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Guignol & Other Sardonic Tales

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4.24  ·  Rating details ·  45 ratings  ·  15 reviews
“Enter this freakishly inventive cabinet of curiosities if you will, every story providing a redly drippy skull-window straight into the id-vortex of a modern horror master–gape in awe, laugh out loud, feel your mental mouth start to water.” –Gemma Files, from the introduction

Orrin Grey has a knack for cruel stories.

Contes Cruel, to be exact.

Sardonic Tales like the fourtee
...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by Word Horde
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Alex
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The silver screen flickers and then gleams in sharp detail and uneasy contrasts. Every corner of the screen is filled with monsters, films as the esoteric text, forbidden cults, and body snatchers. The popcorn is covered in atmosphere straight from the yellow nozzle.

I love films and television shows as the eldritch text, and Orrin delivers these to me in healthy servings that always have me coming back for more. Considering this, “Dream House” is an excellent place to open the collection. A stor
...more
Dominique Lamssies
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Orrin Grey has a way of taking presented concepts and doing something not only completely original but fun and sometimes heartbreaking. It may not sound like a good, or even feasible, mix but in Grey's capable hands, it is.

This book also accomplishes a rare feat: None of the stories in this book are "meh." They are all consistently good. And there is a solid balance of lighter and darker (though make no mistake all the stories have an element of darkness to them, thus the "Sardonic Tales" part o
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Logan Noble
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the perfect October collection. This book is filled with stunners that creeped me out but also made me smile at the same time. Many of the stories look to the past to find their horrors, which is one of the quintessential themes of this genre that we love so much. Frequent film and video game references run through the stories, ranging from the beloved to the obscure. The reverence and references give Orrin his unique style and set him apart from his contemporaries in the field.

I want to
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Hayden
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’m a big fan of Orrin Grey’s work, and look forward to anything bearing his name. Guignol & Other Sardonic Tales is a mix of new and previously printed material, but I was happy to re-read even those stories with which I was already familiar. I enjoyed every page, but if I had to pick a handful of favorites this time ‘round…

“Dream House”: Perfect opener for an Orrin Grey collection.

“The Lesser Keys”: Fantastic Jazz Age story set in Kansas City. If you enjoyed Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Blac
...more
Micah Castle
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Guignol & Other Sardonic Tales is Orrin Grey's third collection, following his wonderful collection, Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts, and what a follow-up it is. Guignol, unlike previous collections, shows that Grey can dip his skeletal fingers into other dark genres as well and do so beautifully, while remaining knee-deep in weird horror all the while.

My favorite stories from this collection are: "Guignol," "The Blue Light," "A Circle That Ever Returneth In," "The Well and the Wheel, "D
...more
John Jacobs
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This collection makes a big to-do about the stories contained being “cruel” and some of them are definitely nasty, but Grey has a sort of gleeful and roving joyousness in the way he tackles what you might think of as old horror tropes and stands them on their head so that you have to look at them in a new way.

Orrin Grey is proving to be a master of the short-form, alongside writers like Laird Barron and Stephen Graham Jones. You should get this one, for sure. And Never Bet the Devil. *Side note
...more
Donald Armfield
Nov 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Grey has such unique storytelling techniques.
Enjoyed this collection.
My favorites:
-The Lesser Keys
-Shadders
-the Phantom Planet
Alex Ferland
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Orrin Grey is one of those guys who, as far as I know, is doing things with the horror genre that no other author is doing (if anyone is, please let me know!)

Having thoroughly enjoyed how fun, classic, and pulpy his two other books were - "Painted Monsters" in particular- I approached this new collection's assertion that it would be darker and crueler with some measure of trepidation.

It turns out my fears were unfounded. Yes, there are some stories like Shadders and Invaders of Gla'aki that hav
...more
Sam Edwards
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Maybe I'm the only one who reads introductions and afterwards prior to reading collections, but Orrin describes his stories in this collection as "cruel." Those who have read his previous collections may expect a bit of hack-and-slash action horror. There's a bit of that here, especially with "A Circle That Ever Returneth In," "Baron Von Werewolf Presents" and "The Cult of Headless Men."

But the cruelty is in the relationships, in the characters and the things they get put through. "Dark and Deep
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Chris McMillan
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Fun collection of stories, with author notes after each tale explaining Grey's inspiration, including a bunch of B-movies mentioned. Even when I was able to figure out how a few stories would end, it was still quite fun to read them through to the conclusion. I have to admit, my favorite was the sword and sorcery/Lovecraftian choose-your-own-adventure, which I wish was longer and with a few more endings. And anyone who mentions The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake as an inspiration for one of his s ...more
Leland Merritt
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this collection. This book was full of scary, yet deeply emotional stories. My favorites were:

“Shadders”
“A Circle that Ever Returneth”
“The Well and the Wheel”
“Haruspicate or Scry”

This is a strong collection and I definitely recommend.
Ashley Jacoby
Aug 14, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a book compiled of short stories. Some of them a struggle to get through, others very good. Worth the read.
Ava
Nov 19, 2020 rated it liked it
I really struggled to get through this -- every time I started to settle into a story, I'd run into an unsubtle reference to a movie/book/whatever or a particularly clunky turn of phrase that pulled me out of it again. The concepts were genuinely compelling and unique, and I was impressed at how many different elements and subgenres Grey incorporated into one story collection. However, the author seems really hung up on making nods and references to things without actually incorporating those th ...more
Andru Kerner
Jun 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
I made it 5 stories in and put it down. The stories are almost entirely derivative and don't offer much in the way of originality to the table. I found myself cringing at the tropes the author decided to implement and yawning when the horror kicked in. ...more
Kathryn
May 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Review to come.
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Orrin Grey is a skeleton who likes monsters. When asked, he claims to mostly write oubliettes.

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