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The Nightmare Factory

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  1,173 ratings  ·  61 reviews
In the realm of the supernatural, Thomas Ligotti is the master of stylish, eerie writing of the highest quality. This new edition brings together his collected short stories with 'Teatro Grottesco', a sequence of new stories not published before.

The Frolic (1982)
Les Fleurs (1981)
Alice's Last Adventure (1985)
Dream of a Mannikin (1982)
The Chymist (1981)
Drink to Me O
Paperback, 552 pages
Published June 27th 1996 by Carroll & Graf (first published 1984)
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4.32  · 
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 ·  1,173 ratings  ·  61 reviews

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Nov 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This collection compiles stories from Songs of a Dead Dreamer, Grimscribe: His Lives and Works, Noctuary & Teatro Grottesco into one big volume.

Following my recent decision about large reviews, I'll present this in a three-tiered format (short to long) with the story by story analysis left for the last tier (and presumably only of interest to those who have read the book). Those who hang in for the long haul can see how often I abuse the shortcut word "titular!"

I decided to re-read this, st
Rebecca McNutt
This is an excellent collection of horror stories, and most of them follow entirely original concepts. If you're a horror fan and you've never read this book, you should definitely check it out.
Emm - One Thousand Years of Books
The Nightmare Factory is not a collection but a labyrinth - a bio-synthetic organism that in the dusk appears to be a smokestack, breathing onto the sky's canvas its knowledge of unimaginable nightmares which take no form, and by the dawn you can see it was never actually there at all.

A rich, seething collection of stories that bottles its nightmares to poison you with them gradually. Ligotti's language breeds black, galactic neurons on the surface of your mind. They can be slow-going but noneth
Aug 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Great horror for those who prefer atmosphere and dread over character-driven plot. It took me a few years to acquire the taste, but now I'm hooked. Ligotti is one of the giants of American horror (the others being Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft). The Nightmare Factory collects most of Ligotti's previously published stories as well as some that were new to the book. In an interview Ligotti described his style as an attempt to read like awkwardly translated East-European literature.
Κωνσταντίνος Κέλλης
Move over, Stephen.
I'm sorry Clive and H.P. It's not you, guys, it's me...
Actually, it's not me either. It's Thomas Ligotti.

Long story short, this collection blew me away. Horror short stories can't get better than this.
Jun 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People that don't want to sleep well
It is a style of writing that I cannot clearly identify. It feels alienated both from both reality and the characters. The stories read like Lovecraft, only with a more 'matter-of-fact' tone.

Apr 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
I didn't have time to read all the stories in this (library copy), but Ligotti truly is a master of transferring dreamlike atmosphere onto the printed page. Stories that stuck out for me as far as creepiness include "The Frolic," "The Christmas Eves of Aunt Elise," and "Glamour." He's been called the modern-day Poe or Lovecraft, and I can definitely see why. I just wish his books were easier to find!
Mark McLaughlin
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ligotti always offers creepy literary perfection, and this collection is no exception! Great stuff!
Molly Moore
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I honestly don't even know where to begin in writing a review of Nightmare Factory... and I'm absolutely certain I can't be objective. I accidentally discovered this book - and, by extension, Mr. Ligotti - during an early morning at work last week. Reading only the Washington Post's blurb at the bottom of the front cover ("The most startling and unexpected literary discovery since Clive Barker"), I set it aside and made up my mind to peruse it later. Little did I know then that I'd be ending my ...more
Dec 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is the greatest horror book that I have ever read.
Darran Mclaughlin
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Superb. I haven't read very much horror since going through a phase of reading everything Stephen King, Dean R. Koontz and James Herbert wrote as a kid. I dipped into it, reading Edgar Allan Poe, House of Leaves and Lost Souls by Poppy Z Brite, but I didn't really look into Horror to try and find the serious writing as I have with crime writing, science fiction and fantasy. Whilst you often hear the likes of Georges Simenon, WIlliam Gibson or China Mieville being praised as writers worthy of bei ...more
Feb 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Ligotti has, like his prose, slowly but without failure snuck up on me and resigned me to the basic truth that I'm probably never going to discover another writer who can make me feel such universal dread, but yet love it all. He's firmly made himself the main attraction of my reading schedule, and it's a shame that I'll have to re-read him to do that rather than expect new books, which he doesn't seem too intent on writing. Regardless, reading a story of his again always suggests something that ...more
Shall I Download A Black Hole And Offer It To You
Ligotti is just a freakin' genius-level writer of creepiness and weirdtasticalism... i do not recommend brewing up a big ol' pot of coffee and immersing yourself in this tome, as you may come out the other side all twisted and crumpled (and that just from the coffee!), or, and more likely, you will not come out at all... or at least who/what you went in as won't be what slinks out of the post-Ligotti darkness... i read this front-to-back because i am OCD and i don't know how to just stop a story ...more
Lady Lovecraft
Jan 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As a general rule I try to only write reviews for indy authors because regular authors will always have lots and lots of people leaving comments. I had to make an exception in this case (not the first time I've done so). I'm all about atmosphere. I want description to gently prod me to the edge, then, imagination full, I topple headfirst into the nightmare or fantasy, or whatever suits the genre. In the fashion of Lovecraft, who was a master of punishing readers with their own imagination (in a ...more
Aug 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Man, when I read this book I would literally get goosebumps sometimes, mostly from the first story "The Frolic." A really really unique writer, mega-creative. And anyone who can pull off a Current 93 collaboration is super cool.
Saxon Roach
Sep 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Not for everyone, I'd think and it took me a few goes to really get into the very odd, absent, prose but... When you do, this feels like real terror must feel... No screams, just wordless babbling and stunned silence... An atmosphere of profound evil permeates this book... this guy has SEEN things
Feb 17, 2010 rated it did not like it
Ligotti is much easier to take in smaller bites - me, I just choked on this. Appreciate that he is an important part of horror lit, I just don't have to like his work.
Sep 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
"Gas Station Carnivals" is probably the most frightening thing I've ever read.
Scott Waldie
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
A collection of other Ligotti short story anthologies ('Grimscribe', 'Songs of a Dead Dreamer', etc), The Nightmare Factory is a fairly comprehensive journey into Ligotti's eloquent, nihilistic horror, which exists for me somewhere between Poe's manic, obsessive characterizations and Lovecraft's inexplicable, cosmic unknowns. The prose here is absolutely top notch, with single, terrifyingly beautiful passages that I would find myself reading repeatedly to myself before being able to move on. Bot ...more
Greg Kerestan
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thomas Ligotti is an acquired taste- or maybe more of an inborn one. You either are capable of enjoying, or at least appreciating, what Ligotti puts down, or it's decidedly not for you. I'm not completely sure you can change your mind one way or another. But one thing it's easy to agree on with Ligotti is that he knows EXACTLY what he's doing.

For decades, most of Ligotti's output was out of print, nearly impossible to acquire in its entirety. This compilation collected the vast majority of his s
S.E. Ellis
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There is horror, and then there is Thomas Ligotti.

Stories with the logic of a dream and that slow dread of the nightmare, unable to awake, trying your best to look away--but trapped, you experience it to the depth of your being.
Alex Gates
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
A beautiful and haunting collection of atmospheric short stories. If you enjoy Lovecraftian fiction, you can’t pass on Thomas Ligotti.
Arthur Meursault
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a huge collection of pieces from Thomas Ligotti's previous collections of short stories: Songs of a Dead Dreamer, Grimscribe, Noctuary and Teatro Grottesco.

Songs of a Dead Dreamer provides the bulk of the stories - 18 Ligotti stories! As always with Ligotti, some are more obtuse than others. It is interesting to see Ligotti develop as a writer even within the Songs stories as his fiction evolves from the relatively simplistic horror stories of The Frolic and Les Fleurs to much more soph
Lizbeth Gabriel
Apr 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is the most refined, rampant brain sickness I've ever come across, and it was disguised as a book. Words can't describe the impact of these stories. If you are a fan of Lovecraft, you must read this author. Just keep in mind Ligotti's prose is even more nightmarish, vague and unsettling. It reminded me of an exhausted, fevered man, slowly drowning in quicksand made of leprous, rotting matter, struggling and screaming in vain. The landscape is desolate, swampy, forsaken. Every life born ther ...more
Jail Flanagain
Mar 05, 2009 rated it it was ok
Thomas Ligotti is a very talented but really frustrating writer. His concepts are way more developed than most horror writers. Also his writing is dense and difficult in a genre where most are content to write in a eazy to read schticky way, so in these ways he's refreshing. But more often than being refreshed, I was frustrated by his lack of followthrough. Much like Lovecraft, whom he clearly admires, his stories have strong beginnings and interesting ideas but when rarely any interesting endin ...more
Sep 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ligotti speaks to me in ways no other writer does. There's a beauty to the cold emptiness of his nihilistic horrors. Something comforting in their hopelessness. You can stop running once you realize there's nowhere to run to.
Not that all the stories are brilliant... certain imagery repeats itself... some bits skate too clumsily close to Lovecraft... and as other have mentioned, these bitter chocolates are best enjoyed singly and at intervals... don't go trying to swallow the whole box in one si
Ari Eris
Aug 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Without a doubt the best collection of weird fiction/horror stories out there. I've read this book a few times and it never fails to give me the willies or, more seriously, a creeping sense of fear mixed with horrified fascination. Every story is perfect, though you'll want to put the book down after each piece in order to make sense of just what it was that you just read. I can't recommend it enough. This edition may be out of print and a little pricey, but I assure you that it's completely wor ...more
Jonathan Oliver
Mar 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
When Ligotti is on form, he is something to behold - his prose style is dense but considered, his imagery genuinely creepy and often unique. It's not a collection I'd recommend reading all in one go, rather dip into it now and again. There are times that Ligotti's nihilism and misanthropy are so strong that they overshadow the tale, put across a certain petulance. But there's a reason that Ligotti is so well regarded and there are some absolute gems here. A unique and gifted writer.
Paul Vromen
Aug 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
To be honest I have not yet finished this in its entirety, but it is worth picking up for the first two stories alone. Ligotti's writing combined with the fantastic Coleen Doran on art duties result in a Lovecraftian tale that will make your spine chill, it's that good. Doran is a very versatile artist with a huge range, and she may become one of my favourites as far as horror comics go.
Jul 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Ligotti is like a painter who throws can after can of vibrant and exotic color at his canvas and sees what sticks. Sometimes the result lacks a bit of follow-through, but at least it is beautiful. His stories are all about atmosphere and impressionism, and if you don't mind the occasional lack of plot clarity, Ligotti's got a lot to offer.
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Thomas Ligotti is a contemporary American horror author and reclusive literary cult figure. His writings, while unique in style, have been noted as major continuations of several literary genres—most prominently Lovecraftian horror—and have overall been described as works of "philosophical horror", often written as philosophical novels with a "darker" undertone which is similar to gothic fiction. ...more
“This, then, is the ultimate, that is only, consolation: simply that someone shares some of your own feelings and has made of these a work of art which you have the insight, sensitivity, and — like it or not — peculiar set of experiences to appreciate. Amazing thing to say, the consolation of horror in art is that it actually intensifies our panic, loudens it on the sounding-board of our horror-hollowed hearts, turns terror up full blast, all the while reaching for that perfect and deafening amplitude at which we may dance to the bizarre music of our own misery.” 39 likes
“I know in a way I never knew before that there is nowhere for me to go, nothing for me to do, and no one for me to know. The voice in my head keeps reciting these old principles of mine. The voice is his voice, and the voice is also my voice. And there are other voices, voices I have never heard before, voices that seem to be either dead or dying in a great moonlit darkness. More than ever, some sort of new arrangement seems in order, some dramatic and unknown arrangement -- anything to find release from this heartbreaking sadness I suffer every minute of the day (and night), this killing sadness that feels as if it will never leave me no matter where I go or what I do or whom I may ever know.” 34 likes
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