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Occultation and Other Stories

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  2,611 ratings  ·  240 reviews
Winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, nine stories of cosmic horror from the heir apparent to Lovecraft’s throne.

Laird Barron has emerged as one of the strongest voices in modern horror and dark fantasy fiction, building on the eldritch tradition pioneered by writers such as H. P. Lovecraft, Peter Straub, and Thomas Ligotti. His stories have garnered critical acclaim and ha
Hardcover, 245 pages
Published July 1st 2010 by Night Shade (first published May 11th 2010)
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Bill Kerwin
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it

Laird Barron is not just a "horror writer," he is a “writer,” someone whose gifts extend beyond the customary limits of the genre. As a consequence, he must be held to a higher standard, and, when he is, I believe he falls a little short of the mark.

Although Barron’s style is filled with memorable images, the sonority and rhythms of his prose are severely limited--surprising for a poet!--and particularly impoverished in their musical effects. His characters, no matter how painstakingly fashione
Dan Schwent
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Occultation and Other Stories is a collection of nine short stories by Laird Barron.

My quest to devour all of Laird Barron's works by the end of 2017 continues with this book, Occulation. As befits a Shirley Jacks award winner, this is something to behold.

While I'm reading Barron's works in the order I come across them, for the most part, I'm beginning to recognize all the Barronoid themes: isolation, loss, and helplessness. Barron's Earth, all but overrun by the cosmic horrors that are the Chil
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Quite a few people in the horror community have been encouraging me to read Barron for a while now. He's greatly revered in the community, and that made me want to read his work even more. It's safe to say that Occultation is one of the best cosmic horror collections I've ever read. So I owe a big thank you to everyone who recommended his work. Now I need everything he's written.

Every story in this collection is amazing. As usual, some of them resonated with me more than others, but the collect
Jul 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book contains some of the best writing I have had the pleasure of partaking in for quite some time.

It amazes me as to Mr. Barron's ability to keep me off guard.A story can begin at point A, and with the lush and vibrant story telling take you to point B and before you are cognitive of the event occurring you have been deposited into somewhere really really strange with no possible means of re-orienting yourself. And the stories stick with you long after you have finished them.

The stories ar
Jun 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-shelf, horror
While I do think that all of these stories are quite good and tickly my cosmic horror funnybone (do you hear the insane laughter right behind you?) I think I might have reached my saturation point for:

A: Satanists
B: dark insectoid horrors
C: otherworldly visitations

To be entirely fair, all of these stories are quite excellent for these themes. Much better, on the hole, than most. In fact, I totally recommend this for those of you who want a little extra Lovecraftian horror in their lives and want
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
Laird Barron clearly knows how to unsettle his readers. If there was a universal theme of the various stories in this book, it would be that every single story was unsettling, albeit in different ways.

Mr. Barron evokes memories of reading Caitlín R. Kiernan, HP Lovecraft, Arthur Machen, and even Algernon Blackwood in his tales in this volume. He finds the fearsome in such diverse subjects as the entities from beyond, the power of guilt, the overwhelming and uncomprehensible enormity of the natur
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Barron is a writers' writer. Believe me. Writing is hard work, and one can clearly see the results of Barron's efforts. It's a mean trick to be able to write so beautifully, and yet so brutally. The universe of Occultation and Other Stories fits in a dark niche between Algernon Blackwood's "The Willows," Brian Evenson's Dark Property, and Hemingway. It's a rough and tumble corner on the interstitial edge between body horror and high literary tradition, with some elements of cosmic horror. Though ...more
More Laird Barron! I am currently on a short story roll, as I don’t want to start a new big juicy book right before leaving on vacation, so I make do with small juicy stories instead. And my, is Barron a juicy writer! Not in the buckets-of-blood-and-gore sense; his way is much more subtle, oozing and surreal.

The prose has a strange and almost hypnotic rhythm. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of which character is talking and where they are, but when it comes together, it paints a wonderfully cr
Nancy Oakes
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Nancy by: cosmic horror enthusiasts looking to go beyond Lovecraft and the usual fare
Shelves: weird, horror
If you want the longer version, it's here; otherwise, read on.

Laird Barron is probably the only recent author I've read who can put together a compilation of his stories and keep me totally involved, off balance and maximally creeped out through the entire book without any exceptions. He's also one of the few horror writers in my experience who writes his stories with prose to equal pretty much any literary author, and he does not rely on cheap thrills, hack-em/slash-em gratuitous gore or gross
Adam Nevill
Mar 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
I've never forgotten my first encounters with certain horror collections, at different times in my life, that resonated with me - Lovecraft, Machen, Blackwood, Barker, T.E.D Klein, Ramsey Campbell, M John Harrison, Ligotti, Robert Aickman, among others. But they were books that transported me and made me want to write. I've come to Laird Barron relatively late, but I'm adding him to my pantheon of greats (and I don't use that word lightly). Just finished his first two single author works - THE ...more
Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories, 2019, 2020
This was my first reading of Barron, and I probably should have started with his first collection, but the library only had this one. The standout stories for me were 'The Forest' and 'The Lagerstätte', both of which were award nominees, if that says anything—maybe, maybe not, depending on how much stock you put in such things. As other three-star reviewers have noted, many of the other stories just involve two or more characters passing the time as things get increasingly weirder and then somet ...more
Dec 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I don’t know what it is about Laird Barron’s work that I enjoy so much. Yes, the dude can write. Yes, his characterizations are really good in short formats and his monsters are crazy cool. He also uses a lot of big “old-timey” words and that would usually turn me off, but LB makes it work and gives his stories their own voice and flavor. Dark, brooding and bleak. I realize he may not be for everyone, but I have enjoyed everything that I have ever read by him. This guy is fuckin’ good, man. Real ...more
Ben Loory
Mar 31, 2013 rated it liked it
barron is a masterful writer with a distinctively flowing and hallucinatory style and i really loved this collection in the beginning. after a while, though, the hopelessness of the universe became not just overpowering but sort of silly. well, let's see how these poor schmucks get fucked over i started to say at the beginning of each story. which, okay, maybe i should've spaced them apart... but every single one was just "bad to worse." i need a little hope to feel the horror of hope's ruin.

11811 (Eleven)
Dec 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
No one writes like this guy does.
Benoit Lelièvre
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Laird Barron is unequivocally great. Pick whichever book of his and I'll be at least above average. OCCULTATION was, though, quite different from the literature Laird Barron got me used to.

I would say OCCULTATION is more conventionally Lovecraftian than his other work, but I wouldn't do it justice by saying that. The settings are more timeless and emphasize man's relationship with a Carnovorous nature. It doesn't only look up at the sky, but down into the bowels of the Earth, too. There are some
Phillip Smith
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
4 to 4.5 for me. There are some truly inspired and creepy stories here. Well-written, engaging horror. I kind of hit a wall with "Mysterium Tremendum" and it took a while to pick this book up again. Maybe that particular story will be better on a second read through.

Favorites include: Forest, Lagerstatte, 30, and six, six, six.
Pearce Hansen
Jun 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The first thing that struck me about Occultation was that, after having read it and the Imago Sequence – Laird’s debut anthology – for the first time, I immediately turned around and read them both all over again. That’s never happened to me before with any other book – not sure what it means, just taking note.

Laird is often spoken of in the same breath with Thomas Ligotti, but they could not be more different. While I am in awe of Ligotti’s work, his universe is one of futility – of clockwork h
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
At a first sight I'm not such a big fan of Laird Barron work, but when I finished this peculiar volume of his stories, I must conclude that he certanly delivers scares and offers shivers down your spine.

I don't like his style with a lot, lot, of info about his characters and their situations, but I must admit that he has some very original & new ideeas and his thrills are on another level that those from others writers.

Only two stories I didn't read, those in the end, but with the rest I was rea
Eddie Generous
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I tried to read this straight through. That didn't work. These are thick and heavy stories, with much to unpack, and for me became better if I tackled them one or two at a time and then visited something else. I liked all the stories, some more than others. --30-- and Six Six Six were my favorites. Fantastically written with a mega creep factor. ...more
Aug 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror, short-stories
Short stories aren't really my thing, and this collection was a mixed bag for me. What I did like, however, was Barron's overall style. He avoids trying to shock the reader every other minute and doesn't try to be in your face with monsters and gore. Some authors can pull these elements off, but they more often than not misfire.
Barron, on the other hand, provides atmospheric slow burns that are more in the style of Lovecraft in the fact that all of his stories take place in a cold, uncaring wor
Brian Johnson
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: weird-tale, horror
“At some point during the evening reality had reconstituted at the quantum level, had remade itself, was accelerating toward a final, apocalyptic transmogrification.”

This quotation from “Six Six Six,” the final story in Laird Barron’s harrowing Occultation and Other Stories, in many ways sums up what I love most about the author’s squig-inducing masterpiece of new weird Lovecraftiana.

“At some point…” But when? We are never quite sure when the bottom falls out of our commonplace sense of reality
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
Overall - 4 stars
Story - 3.5 stars
Narration - 5 stars

I liked only about half of the stories. The rest were mostly a long lead up to a so-what ending. I really liked a couple of the stories, though. Especially "Mysterium Tremendum!"

The narration was excellent!
Micah Hall
Oct 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Another Laird Barron collection down and this is up there with the best. I faltered somewhat with The Imago Sequence due to that collection being more on the incomprehensible side of things. This collection is where Barron is firing on all cylinders and its interesting seeing how he's grown as a writer.

There are several absolute gems to be found here, my favorite being Mysterium Tedium, and none that fail to capture you with eldritch horror or creeping dread. That may be my biggest complim
Merl Fluin
What can one say about this book that its adoring fans haven't said already? If you love beautiful writing (which I do), you'll enjoy and admire it (which I did). If you're also frightened by Lovecraftian cosmic horror (which I'm not), then you'll be terrified too (which I wasn't). ...more
May 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Laird Barron's artistic vision and the stylistic intersection he shoots for are, at least in part, things I really like, and he's often good enough to pull them off. It's an attractive combination. But while there are some good stories in here, they just have too much putting me off to really hang.

So here's my litany of complaints: All of Barron's stories are just a couple of people hanging out until the weird shoe drops and one of them gets sucked into the earth or abducted by leech people or
Joe Hart
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. This is the first time I've read Laird Barron though he's been on my radar for years. By and away the best collection of short stories I've encountered in recent memory. With a superior command of language and firm grip on what makes us afraid, the author pulls no punches and peels back the layers to reveal unnamed horrors that squirm in the dark. Highly, highly recommended. ...more
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror, short-stories
Wow, what a bleak, horrific universe that Barron presents in this collection. An array of veiled glimpses into the crawling chaos are collected here with these superbly well written stories.

There seems to be a strong if somewhat nebulous theme running through his work not too dissimilar from Lovecraft's in that there is a harsh, terrifying universe out there lying just beyond the bounds of our everyday perception but that occasionally people stray beyond that veil of ignorance and find out more
Orrin Grey
May 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
OK, I doubt if anyone following my reviews is a stranger to Laird Barron. The Imago Sequence and Other Stories established him as one of the most major new forces in weird horror, and Occultation is, in my opinion, the delivery of that book's promise. Not that Imago Sequence wasn't great--it was--this one's just that much better.

There's not a bad story to be found in Occultation, though there are ones I like more than others. I think my favorites are probably the title story, "Catch Hell," "Myst
Jun 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
4 stars overall--I really liked it. I'm especially fond of Barron's interconnected Washington state stories.

The Forest: 4 stars. Cosmic horror and insectoid hive minds.
Occultation: 3 stars. What happens when the real world shifts slightly.
The Lagerstatte: 3 stars. Ghosts and loss. A bit overlong, I thought.
Mysterium Tremendum: 5 stars. Occult happenings in mysterious Washington state. I love how this story ties in with Barron's mythology. Really spooky.
Catch Hell: 5 stars. More spooky Washington
Apr 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Interesting and thought provoking collection of short stories. This novel was a definite break from the normalcy of horror fiction. The cosmic, chaotic horror and alternate reality present in these stories signify a new addition into the various sub genres of horror. Exquisite details and descriptions are where this collection shines. However, I found the recurring theme and plot of black magic/occult to be a bit redundant after a while and I was left wishing Barron would comprise a story with s ...more
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Laird Barron, an expat Alaskan, is the author of several books, including The Imago Sequence and Other Stories; Swift to Chase; and Blood Standard. Currently, Barron lives in the Rondout Valley of New York State and is at work on tales about the evil that men do.

Photo credit belongs to Ardi Alspach

Agent: Janet Reid of New Leaf Literary & Media

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