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Wounds: Six Stories from the Border of Hell

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  716 ratings  ·  147 reviews
A gripping collection of six stories of terror—including the novella “The Visible Filth,” the basis for the upcoming major motion picture—by Shirley Jackson Award–winning author Nathan Ballingrud, hailed as a major new voice by Jeff VanderMeer, Paul Tremblay, and Carmen Maria Machado—“one of the most heavyweight horror authors out there” (The Verge).

In his first
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 9th 2019 by Gallery / Saga Press
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Alex As far as I can tell, there's an opening quote mark missing from the start of the first paragraph, and the entire third paragraph is also meant to be…moreAs far as I can tell, there's an opening quote mark missing from the start of the first paragraph, and the entire third paragraph is also meant to be in quotes. Both of those sections are being spoken by the big guy, not about the big guy.(less)

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Adam Nevill
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Been looking forward to this book from the moment I finished the last Nathan Ballingrud collection, a few years back. And I read my copy of 'Wounds' right after the book arrived. One evening and the following morning was all it took and I didn't want the stories to end.

As with Nathan's first collection, I couldn't leave this one alone. Genuinely entertaining horror containing all of the dread and hideous aesthetics of the best in the field.

The final novella - 'The Butcher's Table' - is new to
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are two unifying themes throughout the six stories in the spellbinding collection. The first should be obvious from the title: Hell. All of these stories in some way deal with a person having a hellish encounter. Sometimes this involves demons, other times it’s a little less obvious. What makes it fascinating thought is that while each story works well on an individual basis, they create a something of a tapestry when viewed together, creating something like a mythology of Hell. Little ...more
Janie C.
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These stories emerge from the depths of mutated pyches, scarring the mind with indelible artistic configurations produced by the mutilation of accepted life forms. From the most remote corners of the abyss come sounds that can only be produced by torn and broken lives. These surfacing beings have been transformed into formidable and awe-inspiring atrocities. Beware the siren, as the song that emerges is as deadly as it is beautiful.
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Nathan Ballingrud's North American Lake Monsters was an excellent debut collection, but Wounds took his writing to the next level. You can see his increased confidence; he's gone from writing extraordinary events happening to ordinary people in ordinary places, to creating his own world, and placing these stories on it's fringes. It's not until the last story that it truly comes together, but when it does you see the entirety of the story of this collection; it's a really well executed ...more
Apr 03, 2019 marked it as to-read

001 - "The Atlas Of Hell" (2014)
030 - The Diabolist" (2014)
049 - "Skullpocket" (2014)
089 - "The Maw" (2017"
108 - "The Visible Filth" (2015)
178 - "The Butchers Table" (original to this collection)
277 - Acknowledgments
Jenny (Reading Envy)
How can I communicate the darkness of this book? "Sacs gravid with ochre liquid," "tooth-spangled pinwheel of limbs," or how about "meaty exhalations?" I must admit I don't read much horror but I make an exception for this author. He is truly one of the best.

Unlike the author's previous story collection, North American Lake Monsters, which I always thought centered humanity inside of emotional and fantastical horrors, this story collection takes humans where they should not be (turn back!) The
Michael Hicks
My review of WOUNDS can be found at High Fever Books.

Nathan Ballingrud makes for one hell of a tour guide along the border separating life on Earth from eternal damnation. His collection, Wounds, brings together six stories all about the permeation between these two realms.

“The Atlas of Hell” kicks things off in remarkably strong fashion. Ballingrud delivers a work of Bayou noir that sees a rare book dealer pressed into service by his mob associates into recovering the atlas of Hell. There’s
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-fiction, horror
Wounds was tremendous, easily one of the best single author short story collections I've ever read. I had read two of the six stories already—"Atlas of Hell" in Year's Best Weird Fiction and "The Visible Filth" in chapbook format, which I guess makes me one of those weird fiction/horror nerds. The other four stories, new to me, with one being new to the collection, ranged from ok ("The Diabolist") to absolutely one of my all-time favourite ever ("The Butchers Table"). The collection is loosely, ...more
Ben Loory
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
i liked ballingrud's first collection a lot, but the story "the atlas of hell" (included in this volume) just makes my entire head vibrate wildly every time that i read it. a truly terrifying story... i mean there's a real, true, unearthly power to it and I can't even begin to understand where it comes from or how it works or why i'm responding to it so strongly. And then the other 5 stories are just as good-- maybe better?? I hope he writes 50 more of these.
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Nathan Ballingrud's debut collection North American Lake Monsters was one of the best things I read in 2014. I was surprised that a first collection would be so polished and confident but there is no denying it - Ballingrud's writing is something special.

His second collection, Wounds, more than lives up to the high standards set by NALM. Six lengthy stories, consisting of five reprints from anthologies and one original to the collection. I had only read two of the five reprints previously, and
Tracy Robinson
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars! This review will be up on on 4/9 - release day!

Here's the full review:

This collection contains five previously published stories and one brand new novella: “The Atlas of Hell” (2014), “The Diabolist” (2014), “Skullpocket” (2014), “The Maw” (2017), “The Visible Filth” (2015), and “The Butcher’s Table” (2019). Note: prior to reading this collection, I hadn’t previously read any of these pieces.

“The Atlas of Hell”

Jack is just a sweet used book seller who used to
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was one of those collections that I felt compelled to continue reading at any cost.
So well written
Stories from the border of Hell is an apt subtitle


I'll leave you with this little morsel

Walking the perimeter of the building were three dark-robed figures, their heads encased in black iron boxes. They exuded a monastic patience, moving slowly and with obvious precision. The lead figure held an open book in his left hand, scrawling something into it with his right. The
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Scattered thoughts written under the influence (of this book, which I just finished): I loved this. Tore through it in days. Read it at night, on breaks, when I should have been working, whenever. It might not be for you, being weird as shit and dark as hell; but it's certainly for me.

I've been vaguely aware of Ballingrud's first book for years. North American Lake Monsters has lived in my wishlist for ages, in part because everyone else seemed to love it, but also because the cover drew me in
Jo Quenell
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Nathan Ballingrud is one of my favorite short story writers. North American Lake Monsters knocked me on my head with its “Raymond Carver meets existential horror” approach, and to this day probably remains my favorite single-author collection of horror fiction. “Wounds” had a lot to live up to. I’m so pleased that it’s every bit as good as its predecessor.
“Wounds” consists of 6 stories, all varying stylistically and thematically. There is much more of a pulp horror feel compared to some of
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A literary gothic grotesque extravaganza extraordinary horror inferno walking living breathing ballads of hell in the narrative.
Consuming stories vividly evoked and careful crafted with arcaneness taken the reader the precipice of malevolence with aspects of an inferno conjured and envisioned by the author.

Four of six for me the most notable.

The Atlas of Hell
Little bookstore in New Orleans, Oleander Books, lurks owner Jack Oleander one connoisseur and acquisitor of books, legally and
Oct 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A world building and story telling masterclass.

Nathan Ballingrud moves into my 'must read' category.

His writing though completely unique in style to him echoes the brilliance of my favourite author Clive Barker and I can't offer a higher compliment than that.
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't really review things, and most likely no one will see this, but if you do, this is the best horror story collection I have ever read. Do yourself a favor and read it as soon as possible.
Nov 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ah-deadly, yikes
Nathan Ballingrud writes some deeply disturbing, epically gory shit and I think that's just great. This collection contains my beloved "Skullpocket" which is somehow better than I remember every time I read it, and "The Visible Filth," thank god not as flat out terrifying the second time around but still one of my very favorite horror stories ever (also now a movie on netflix that I will never have the spine to actually watch). The only dud is "The Diabolist," nice in that it sets up the concept ...more
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a great mix of gory and creepy horror stories. The first few stories were shorter and they got longer as they went. I really loved the first few stories - I wish they had been longer. I was completely immersed in the worlds and the lore or the gory details. The later and longer ones were gorier but also fascinating in their paranormal or science based ideas. The bartender one was great and now I'm itching to find the movie recently made. I'm so glad I stumbled on this set of stories. I ...more
May 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Mr. Ballingrud is a gifted writer with a boundless imagination, and I respect his willingness to experiment. In five of these six stories, Mr. Ballingrud had dispensed with the standard horror trope of a character's hapless descent into evil and instead presents the evil as a fait accompli with which all the characters are already familiar. But the sixth story, "The Visible Filth," employs this shopworn technique, and demonstrates exactly why it's so shopworn: when there's no sense of revelation ...more
Orrin Grey
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In the introduction that he was kind enough to add to the hardcover reissue of my first collection, Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings, Nathan Ballingrud wrote, "Orrin Grey is a writer who reminded me of things about myself, and about our haunted world, that I'd forgotten. He reminded me of my first loves, and he taught me that they can - no, that they should - still be honored. For that, I will always be in his debt."

If I had even the smallest hand in helping to usher into existence any
Logan Noble
An incredible collection and a testament to what a good horror collection should look like.
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horrorfest-2019
An outstanding collection of horror stories that surprised and scared me in equal measure. I first heard of this book through the movie adaptation of "The Visible Filth". So I read the story first in order to watch the movie. Then I proceeded to read the rest of the stories and was amazed by how they are interlinked and provide a larger context to the unknown universe glimpsed by the characters in that story. I recommend reading the stories in order! They are arranged with purpose, so that you ...more
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
4 stars as a whole but “The Butcher’s Table” is a 5 star must read story within this collection of tales.
DeAnna Knippling
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Tales of the ordinary damned and the strange hell to which they belong.

The stories here all stand alone, but are tied together by the same version of hell, a strange and nearly Lovecraftian place. It was all inventively odd and moving, for an infernal realm, varied among stories for all that it was the same place.

Don't look for decency or kindness--although you will find it in one of the stories. For the most part, these are tales of people who, although they seem and may even think of
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Gory Galore! Not for the weak at heart. Good short stories.
Ada Veen
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
An unsettling collection of the urban fantastic with a historical pirate novella tying it all together. If you're a fan of horror and wonder in equal suffocating measure, you'll love this book.
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The story that opens Wounds would fit right in with the grimy, dismal horror realism of North American Lake Monsters. It takes place in a New Orleans full of cruel and desperate people dealing with even deeper and dingier evils. But there's a hint of lightness about it that wasn't present in Ballingrud's previous collection, and as this one goes one, it becomes clear that the first story is sort of a pivot into a completely new kind of Weird, one with a dark, playful humor and exuberant ...more
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
A word of warning: Wounds is dark, incredibly dark.

When I read the "Six Stories from the Border of Hell" subtitle, I figured it was a figurative Hell. But, oh no. These stories are literally about Hell. Which was unexpected, but ultimately invigorating.

There are six stories here, but 3 really stood out to me.

The Visible Filth, which is apparently becoming a movie, is a truly disturbing story with a shocking ending. While reading it, I was reminded a lot of the first time I saw the movie
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I'm the author of North American Lake Monsters: stories, coming from Small Beer Press in July 2013. I'm currently at work on my first novel and several more short stories. I live with my daughter in Asheville, NC.
“And then Carlos thought, You left me. You left me in the end. Why? He hugged his dog close, burying his nose in her fur. He knew there was no answer beyond the obvious, constant imbalance in any transaction of the heart. You don’t love me the way I love you.” 0 likes
“Carlos had never married; he'd become so acclimated to his loneliness that eventually the very idea of human companionship just made him antsy and tired. It was not as though he'd had to fight for his independence; his demeanor had grown cold and mean as he aged, not from any ill feeling toward other people, but simply from an unwillingness to endure their eccentricities. He had a theory that people warped as they aged, like old records left out in the sun, and unless you did it together and warped in conformity to each other, you eventually became incapable of aligning with anybody else.” 0 likes
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