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Monstrous Affections

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  220 ratings  ·  41 reviews
A young bride and her future mother-in-law risk everything to escape it. A repentant father summons help from a pot of tar to ensure it. A starving woman learns from howling winds and a whispering host, just how fulfilling it can finally be.

Can it be love?

The Sloan Men • (1994)
Janie and the Wind • (2002)
Night of the Tar Baby • (1999)
Other People's Kids
The Mayor Will Make a
Paperback, 300 pages
Published October 15th 2009 by ChiZine Publications (first published January 1st 2009)
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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 ·  220 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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Jul 30, 2010 rated it liked it
Oh, Canada, our literary neighbors to the North. If us Americans paid too much attention to you we might begin to feel a little embarrassed that we alone are not the sole creators of literary culture this side of the Europe (nevermind those Southerns who write in another language, we can shove them aside easy enough). It is a good thing we generally ignore your writers, we might start to feel some kind of envy. And then we might have to blow you up. That's what happens. Or just wreck your ...more
Caro the Helmet Lady
I had this book on my to-read list and on my laptop for way too long and finally I got myself to read it. Really mixed feelings about it, I liked some stories more than others, some of them being just simply brilliant. Others more gross than really scary to my tastes. But one thing is for sure - David Nickle knows how to freak you out. Slowly, gradually, step by step and then just - bam! And this is no light read, you must always switch on your brain to actually catch that moment when you notice ...more
Dec 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This isn't a book of horror stories. This is a book of dread, and sadness, and bitter regrets. Dried tears, just departed, and knowing that the same tears will be back the next day. It creeps on you, the language does. You don't notice it until it's already upon you.

That being said, The Sloan Men is in a different class than the rest of the stories. And Trombone Slide is so subtle it takes a throwaway line to move it all into focus.
Jessica Strider
Aug 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Pros: variety of stories, different lengths and wildly different subject matters, though provoking, unsettling

Cons: several stories require some thought to understand, with one being beyond my comprehension

This is a great collection of horror stories. There's variety in length and subject matter, with most having horrifying twist endings of some sort that make you rethink what you believed was happening in the story. Mr. Nickle brings in different mythologies, which was fun. And they all deal
Ursula Pflug
Sep 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
This review appeared in The New York Review of Science Fiction in June, 2011.
Monstrous Affections
by David Nickle
Chizine Publications, 2011
292 pp.
$18.95 TPB
ISBN: 978-0-9812978-3-5

Review by Ursula Pflug

David Nickle’s collection "Monstrous Affections" opens with a story about a bride’s first meeting with her mother-in-law. It turns out there’s something fearsomely strange about "The Sloan Men," except that part of their strangeness is an ability to wipe awareness of this troubling fact from their
Jan 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all literature and fantastic amators,
An excellent introduction to the weird and subtly scary collection of short-stories from Dave Nickle.

I hesitated a long time before buying the book (a little because of the cover), but when I discovered Claude Lalumière's stuff, and more Chizine novels, I told myself it was time I try some fantastic-horror.

So I plunged into Dave Nickle dark fantastic tales, and emerged a happy camper. I began each story with apprehension... and the darkness is never where you expect it to be. The first (and
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Monstrous Affections is a varied and well written collection of thought provoking horror, David imbues most of his stories with a creeping dread and melancholic sadness. Some of the stories will require time for me to figure out while others were rather upfront with their meaning – I liked this as it required me to actively engage with the book. I’d recommend this to fans of more literary horror.
Feb 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Nicely crafted, surprisingly dark short stories. After the first few, I actually dreaded reading the rest of them. Could be I was just in a strange mood, but they struck me as terribly sad and relentless.
Maggie Gordon
Oct 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: canadiana
This was a delightfully creepy set of short stories from a Canadian author! Ranging from full on dark fantasy to everyday horror, each piece is both literary and unnerving. There are no jump scares, just slow dread and discomfort. Great for Halloween :D
Geoff Gander
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Full Disclosure: Reviewer knows the author

I've never read any of David Nickle's collections before, but if this is a taste of his short fiction, I will read more. This is a compilation of his earlier works, some going as far back as the 1990s, so if you came to know his writing through such works as "Eutopia" or "Volk", you might not get what you're used to. I liked this collection overall, and while classified as horror I would consider many of the stories to be "dark fiction" (perhaps my
Mar 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
The first collection of stories from David Nickle mines the Canadian wilderness for some chills and intersperses them with tales of situations just a tick on the odd side of normal. Vampires trade artistic vision for blood, children are goaded into running rampant at a roadside amusement park by something bent on destruction, lessons in morality are taught with damnable consequences. While the stories are definitely of the "weird fiction" variety, they do not share in or mimic such established ...more
Apr 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
David Nickle’s on quite a tear lately, with recent novels Eutopia, Rasputin’s Bastards, and The ‘Geisters proving him a talent of vast range, depth, and awesomesauce. Yet Nickle could have stopped with this collection, his publishing debut, and I’d still be in thrall to his every whim. In Monstrous Affections (which may have the greatest book cover ever conceived), we discover the wisdom of talking fish, the heroism of witches, the persistence of flies, and the ugliness of love. Rich characters ...more
Danyelle Young
May 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I really wish I had been in a book club for this collection.
So many of the stories I'm gonna have to read again because I'm sure I missed things.
The stories weren't the type I would tell by a campfire, but they are really sad/creepy.
Just finished this too late at night, I know I wont be sleeping easy!

The swamp witch was definitely my favorite!
All the stories have their own style, so you're bound to prefer a few.
The feeling the cover gives me absolutely is a good measure of the uncomfortable
Dario Sciola
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Some of the stories were brilliant, others just left me confused. I had to put it down in the middle because i couldn't decide if i like the book or not, but after picking it up again i only needed 3 days to read the second half.
I will definitly read another book from this author. Maybe i wasn't in the mood for his stories on the first attemp.
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
A strong collection of weird fantasy/horror stories, marked with a vivid and lyrical prose style and evocative settings; a definite candidate for later rereading, as some of the tales are allusive and elusive on first read.
Oct 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror, short-stories
A mixed bag of short stories that range from creepy and evocative to generic and predictable. None of them really knocked me out. There was some shades of the best writing I've seen from Nickle though. Not nearly enough of it, but some.
Brian Gaston
Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
I think Nickle writes his best in short fiction and this is some of his best stuff.
MB Taylor
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
Just finished reading Monstrous Affections (2009) by David Nickle; a collection of 10 short stories originally published between 1994 and 2007 and 3 previously unpublished stories. I saw this book while browsing the new science fiction and fantasy shelf at the local Barnes and Noble. The cover (called jarring) caught my attention and I bought it. I wouldn’t call this science fiction or fantasy, it’s horror; which is OK with me. I like horror well enough, and frankly, based on the cover it’s what ...more
Nov 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2016, horror
A collection of short stories by one of my favorite horror authors. There are some appearances by standard horror monsters in here (vampires, ghosts, wendigo, serial killers, and a quite interesting role for the Cyclops out of Greek mythology), but this collection is mostly characterized by the unusually literary-fiction quality of the writing, where the horror or its explanation is not always self-evident and can take some reflection. Which is not to say that they're not scary! Nickle does an ...more
Ryan Nims
Jul 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of the stories, some were better than others, but overall, this is a good collection!

Nickle is fast becoming one of my favorite authors; if there's one thing he does better than anyone, it's the ability to instill a deep sense of dread from the first word, and let it simmer until the last word.

Stand-out stories for me were:

"Night of the Tar Baby" - Seriously creepy cautionary tale about keeping one's anger in check.
"The Pit-Heads" - This one's a little obscure... An interesting take on the
Matt Moore
Feb 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book should be used to teach how to write dark short fiction. None of these stories relies on blood & gore to tie your stomach into knots. It is about normal people thrown into horrible situations, battling horrors both within and without.

Nickle doesn't need to rely on break-neck pacing or over the top horror to pull you into the lives of these all-too-real characters and force you to confront what all good horror stories should do: Force yourself to consider what would you have done
Aug 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of short stories was marketed as "horror" (dark, stark, and creepy) but the stories were wider in scope than just that genre and therefore made the entire collection more enjoyable. The Pit-Heads was a pleasant short journey into painting and (view spoiler). The Swamp Witch and the Tea-Drinking Man felt like it was down in Louisiana. My least favorite was the end of Polyphemus' Cave.
Wahiaronkwas David
Jan 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
What a wild ride. From the unexpected end of Sloan Men, the freaky horror of Tar Baby, the fun and fear of Swamp Witch and the Tea-Drinking Man (Swamp Witch is my favorite character) all the way to an unlikely love interest in Polyphemus' Cave. It's hard to pick a favorite tale of the whole bunch. I recommend this for anybody who likes to be surprised by a tale, rather than trod along familiar paths.
RJ Lackie
Nov 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Some fantastic stories, some baffling, all imaginative. The front half of the book is superb - particularly ones like "The Tar Baby" and "The Sloan Men", both of which stayed with me long after I read them. "Slide Trombone" onwards, the stories became less magnificent and more confusing. Still, earned a 4/5 for the handful of 5/5 stories in here and the generally strong baseline.
Michael Seidlinger
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
A collection with a decent few tales, "The Webley" and "The Mayor Makes a Brief Statement and Then Take Questions," pockmarked with the usual horror/Southern/Canadian Horror genre short story conventions.

Yeah, yeah, I admit it bought this for the cover. As you can tell by the rating, I got what I deserve.

Don't succumb to impulse buys. Lesson learned.
May 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2013
I admit, I got sucked in by the creepy cover. Something about that face just gives me the willies! At any rate, I enjoyed some of the stories and some just didn't come together for me. One or two seemed to not be stories at all but several paragraphs with no discernable beginning or end.
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book suffered from some of the things that always irritate me about short stories...sudden jerking twists at the end being the biggest. That said, the concepts presented were new and unique. The writing was spectacular.
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If a university offers a course in Canadian horror, "The Sloan Men," "The Pit Heads," "Polyphemus' Cave," and "Night of the Tar Baby" should all be on the reading list. In fact the whole collection should be required reading.
Mar 31, 2012 rated it it was ok
I liked some stories better than others.. but I guess that's typical with most books of short stories. Some of them I just didn't GET and some I just thought were really out there (not that there is anything wrong with that). Not bad, but not amazing either.
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David Nickle is the author of several novels and numerous short stories. His latest novel is VOLK: A Novel of Radiant Abomination. His novel Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism (to which VOLK is a sequel) was a finalist for the Aurora Award, the Sunburst Award and the Compton Crook Award. His story collection Monstrous Affections won the 2009 Black Quill Reader's Choice Award. He's a past winner ...more