up until 2 days ago, I had never read a single Joyce Carol Oates story. Now I have read two. My goodness, she can definitely do dark and twisted! In this tale, a young boy that is considered different because of a birthmark on his face becomes entangled in the murder of a Sunday school teacher.

Fast paced with characters that make you want to take a scalding shower!

Goodreads review published 15/08/20
L J Field
Nov 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction

There is a dream-like quality in the writing of just about any Oates story or novel. She inhabits her characters so thoroughly the reader becomes mesmerized as if listening to someone tell you their personal history, with all facets of it at their fingertips. And all too often her characters seem to be on the razor’s edge of complete madness.

This novella had all of those ingredients. It is a story of a teacher who raises previously dormant sexual thoughts in an eleven year old boy and
Dec 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
It was good, but some parts were confusing. The one thing I didn't like was how it felt dated, but then at the same time, it was supposedly modern (Nissan & Target). The mix of (what seemed like) old and new just didn't work for me. However, it was a quick, easy read, and I enjoyed it overall. ...more
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Joyce Carol Oates is one of those authors that I’ve been meaning to read for years but never get to. I think I have read a few of her Young Adult novels when I was a teen but that was so long ago that I don’t remember their plots or her writing style. Then a few years ago I read Zombie. And I loved it. I mean yeah, the story is disturbing and the character isn’t necessarily likable. But Oates seems to really know how to get into the psychotic mind of a killer and describe it so well. This much I ...more
Genevieve Speegle
Dec 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
JCO really knows how to set a scene. I love the way she writes all the characters in this short story. The unreliable narrator leaves the reader with the question of whether or not he is guilty.
Karen Bullock
Dec 03, 2017 rated it liked it
I was slightly disappointed; this was the first book ever of hers that I have read and what looked like it would be really intense? Didn't work so well for me. The beginning was interesting and then a huge chunk of time was completely left out and then the story seems to continue from another point and then details started spilling out. Too much, too fast, too soon. (Like a portion of the middle of the story vanished).. Bummed.
Leonard Joseph Becker III
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
As a character study in the adolescent mind, bullying, and coming into ones sexuality. Joyce Carol Oats did a great job in creating an atmospheric novel with an alluring narrorator. But, something to take into account is not only the style in which this Short Story is written and the narrator's/main character's uneducated mind.
Joyce Carol Oats is known as a master of literature fpr a reason, but take into the account the poor writing style she used to explore that mind of the main character. Si
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
No one will creep you out like Joyce Carol Oates can. No one.
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star
a #kindleexclusive by one of my favorite authors #joycecaroloates THE SIGN OF THE BEAST it’s a great #novella and another ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ read for me. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m biased but it had all her great hallmarks. You felt uneasy because you aren’t sure if the narrator is very safe at all. This particular book really questions how the mind can play tricks on us, leaving us unsettled. It feels good to explore this side of things that aren’t quite right in a nice environment of your own ho ...more
Philomena Callan Cheekypee
I’ve not read anything by this author before so I thought this was a good introduction to her.

This was a short read about a young boy and his teachers sexual awakening thoughts in him.

Although I was confused in parts I’d definitely read more from this author.
Sue Dix
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a short but intense story and I’m not sure what happened. Are we supposed to be afraid of the protagonist/antagonist and is he all together sane? A murder occurs but who did it and why is never revealed, but the tension of the investigation is everything. Joyce Carol Oates still scares me.
Phillip Smith
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written psychological drama.
Dec 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Picked this up as a Prime member and fan of JCO and read through it at about 5:30 this morning. I then fell back asleep and had a truly strange and vivid JCO-inspired dream.

Anyway, I didn't think I liked this Single (novella) all that much, however, it's been on my mind all morning. I think that means I did enjoy reading it on some level because it certainly hasn't left my conscious and subconscious minds.

It's a quick haunting read.

Rated 3 1/2 birthmarks.
Nasser Al-hanna
Mar 16, 2018 rated it did not like it
What the heck was that?

This has got to be the weirdest most confusing short Nobel I have ever read. The weird thing about it was I still didn't want to put it Down because I was I treated to know how it ended. The ending solved nothing it made the story even more confusing. If someone could help me figure it out that would be great.
This is one of those short stories that gets under your skin and makes you think. Or at least, it made me think. We tell our children "Don't talk to strangers" then
we put them in direct contact with people we know nothing about. That is a huge mistake but I'm not sure what the solution is to this problem.

Anyway, I liked the book and hope you do to.
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-kindle
Claustrophobic and creepy; vintage JCO.
Helen Marquis
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Beast mode

Life in a small town is tough. Especially if you aren't like the other kids. Especially if you're bigger than them all. Especially if you have learning difficulties. Especially if your Sunday school teacher decides to start singling you out.
Poor Howard. He's that kid. And who knows where the torment will push him.
An interesting premise badly executed and with, for me, a really unsatisfying ending. Meh.
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
I love JCO, but this story was a huge disappointment, despite the excellent prose. But it lacked any of the hallmarks of what makes a satisfying read for me--sympathetic characters (not only was no one sympathetic, no one was even interesting), clarity, and a fulfilling resolution. I still love this author, but this one was a miss for me.
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Trying to understand the purpose of this story and trying not to allow it to alter my opinion of the writing of JCO.
Troy Lindeman-Wyner
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Free to Prime members. I agree with another reviewer that this story is dream like.
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Almost a throw-away by JCO, but enough menace to make it decent. You'll finish in about twenty minutes.
Stacy Croushorn
Feb 04, 2018 rated it liked it

Not sure how to describe this tale. It could be true, things like this happen to people. But I wanted a better ending.
Sean Talbot
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was definitely warped and wonderful at the same time. It had a great deal to offer and I was hoping for a more definitive ending.
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Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She is also the recipient of the 2005 Prix Femina for The Falls. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and she has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. Pseudonyms ... Rosamond Smith and Laure ...more

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