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

The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  30,492 ratings  ·  1,978 reviews
Twenty-three illustrated gothic tales from the dark corridors of the imagination of Tim Burton. Burton - the creative genius behind Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow and Nightmare Before Christmas, among others - now gives birth to a cast of gruesomely sympathetic children: misunderstood outcasts who struggle to find love and belonging in their cruel, cruel worlds ...more
Paperback, 20th Anniversary Edition, 128 pages
Published October 4th 2018 by Faber & Faber (first published 1997)
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 Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  30,492 ratings  ·  1,978 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Aug 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
This is me--a huge Tim Burton fan (or so I thought):

One day, while carelessly browsing the Internets, I came across a book that I had no idea existed. I couldn't believe my eyes and felt especially stupid when realization hit me: I must have been living under a rock in a God-forsaken place, as never before had I heard of this book:

Of course, as soon as I realized that I had to have this book, another realization hit bullseye: remember that God-forsaken place, the one where I lived under a rock?
Amalia Gavea
‘’The final gasp of his short life
Was sickly with despair.
Whoever thought that you could die
From breathing outdoor air?’’

For most lovers of the 7th Art, Tim Burton is an incredible talent. For us Gothic aficionados, Tim Burton is a genius, a pioneer whose creations opened the audience's heart and mind to the contemporary Gothic style, aesthetics, and philosophy. He is the one who found the perfect balance between the satire of how most people perceive the Gothic wave, evident in Beetlejuice, a
Ahmad Sharabiani
The melancholy death of Oyster Boy & other stories, Timothy Walter Burton
The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories is a 1997 poetry book written and illustrated by American film director Timothy Walter Burton. The poems, which are full of black humor, tell stories of hybrid kids, spontaneous transformers, and women who have babies to win over men.
Some characters of the book would later appear in the Flash series Stainboy, which was created, directed, and written by Burton: Stick
Oct 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: burton fans, dark humor lovers.
Recommended to Florencia by: me!
I am a fan of Burton's movies. So, I was kind of interested in his writings. It wasn't a big surprise to find out that the level of awesome weirdness was the same. The characteristic Burton mixture of darkness and uncomfortable tenderness.

I mean, he wrote some really freaky poems (technically, not that great, and that is a charming plus) but with such sweetness and sensibility that you feel touched. Well, most of the times, just sad. It is written in a way that seems to be funny, and for some p
Mar 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this tiny tome was sort of like taking a prolonged vacation on The Island of Really, Really Misfit Toys. The natives are strange but friendly. They take some getting used to, but after a while, you'll want to hug them...BUT be careful - many of them have sharp objects sticking out of their bellies.


The Boy with Nails in His Eyes

The Boy with Nails in His Eyes
put up his aluminum tree.
It looked pretty strange
because he couldn't see.

The above is a pretty good example of what's in this book
Jun 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour, poetry
A short collection of macabre poems, illustrated like a children's book, but aimed more at the YA market, and delightful for dark-thinking adults as well.

There are lots of gory things about eyes, stories of non-human children (toxic, half robot, half oyster etc) and a most inappropriate present from Santa.

Occasionally the rhythm doesn't quite work at the first attempt, but even so, it's great fun.

It is strongly reminiscent of Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales for Children (my review HERE), bu
“Alone and rejected, Mummy Boy wept,
then went to the cabinet
where the snack food was kept.”

― Tim Burton, The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories


I needed to read today. I didn't want to simply read, I NEDDED to read . I felt a need to clear the voices of Mrs. Dalloway from my mind. The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories, was the perfect book to do so.


This is a collection of grim short poems/stories depicting the lives and misfortunes of a group of sympathetic outcas
Jul 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I don't have much to say. It's a collection of short poems and accompanying doodles by Tim Burton. It's damned creepy, freaking depressing, laugh out loud funny, and utterly awesome.
Rebecca McNutt
This collection of dark comedy poetry was at times very funny and creative, but at other times too strange for its own good. It's a good balance I guess, my favourite one being the 'Toxic Boy' poem.
amy ☂︎
Dec 27, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, 2018, reread
nothing but macabre, delightfully weird and absolutely nonsensical: this is why i'm a tim burton stan.

i couldn't have picked a better time to reread this. halloween month without burton content???? not in this household.

"The Boy with Nails in His Eyes
put up his aluminum tree.
It looked pretty strange
because he couldn't really see."



i would marry tim burton's humor if i could. most of his art just doesn't make sense at all, and that's why i fuck wi
Asghar Abbas
May 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I wonder what it would be like to live inside Tim Burton's head ala Being John Malkovich, such talent, such virile imaginations, to dwell within his noggin for a while, you know? I don't know why but for some reason I have always held Burton's creativity on par with Neil Gaiman's, though their style is very dissimilar, but both have distinct styles, that's almost as important as talent. I feel these little stories about grotesque beauty, and what a beauty it was, were full of metaphors, heavy wi
Apr 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Half-oyster, half-boy, Oyster Boy is born to a perfectly human couple who supposedly conceived him after dining on “one spectatular dish- / a simmering stew of mollusks and fish.” Growing up, Oyster Boy, whose proper name is Sam but is sometimes called "that thing that looks like a clam," becomes a laughingstock (“When the Thompson quadruplets espied him one day, / they called him a bivalve and ran quickly away.) and a picture of sadness and reticence (“One spring afternoon, / Sam was left in th ...more
Apr 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Tim Burton's movies for their beautiful cinematography and sense of macabre with a pinch of dark humor.
His poetry is right up my alley, just like the stories of Edward Gorey (who is known to have influenced Burton).

Roy, the Toxic Boy

To those who knew him
-his friends-
we called him Roy.
To others he was known
as that horrible Toxic Boy.

He loved ammonia and asbestos,
and lots of cigarette smoke.
What he breathed in for air
would make other people choke!

His very favorite toy
was a can of aerosol
Dec 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Damn!!! This is so dark but funny so Tim Burton

Its a collection of very short stories about very strange beings. There are no happy endings at all. You see all of those likeable people ( or matchsticks or whatever ) and you think, aww its sad what happened with them, i bet things will be good in the end.........NO.
Im not proud but i laughed with the most of the stories, is it something wrong with me? should i be worried?

Read this book, i don't know why or how but it will cheer you up
Danni The Girl
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-reading
The melancholy death of the oyster boy was the creepiest one for me I think.

Very short, very weird.

Tim Burton I think has such a vast imagination which I thoroughly enjoy

Although I’m not sure if he’s trying to tell us all that having a child to save a relationship will be the ruin of you?

Sep 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of very very short stories which are all written in verse and have an accompanying illustration or illustrations. This whole book was written and illustrated by Tim Burton who is one of my favourite artists and I was very intrigued when I stumbled across this on Amazon. It's a very small book but it's a brilliant one and I have to say that it was better than I thought it would be.

This collection showcases some of Burton's weird character ideas and stories and whilst some sto
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe how old this book is already, stumbled across it whilst looking in a box in the loft.

If you are a fan of Tim Burton's a nightmare before Christmas and corpse bride then you'll love this book. The illustrations are stunning and really freaky, the poems themselves are pretty messed up. There are a lot about kids and babies and couples trying for a baby, the results of which don't end well. The titles are genius, examples; Jimmy, the hideous penguin boy and the boy with nails in hi
Mairéad (is roaming the Undying Lands)
“Son, are you happy?
I don't mean to pry,
but do you dream of Heaven?
Have you ever wanted to die?”

4.5 stars because honestly it's just plain creepy and I want more!

As a Tim Burton fan myself, I never heard of this until my cousin, who's probably the BIGGEST Tim Burton fan ever (she wears black and she collects EVERYTHING Tim Burton and I'm rather jealous lol) showed me the book one day when I was visiting. It's the most wondrous and bizarre read I could ever have the pleasure of experiencing. It
Viv JM
I picked this up on a whim and am glad I did! This short collection of stories told in verse is (as you'd expect from Tim Burton) funny, twisted, horrifying, macabre and somehow also rather poignant. The illustrations are marvellous too. Personal fave, The Pincushion Queen:

Life isn't easy
for the Pin Cushion Queen.
When she sits on her throne
pins push through her spleen.

Robert Beveridge
Tim Burton, The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories (Morrow, 1997)

Someone needs to explain this to me and fast, `cause I don't get it: how is it that bad poetry (and yes, folks, this is truly bad) and art that looks like a second-rate Edward Gorey ripoff (Burton is not the illustrator that he is the sculptor and animator) can be so insanely funny? I am completely at a loss for why I liked this anywhere near as much as I did.

Let's face it, if you squint right while watching The Night
Charlotte Jones
Apr 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is full of mad ideas and sometimes disturbing themes, but overall these poems are easy to read, enjoyable and enhanced by the wonderful illustrations provided by Tim Burton. It is something that I could easily read just a few poems out of if I didn't have much time, or something that I will definitely be re-reading in its entirity at some point in the future. Robot Boy is my favourite of the collection due to the humour and interesting accompanying images.
Sara Alaee
Strange but nice poems!
Paul Sánchez Keighley
The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories by Tim Burton is exactly what you would expect from a book called The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories by Tim Burton. I mean, come on, it's The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories by Tim Burton! What were you expecting, Shakespeare's sonnets? If you were looking for Shakespeare's sonnets, why did you pick up a book called The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories by Tim Burton? The rhymes aren't great, t ...more
Narges Moini
Feb 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The girl who turned into a bed!

It happened that day
she picked up a strange pussy willow.
Her head swelled up white
and a soft as a pillow.

Her skin, which had turned
all flaky and rotten,
was now replaced
with 100% cotton.

Through her organs and torso
she sprouted like wings,
a beautiful set
of mattress and springs.

It was so terribly strange
that I started to weep.
But at least after that
I had a nice place to sleep
Seeker of dreams
This is a collection of short poems accompanied of drawings in which cruelty and tenderness is mixed with some strange and lonely children.
Its a terribly creepy and madly depressing book, but made me laugh too.

Voodoo girl

Her skin is white cloth,
and she’s all sewn apart
and she has many colored pins
sticking out of her heart.

She has many different zombies
who are deeply in her trance.
She even has a zombie
who was originally from France.

But she knows she has a curse on her,
a curse she cannot win.
Aug 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, 2016
3.5 stars!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
4.5/5 stars

This is an amazing, macabre and melancholy book that I just loved so much. If you're a fan of Tim Burton or dark/melancholy humour, this set of short poems and accompanying illustrations would be perfect for you. I enjoyed all of these poems and the illustrations, no matter how weird they were. It was dark but charming, funny but sad and just super quirky. I really don't know what else to say, this was a super quick read (an hour or less) but was full of weird fun.

“My name is Jimmy,
Maria (Big City Bookworm)
It's no secret that I love dark and quirky things, so it should come to no surprise that Tim Burton is one of my favourite directors/creators of all time. I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't even know this collection of short stories existed until recently. The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Short Stories was full of quirky illustrations and a mixture of hilarious and morbid poems. I definitely chuckled a few times.

This was a perfect collection to read during the month of October and
Dec 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tim Burton is a mystery to me,
Quite literally.

When I was a little kid
I never knew that he's the one who built
Wonka's chocolate factory and said
Beetlejuice thrice.

Now, I have this really dear friend
who sometimes pretends to be Tim.
I never understood his obsession
and why he's possessed by this Tim
until I read this tome.

You see, this Burton does not write like a McEwan or a Joyce
He's words certainly aren't as flamboyant as Wilde's.
But I just loved how simple the work was
and the way it mimed these
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Tim Burton
  • Something at the Window Is Scratching: Children's Tales for Disturbed Children
  • Creepy Susie and 13 Other Tragic Tales for Troubled Children
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)
  • Amphigorey Too (Amphigorey, #2)
  • Squee's Wonderful Big Giant Book of Unspeakable Horrors
  • Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas: The Film, the Art, the Vision
  • Cautionary Tales for Children
  • The World of Edward Gorey
  • Return of the Bunny Suicides
  • Tales of Mystery and Madness
  • Masters of Cinema: Tim Burton
  • Gris Grimly's Wicked Nursery Rhymes I
  • The Twelve Terrors of Christmas
See similar books…
Timothy "Tim" William Burton is a prolific American film director/writer, best known for the dark imagery and quirky nature of his popular films. He is also the author and illustrator of the poetry collection "The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories."
“Stick Boy liked Match Girl,
He liked her a lot.
He liked her cute figure,
he thought she was hot.

But could a flame ever burn
for a match and a stick?
It did quite literally;
he burned up quick.”
“Son, are you happy?
I don't mean to pry,
but do you dream of Heaven?
Have you ever wanted to die?”
More quotes…