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Gothic!: Ten Original Dark Tales

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"Get ready to sleep with the lights on!" — GIRLS' LIFE A lovesick count and the ghost of his brutalized servant . . . a serial killer who defies death . . . a house with a violent mind of its own and another that holds a grotesque secret within its peeling walls. Here are witches who feast on faces, changeling rites of passage, a venerable vampire contemplating his end, and "Get ready to sleep with the lights on!" — GIRLS' LIFE A lovesick count and the ghost of his brutalized servant . . . a serial killer who defies death . . . a house with a violent mind of its own and another that holds a grotesque secret within its peeling walls. Here are witches who feast on faces, changeling rites of passage, a venerable vampire contemplating his end, and a fanged brat who drains the patience of a bumbling teenage boy. Here too are a flamboyant young novelist in search of a subject more compelling than his own eerie existence and the daughter of a sorcerer fighting to free her lover — and her will — from sinister bonds. Enter the world of GOTHIC!, a celebration of the literary form made famous by such writers as Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe. With chilling stories by: Joan Aiken M. T. Anderson Neil Gaiman Caitlín R. Kiernan Gregory Maguire Garth Nix Celia Rees Janni Lee Simner Vivian Vande Velde Barry Yourgrau

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"Get ready to sleep with the lights on!" — GIRLS' LIFE A lovesick count and the ghost of his brutalized servant . . . a serial killer who defies death . . . a house with a violent mind of its own and another that holds a grotesque secret within its peeling walls. Here are witches who feast on faces, changeling rites of passage, a venerable vampire contemplating his end, and "Get ready to sleep with the lights on!" — GIRLS' LIFE A lovesick count and the ghost of his brutalized servant . . . a serial killer who defies death . . . a house with a violent mind of its own and another that holds a grotesque secret within its peeling walls. Here are witches who feast on faces, changeling rites of passage, a venerable vampire contemplating his end, and a fanged brat who drains the patience of a bumbling teenage boy. Here too are a flamboyant young novelist in search of a subject more compelling than his own eerie existence and the daughter of a sorcerer fighting to free her lover — and her will — from sinister bonds. Enter the world of GOTHIC!, a celebration of the literary form made famous by such writers as Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe. With chilling stories by: Joan Aiken M. T. Anderson Neil Gaiman Caitlín R. Kiernan Gregory Maguire Garth Nix Celia Rees Janni Lee Simner Vivian Vande Velde Barry Yourgrau

30 review for Gothic!: Ten Original Dark Tales

  1. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    A collection of creepy stories. I enjoyed the whole collection, but several stories stood out for me. “Morgan Roehmar’s Boys” by Vivian Vande Velde was genuinely scary. “Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire” by Neil Gaiman has a story-within-a-story thing going on and the ending made me laugh out loud. “Stone Tower” by Janni Lee Simner was such an interesting take on Rapunzel. My favorite from the collection. “Writing on the Wall” by Celia Re A collection of creepy stories. I enjoyed the whole collection, but several stories stood out for me. “Morgan Roehmar’s Boys” by Vivian Vande Velde was genuinely scary. “Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire” by Neil Gaiman has a story-within-a-story thing going on and the ending made me laugh out loud. “Stone Tower” by Janni Lee Simner was such an interesting take on Rapunzel. My favorite from the collection. “Writing on the Wall” by Celia Rees was another pretty scary one, with the added bonus of some excellent girl power. “Endings” by Garth Nix worked on multiple levels, both on its own and as the final tale in the collection. I loved the way it played with reader assumptions.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    This was, like most anthologies, a mixed bag. It's called 'Gothic', but most of the stories here really aren't, the exceptions being Watch and Wake, Neil Gaiman's story, and The Dead and the Moonstruck. Most of these stories were simply horror, and incessantly bland horror at that. The anthology mostly consisted of a large onslaught of mediocre stories, and only one of them was even a little scary. But, nevertheless, here's a story by story review: Lungewater by Joan Aiken: 2/5 This story consiste This was, like most anthologies, a mixed bag. It's called 'Gothic', but most of the stories here really aren't, the exceptions being Watch and Wake, Neil Gaiman's story, and The Dead and the Moonstruck. Most of these stories were simply horror, and incessantly bland horror at that. The anthology mostly consisted of a large onslaught of mediocre stories, and only one of them was even a little scary. But, nevertheless, here's a story by story review: Lungewater by Joan Aiken: 2/5 This story consisted almost entirely of a very dry story, told to the narrator by an old man. The story he tells isn't particularly interesting, and the format is set up so that we don't see enough of anyone - not the narrator, not the old man, not the characters in the story - to relate to anyone. This would've been fine if the story was only a few pages long, but at almost 30 pages, it wore thin quickly. Because the story took place in the long past, none of the danger feels urgent or immediate - it's all in the long past. The premise itself never had much potential, really; the story that the old man tells our narrator is pretty cliched, and even if we had seen it more closely, I doubt it would've been very scary. But Aiken's execution is made perfectly so that nothing that could've made the story interesting is present - the danger isn't immediate, the storytelling aspect isn't interesting, and we can't connect to any of the characters. Apart from the not-bad prose and dialogue, there's not much to like here. Morgan Roehmar's Boys by Vivian Vande Velde: 2/5 This story leans so heavily on horror cliches that I'm surprised it doesn't violate any copyrights. There's nothing that won't be familiar to even a casual horror reader; the story takes place in a haunted house, it involves the power going out, (view spoiler)[the person that appears to be helpful to the narrator turns out to be a ghost (hide spoiler)] , ect. Our narrator was the typical horror protagonist, trying to be resourceful, but still ends up falling victim to the enemy. Not even the writing was very good - it wasn't awful, but it was awkward enough to be noticeable. The only thing I can really say about it is that the cliches are downplayed, so that the story isn't quite as predictable as you'd expect. I did recognize the cliches, but not until the twist had already played itself out - I'll give Velde props for that. But other than that, there's nothing of note here. Watch and Wake by M.T. Anderson: 3/5 I really wanted to like this one. Since reading this story, I read Anderson's book Feed, and it is amazing. And there are plenty of hints of Anderson's immense talent on display here. The world here was bizarre, the perfect setting for a gothic story. After so many stories that simply pull on horror cliches for their worldbuilding, it was a relief to see something this downright strange. (I'm being vague, to avoid spoiling it for you.) Not to mention, it's built entirely without infodumps, quite a feat in a short story. The story itself was successfully suspenseful, and while the ending was slightly anticlimatic, it's one of the most memorable here. So why the three-star rating? Because it appears to have been written by a fifth grader. Apparently, Anderson's style was intentional, modeled after The Stranger. But if you haven't read The Stranger, as I haven't, prepare for a baffling experience. Sentence fragments and repetition are the norm, with hardly a compound or a complex sentence to liven things up. I never knew quite what Anderson was trying to communicate with this style - the story gained nothing that I could see from it. It's such a shame that it was so distracting, because the story would've been easily the best one here without that style. Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire by Neil Gaiman: 3/5 Neil Gaiman was the entire reason I read this anthology. This is the first short story of his I read, although I’ve also read Creatures of the Night, which had comics based on two of his short stories. From what I can tell, this was one of his weaker short stories. The premise is kind of gimmicky: the main character lives in a fantasy world, and he keeps writing what appears to us as dramatic fantasy scenes, but what appears to him as writing that’s so close to real life that it’s boring. Gaiman doesn’t really do anything with the premise; once you get the joke, there’s not much else to the story, plot-wise. Gaiman doesn’t go very much into his protagonist’s psyche, and very little actually happens. The thing that saved this story, however, was the excellent prose. This is Neil Gaiman we’re talking about, so I’m not exactly surprised that the writing was so good. But this is some of the best I’ve seen from him - the prose was atmospheric, it flowed well, and it perfectly captured the world that Gaiman writes about here. It also greatly added to the structure of the story. The story infuses the protagonist’s writings with the events that happen in his daily life. Gaiman writes differently when he’s showing our protagonist’s work, and it added layers to the story, particularly towards the end. This is one of the better stories here, simply because it’s so well-written - indeed, it contains the best prose of the book. But I know Gaiman could’ve written a better story to back it up, and it’s a shame he fell short. The Dead and the Moonstruck by Caitlin R. Kiernan: 4/5 This was one of only two stories here that I actually kind of liked, although admittedly, it was more for lack of problems than any particularly outstanding qualities. Still, the worldbuilding was pretty good. The world that Kiernan builds here is done entirely without infodumps, and it’s a pretty interesting world at that. I’m normally kind of forgiving of infodumps when a world has to be built this quickly, so it’s quite impressive that Kiernan managed to build her world so quickly. Her protagonist was also pretty engaging. Even though Kiernan had so little time to build up her life and backstory, we still got a fairly complete idea of what she’s like as a person. The plot was where this story fell a bit short. Sure, the buildup was pretty engaging, but there was ultimately very little payoff. The end of the story was very anticlimatic, with a villain that was far easier to defeat than Kiernan had made him out to be. It was the most predictable and least interesting Kiernan could’ve chosen to cap off her potentially-thrilling buildup. Still, this was one of the best stories here, one of the few that wasn’t boring, and one of the few that was pretty well-written. Have No Fear, Crumpot is Here by Barry Yourgrou: 1/5 Calling this one of the worst short stories I’ve ever read feels too generous. This was an amateurish mess. It tries to use humor to its advantage, but the gags were stupid to begin with, and they don’t get any funnier as Yourgrou repeats them over and over. There are only two or three actual jokes here, but they’re repeated at least two or three times per page, to the point where it gets completely unbearable. Our protagonist’s voice is entirely unbelievable. He’s supposed to be thirteen or fourteen, if I recall, but he read more like a third grader trying to imitate what a cool teenager would sound like. The voice uses ridiculous slang, it’s painfully childish, and it doesn’t capture anything about him. I can only assume that Yourgrou has never written for teenagers before, because this is horrendous. The story, which I’ve already forgotten - I think it had something to do with babysitting and bats - gets lost in all the bad humor and repetitive gags. It wasn’t the least bit scary or evocative. This was just a waste of paper, and I can’t imagine anyone gained anything from this stupid mess. Stone Tower by Janni Lee Simmer: 5/5 The one saving grace of this otherwise mediocre anthology. In fact, I wouldn't blame you for buying the entire anthology just for this one short story. This story's premise is largely unexplained to the end, which could've been confusing, if everything wasn't so intentional. Simmer knows how to give us just enough information to understand what's going on, but withholding absolutely everything else, so we're compelled until the ending. The plot is driven forward with an intensity unmatched by anything else here. Simmer writes every word here with a purpose, every word building up to the climatic ending. But whereas The Dead and the Moonstruck's ending fell flat from its buildup, the twist at the end of this story was entirely warranted by the buildup. But most engaging of all is the strong narrative voice that Simmer gives to our protagonist. She perfectly captures the mentality of someone who's lost their memory, and uses it to great effect in building the suspense of the story. In short, this was easily the best short story here. Simmer has impressed me in the past, by writing one of the few stories from Welcome to Bordertown that wasn't awful, so I'm thinking I should check out more of her work. It looks like she might be an outstanding writer. The Prank by Gregory Maguire: 3/5 I can't say this was as bad as I expected. I tried reading Wicked years ago, probably when I was too young. I don't really remember much about it, but I do recall it being incredibly boring. I'm not sure what I expected from this, but a fairly readable and normal YA story wasn't it. In fact, this story is fairly unmemorable. I might've thought back on it more fondly if I had understood the twist at the end. But because I couldn't follow the ending, I wasn't sure what to think of this. Certainly, Maguire writes an interesting and unique protagonist with a strong narrative voice. But I guess I just wasn't sure what the plot was supposed to be, what it was I was supposed to be scared by. Maguire didn't write a clear story. Plus, the writing could be awkward in places - in particular, the transitions tended to be very sudden, cutting off scenes before they felt finished. I expected to have strong feelings on Gregory Maguire one way or another; I'm surprised how indifferent I am to this story. Writing on the Wall by Celia Rees: 2/5 There's honestly not much to say about this one. It's centered entirely on cliches, more than any other story here. (And considering this is a horror anthology, that's saying a lot). When you find yourself literally writing about an old abandoned house that's haunted in vague ways, you might want to reconsider what you're doing. And there's little to focus on other than that. There's no real protagonist here whose development I can evaluate, and there's just... not much going on here. The writing is fine, I guess. But there's very little to say about such an unememorably cliched story. Endings by Garth Nix: 1/5 I've read a couple short stories from Garth Nix, in Geektastic and Zombies vs. Unicorns. I didn't like either of those stories, but at least he was trying. I've never seen anything this downright lazy out of him. It's only three pages long, and it's all vague, virtually meaningless existential shit. It feels like Nix wrote it in five minutes and sent it off without reading it over afterward. I didn't get any idea of the person narrating the story, or why he/she was saying these seemingly-random existential things. I didn't even know the protagonist was a vampire until I looked it up on Wikipedia. There's no deeper meaning here; Nix is just too lazy to write an actual story with actual characters. This is easily the worst short story here - other than Primate the Prom by Libba Bray, this might just be the worst short story I've ever read. I haven't read any novels by Nix, but from his short stories, I can only assume he's an overrated hack. Like most anthologies, this is a mixed bag, weighing somewhat towards the negative. Unless you happen to like the authors in the anthology, there's no reason to read it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Really great collection of horror tales. Not terrifying - more like creepy. Some twists on the classic tropes. Perfect for a short story collection. I’ll look into some of the authors for further reading.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    this is a collection of 10 'gothic' tales. I only found one of them to be scary, and that was the third one. Again, predictable, but OMG, that didn't make it any less CREEEEEPYYYYYYY!!!!!!! But, everyone's scared of different things. There are some stories about ghosts, a silly story about a vampire child, some more vampires, werewolves, etc. Some of the stories, while not scary, were still really good and interesting, and SHOCK not predictable!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brandon O'Neill

    Like any short story collection, you get a mixed bag here - some are scarier or darker than others, but there were some authors in here that I had never read before and wanted to try them out. An over all good collection for Halloween time. The Dead and the Moonstruck was my favorite in this collection.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Violet

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It's very hard to write a story in 20 pages or less. And I have to say that most, in my opinion didn't do so well. And I have to say that most stories weren't even scary or "dark" as was stated in the Intro and summary. 1)"Lungewater" by: Joan Aiken- It was...okay. Unlike some stories, the pacing was fairly good. The story was interesting, but again, not dark. It was the classic ghost story, but it wasn't cliché, which is always a good thing. 2)"Morgan Roehmar's Boys" by: Vivian Vande Velde- This st It's very hard to write a story in 20 pages or less. And I have to say that most, in my opinion didn't do so well. And I have to say that most stories weren't even scary or "dark" as was stated in the Intro and summary. 1)"Lungewater" by: Joan Aiken- It was...okay. Unlike some stories, the pacing was fairly good. The story was interesting, but again, not dark. It was the classic ghost story, but it wasn't cliché, which is always a good thing. 2)"Morgan Roehmar's Boys" by: Vivian Vande Velde- This story was one of the creepy and/or scary ones. It's mostly because the ending was so unexpected and that Morgan Roehmar was so freaken evil. It also didn't have flow problems. I was very happy with this story. Plus the first line is really cool: "Ashley rearranged the dead bodies, because there's nothing worse than a messy dead body." 3) "Watch and Wake" by: M. T. Anderson- This was the only other story that was creepy and/or scary. It think it was because the whole idea of your face being ripped off, just creeps/grosses anyone out. Okay, two English class referances here: One being the whole magical realism setting here, and from what I read in the 'about the authors' part at the end of the book, it's kind of the same setting as another of his books Thirsty. So now I'm interesting in reading that book. And the other referance is the fact that this story was written in the same style as in The Stranger. What with that same short choppy sentences,all the physical descriptions with no emotion descripitions, and everything written like a list. It fit the story though, so I like it. This story also had a nice flow. So I really like this one. 4) "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire" by: Neil Gaiman Long title right? Well the title really doesn't have much to do with the story. As always with Neil Gaiman, the story is very well written. It's not that creep/scary, but it is a really COOL concept, so of course I liked it. The flow wasn't the best, but it was better than some. 5) "The Dead and the Moonstruck" by: Caitlin R. Kiernan- That was....okay. Kind of forgetable. There were no flow problems...but it didn't really leave an impression on me. 6) "Have No Fear. Crumpot is Here!" by: Barry Yourgrau- It was fun. A cute little story. But it there was a bit of flow problems. But it was overal a good story. 7) "Stone Tower" by: Janni Lee Simner- It was a good start. It hooked me, that's for sure. But as it went on the flow got worse and worse, and it ended up kind of confusing. Oh, well. They can't be all good. 8) "The Prank" by: Gregory Maguire- I really liked the writing. The voice of the girl is just plain cool, despite the what she did to this girl with a lead pipe. She a rebel, and the writing really displays that. Sad that the flow at the end wasn't that good.... 9) "Writing on the Wall" by: Celia Rees- It was okay. Not really my favorite though. Again the flow at the end was off. 10) "Endings" by: Garth Nix- It was the shortest of all the stories. Seriously it was like only three pages long. And the good thing is that there was no flow problems. It was short and sweet and to the point, with a lot of deeper meaning. I liked it. I only basically read this because it had a story by Neil Gaiman in it. (What can I say? I like Neil Gaiman.) So, I really wasn't exepecting much. There were some good stories, but most were just okay (sadly). Only two were creepy/scary and only like four I really liked. *sigh* Better luck next time....

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    These stories are neither gothic nor particularly good. Many of these tales are, frankly, cute. Not once did I feel scared. Not once did I feel wrapped up in a gothic atmosphere. Gothic can mean many things, but not once did I feel like I was reading a Tim Burton movie or reading a Bram Stoker book or listening to a Bauhaus song or anything. By and large, these stories are tame, sometimes confusing, and never particularly dark or spooky. Never once was I scared. M.T. Anderson's "Watch and Wake," These stories are neither gothic nor particularly good. Many of these tales are, frankly, cute. Not once did I feel scared. Not once did I feel wrapped up in a gothic atmosphere. Gothic can mean many things, but not once did I feel like I was reading a Tim Burton movie or reading a Bram Stoker book or listening to a Bauhaus song or anything. By and large, these stories are tame, sometimes confusing, and never particularly dark or spooky. Never once was I scared. M.T. Anderson's "Watch and Wake," Caitlin R. Kiernan's "The Dead and the Moonstruck," and Neil Gaiman's satirical "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire" are the only stories here that feel particularly gothic. It's fitting, then, that they're sort of the standouts. But Kiernan's tale can also be found in her collection "To Charles Forte, With Love," and Gaiman's tale can also be found in his collection "Fragile Things"--both of which are more consistent and far more worth reading. Not recommended.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    This anthology of short modern gothic tales is an older litgeek's version of that "Scary Stories" trilogy that was published in the 1980s by Alvin Schwartz. (The illustrations in those books were creepier than the stories) Most of the stories are well worth reading in the dark by yourself. They don't hold a candle to the heebie-jeebies that horror stories evoke, the kind that make you uncomfortable in your own skin and lead you to jump at shadows, but the gothic genre is a kissing-cousin and make This anthology of short modern gothic tales is an older litgeek's version of that "Scary Stories" trilogy that was published in the 1980s by Alvin Schwartz. (The illustrations in those books were creepier than the stories) Most of the stories are well worth reading in the dark by yourself. They don't hold a candle to the heebie-jeebies that horror stories evoke, the kind that make you uncomfortable in your own skin and lead you to jump at shadows, but the gothic genre is a kissing-cousin and makes a noble effort. I finished the story "Morgan Rodhmar's Boys" while smoking out on a cold porch at 1 in the morning, then came back inside and huddled under the covers for a bit--but not because I was all that cold or tired. The story's ending evoked ancient childhood fears of the Vampire in the closet and made me feel like I had to protect my neck. Silly, yes? But that's what proper gothic tales do. They make you fear the unknown that you know doesn't really exist. Not all the stories are mystically magical and mind-blowing, hence the three stars.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Max Beuvelet

    It was very hard to write about this book because there was not one main character, but because of the different story lines, it made the book fun to read because its always different

  10. 4 out of 5

    Orrin Grey

    Another re-read. I've read a lot of anthologies of horror/dark fiction over the years, and, as weird as it sounds to say, Gothic! may be my favorite. I don't love every story, but most of them are creepy and solid and fun, which is everything I ask for from a story. Plus, this is the first place I ever read anything by M. T. Anderson, and his story in here remains a favorite of mine.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Leo Van gerwen

    A lovesick count and the ghost of his brutalized servant . . . a serial killer who defies death . . . a house with a violent mind of its own and another that holds a grotesque secret within its peeling walls. Here are witches who feast on faces, changeling rites of passage, a venerable vampire contemplating his end, and a fanged brat who drains the patience of a bumbling teenage boy. Here too are a flamboyant young novelist in search of a subject more compelling than his own eerie existence and A lovesick count and the ghost of his brutalized servant . . . a serial killer who defies death . . . a house with a violent mind of its own and another that holds a grotesque secret within its peeling walls. Here are witches who feast on faces, changeling rites of passage, a venerable vampire contemplating his end, and a fanged brat who drains the patience of a bumbling teenage boy. Here too are a flamboyant young novelist in search of a subject more compelling than his own eerie existence and the daughter of a sorcerer fighting to free her lover — and her will — from sinister bonds.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Heather Ingemar

    A fun anthology of spooky & dark fiction. A great read for October!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Abby

    Different perspectives of gothic. If you like gothic, then you should find at least a couple good stories in this book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jean-Paul

    Gothic! Ten Original Dark Tales I don't remember how long ago I bought this book. I picked it up because a friend had a short story published in it, and also because there was a Neil Gaiman piece, and I'm a sucker for his work. The other names on the over did not ring any bells for me. Since this is a collection it's only fair if I give a mini-review of each story, and I might as well do it in the order that they appear in this book. 1) Lungewater by Joan Aiken I believe I read in the artist bio par Gothic! Ten Original Dark Tales I don't remember how long ago I bought this book. I picked it up because a friend had a short story published in it, and also because there was a Neil Gaiman piece, and I'm a sucker for his work. The other names on the over did not ring any bells for me. Since this is a collection it's only fair if I give a mini-review of each story, and I might as well do it in the order that they appear in this book. 1) Lungewater by Joan Aiken I believe I read in the artist bio part of this book that this author was dead, and as I have no wish to speak ill of the dead I'll keep my comments on this story short. I think it was probably a mistake to put this first in this collection. It is not the strongest by far, and really I think the effect it most engenders in the mind of the reader is one of confusion. The story meanders and halts and doesn't seem to have a definite conclusion. It's hard to tell if it's a parable or a ghost story or the ramblings of a bored person. I don't recommend seeking this one out. 2) Morgan Roehmar's Boys by Vivivan Vande Velde I certainly hope that name is a nom de plume. If not than this writers alliterative parents have much to answer for. It's been awhile since I read this book and this story title isn't bringing anything to my memory. Ah! OK, a glance at the first page brings the whole piece back to me. It's a fairly innocuous haunting story with elements of historic crime fiction and a nice framing device of having the horror occur on the set of a haunted straw ride. As an individual who has worked in the haunt industry for over 10 years I appreciated some of the details the author included about the boredom of resetting and waiting in between scares. A better story than the first in this collection, but since I didn't have any memory of it based on it's title it obviously didn't leave too much of an impression on me. 3) Watch and Wake Retold from a story by Lucious Apuleius by M. T. Anderson OK now this story I liked a lot. In fact, I believe the bio section said that this author has another series of tales set in the same peculiar universe that this story was set and I am making a note right now to keep an eye out for it. This story hits just the right note of dark fantasy that I was hoping to find in this book. The world of the story is similar to ours but certain details are a few degrees of strangeness that really adds a good flavor to everything that takes place. Some of the details might seem confusing on first read through, but the tale as a whole is very interesting, and as I said it makes me want to read more by this author which should be the goal of all short stories. 4) Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves In the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire by Neil Gaiman. Neil knows the rules of dark fantasy, he's done enough of them. And when you know the tropes and you know the ropes you get to play with the conventions a bit. And in this story he goes hog wild. I found myself laughing a few times at the absurdity of the Gothic fantasy turned back on itself. Well worth the price of admission, this story made me glad I'd picked up the book and given it a read, even if it took me 6 years to get around to it. 5) The Dead and the Moonstruck by Caitlin R Kiernan. And here we have the other reason I picked this book up. I met Caitlin at my first Dragon Con in 2000 and I'm glad to say that we've remained in contact via various social sites ever since and that I had the opportunity to see her at many other conventions and hear readings of various stories, including I believe this one. I'm nearly positive this story has appeared in a few other collections which I own, possibly "From Weird and Distant Shores." I can verify that, just a moment... or not, I really need to organize my bookshelves... or I could just google it. This story also appears in "To Charles Fort, with Love" (which I own) and in "Two Worlds and In Between: The Best of Caitlin R Kiernan" which I do not own. So, if you can't find a copy of this collection and do want a really good dark fantasy story you'd do well to pick up either of those. As to the story itself the main character of this story, Starling Jane, shows up a number of times in Caitlin's other books and I believe this is her first ever appearance so, yeah definitely check it out. 6) Have no Fear. Crumpot is here! by Barry Yourgrau. This story I had not really forgotten. This story I had tried to scrub from my brain because it was just so... execrable and pedantic. It takes that old Walter Mitty device of having an ordinary character who has a rich dream life... I think the main character of this story is even named Walter, or "Wally." Anyway, it's not handled very well since "Wally's" imagination is even more pathetic than he is and the whole mess careens right past farce before wrecking in the land of best forgotten tales. We're done here. 7) Stone Tower by Janni Lee Simner This story was actually kind of poetic and sweet. It's sort of a bildungs roman tale crossed with an enchanted princess at the mercy of an evil enchanter, but told from a slightly off center perspective so the tropes are not immediately recognizable. I actually don't want to say too much about this story because it's worth letting it reveal itself. This one was very refreshing after the preceding one. 8) The Prank by Gregory Maguire. This is a weird one and I didn't exactly like it, but I didn't exactly hate it either. You know that feeling? I wasn't indifferent about it, while I was reading I felt like the author was building up to something trying to make a lesson, but when I finished I wasn't really sure what that was. This story is best described as a look at one of the dark secrets in a family life. We all have skeletons in our closets and I guess it's appropriate if some of those skeletons are literal... and maybe not completely dead. 9) Writing on the Wall by Celia Rees By this point I was kind of wanting to be done with the book. This story isn't bad, but it doesn't particularly stand out or have very much that recommends it. It's a haunted house story and a possession story and at the end there's a death, these things happen. The story is told competently, I was just feeling kind of hollow by the time I got to it. But I guess that's kind of the point of reading dark depressing stories? To build a resonance with the darkness within... eh. Maybe I would have liked it more if I had read it when I first got the book and was a bit younger and less world weary. 10) Endings by Garth Nix. I'm sure this was put at the end due to it's title. It's a mercifully short 4 page story told in a sort of eloquent poetic script. The speaker is some dark great evil waiting to give an end to those who would confront it, but in reality waiting for it's own end. And in that respect, it has a bit in common with this collection. So yeah, all in all a mixed bag. Three stories I really liked, one of which I had already read. Four others which were OK, but didn't leave a lasting impression on me. Two which I legitimately did not like, and a long form poem to finish it all off. You could do worse.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Katharine

    I don't read books of short stories... usually. I'd make myself read them all in series and then give up, because reading the ones I don't like ruins the concept of the whole collection. So this time I didn't read the ones that bored me or irritated me, and actually enjoyed reading. Silly me! I liked Neil Gaiman's story (creepy and delightfully humorous), and Garth Nix's (thoughtful and brooding and elegant) -though since I already like these two authors this probably isn't surprising- M. T. Ander I don't read books of short stories... usually. I'd make myself read them all in series and then give up, because reading the ones I don't like ruins the concept of the whole collection. So this time I didn't read the ones that bored me or irritated me, and actually enjoyed reading. Silly me! I liked Neil Gaiman's story (creepy and delightfully humorous), and Garth Nix's (thoughtful and brooding and elegant) -though since I already like these two authors this probably isn't surprising- M. T. Anderson (never read this author before) had a story I could praise for the fact that it is quite 'catch you by surprise' frightening- and Vivian Vande Velde's story was pretty good. That's four out of ten...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Edwina Callan

    These stories were more cute than creepy but nevertheless I enjoyed this fun and fast read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Werner

    Some of the stories were great! Others, eh.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Actual rating: 3,5.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Juushika

    The history of a haunted stream, a wake for a witch-haunted corpse, a coming of age ritual for a changling child: Gothic! is a collection of ten stories from authors such as Neil Gaiman, Gregory Maguire, and Caitlín R. Kiernan. Filled with ghouls, ghosts, and vampires, these stories are quiet, dark, gothic tales which haunt the edges of the horror genre. Most of the stories have missing or undeveloped aspects which make them good but not quite great; there are a few exceptions, both good and bad The history of a haunted stream, a wake for a witch-haunted corpse, a coming of age ritual for a changling child: Gothic! is a collection of ten stories from authors such as Neil Gaiman, Gregory Maguire, and Caitlín R. Kiernan. Filled with ghouls, ghosts, and vampires, these stories are quiet, dark, gothic tales which haunt the edges of the horror genre. Most of the stories have missing or undeveloped aspects which make them good but not quite great; there are a few exceptions, both good and bad, but on the whole this is a competent and enjoyable, if unexpectional, collection. There's enough variety in subject and tone to hold the reader's attention, and the stories are united by an indulgent, dark, gothic theme which is a pleasure to read. I recommend it. Although not traditional gothic literature, the stories in Gothic! are in the same vein: dark, creepy stories, most with fantastical elements, all indulgent pleasures. Unfortunately, it's as if the short story format isn't enough room to develop all of the aspects which make gothic literature a success. Character makes a story accessible, especially in YA lit; some stories, like Velde's "Morgan Roehmar's Boys," feature identifyiable and realistic teen protagonists, but in too many of the stories they're undeveloped or unrealistic. Some feature exaggerated (teen) stereotypes, which make for irritating characters. Plot provides direction, but in too many stories it feels like an afterthought. Sometimes that works well—Gaiman's "Forbidden Brides..." is particularly charming despite its fractured storyline—but often it creates uneven pacing and undirected action. And atmosphere, of course, is key to a gothic novel: the dark and haunted setting, the looming threats, the unexpected evil, which makes a story chilling and delightful. Much of gothic atmosphere depends on suspense, but some authors introduce too late, and so the gothic aspects feel cliché or unbelievable when they finally arrive. With one or two of these aspects falling by the wayside, the stories are often enjoyable but not exceptional. Yourgrau's "Have No Fear, Crumpot is Here!" is an exception: overdrawn humor and inadequate suspense make it flat, grating, and the worst story in the book. However, most stories fall in the "good but not great" category. Anderson's "Watch and Wake" has a unique setting and creepy magical aspects, but underdeveloped characters; Simner's "Stone Tower" is haunting and mysterious, but predictable—similarly, most of the stories are fun, indulgently creepy reads, but few are memorable. Few, but not none: Velde's "Morgan Roehmar's Boys" is solid if unexpectional, combining a creepy haunting with truly unexpected violence. Best of all is Kiernan's "The Dead and the Moonstruck," which has character, plot, and atmosphere to spare. A tender coming of age story in an unusual fantastical setting, it's intriguing, sympathetic, and my favorite story in the collection. A standard of "good but not great, with one or two exceptions" makes, all in all, for a successful collection. Gothic! is an enjoyable quiet read, ideal for curling up with under the covers; creepy, frightening, mysterious, and sometimes humorous, the stories are indulgent and enjoyable. Each is unique, most are enjoyable, and gothic literature is a wonderful dark pleasure. I wish there were more standout stories, but it is rare to find a short story collection (especially a themed anthology) that offers constant high quality—and so I am content with as much. For fans of gothic literature or dark fantasy, Gothic! is worth picking up. It's a fast read, but altogether enjoyable, and I recommend it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Maggie May

    Like most collections of short stories, some tales are better than others (and more gothic than others in this case). The first story of the collection "Lungewater" is a wonderfully compelling story full of mist and 'otherness.' A tale by Neil Gaiman, "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire," is a clever parody of gothic lit. "Writing on the Wall" is a well told ghost story. And "Stone Tower" is a nice modern gothic fairytale. If you like dark Like most collections of short stories, some tales are better than others (and more gothic than others in this case). The first story of the collection "Lungewater" is a wonderfully compelling story full of mist and 'otherness.' A tale by Neil Gaiman, "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire," is a clever parody of gothic lit. "Writing on the Wall" is a well told ghost story. And "Stone Tower" is a nice modern gothic fairytale. If you like dark and creepy tales you will definitely enjoy this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Katharine Kruse

    Scattered among some unremarkable ghost stories and melodramatic supernatural YA are some genuinely good offerings. Unsurprisingly, Neil Gaiman's "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire" is closest to what I would consider traditionally "gothic" (though you probably guessed that from the title alone), even invoking the names of 18th century staples The Castle of Otranto and The Mysteries of Udolpho. Being Gaiman, however, there is more to the ta Scattered among some unremarkable ghost stories and melodramatic supernatural YA are some genuinely good offerings. Unsurprisingly, Neil Gaiman's "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire" is closest to what I would consider traditionally "gothic" (though you probably guessed that from the title alone), even invoking the names of 18th century staples The Castle of Otranto and The Mysteries of Udolpho. Being Gaiman, however, there is more to the tale than meets the eye, and he uses his vast and intimate knowledge of the gothic style to spoof the genre, to excellent effect. How can you not love this: The man facing him was almost his double - the white streak in the auburn hair proclaimed them of the same blood, if any proof were needed. The stranger's eyes were dark and wild, his mouth petulant yet oddly firm. "Yes - I! I, your elder brother, whom you thought dead these many years. But I am not dead - or perhaps, I am no longer dead - and I have come back - aye, come back from ways that are best left untraveled - to claim what is truly mine!" And then they fight. With swords. Joy! I couldn't help but giggle when I inevitably compared "Forbidden Brides" to some of the other, gravely earnest, tales in the book. Another standout was M.T. Anderson's "The Dead Watch," which presses the peculiar advantage of the short story to drop the reader smack in media res, in an unfamiliar situation, then parsimoniously dole out clues that hint at a larger, hidden story underneath the surface. Anderson's setting is a bizarre take on the American open road, in a landscape dotted with "demon towers" and "pits," where the occult is a constant and commonplace threat. My last honorable mention goes to Barry Yourgrau, whose "Have No Fear, Crumpot is Here!" and hilariously naive, self-involved 14-year-old boy narrator were laugh-out-loud funny. Even during the child murder scene (!). Note: This review was written about an uncorrected advance reading copy.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tatiana Dengo

    Before you read this collection, understand that these are NOT horror stories nor do they claim to be. Gothic stories are dark yes, and they often include: mysteries, old dwellings, and a touch of the supernatural. Deborah Noyes does an excellent job of explaining the nuances in the introduction. There's very few gothic stories in our school's library which I haven't yet read, and thankfully these satisfied my craving. Some are quite traditional, with an old house, creepy things happening, etc. Before you read this collection, understand that these are NOT horror stories nor do they claim to be. Gothic stories are dark yes, and they often include: mysteries, old dwellings, and a touch of the supernatural. Deborah Noyes does an excellent job of explaining the nuances in the introduction. There's very few gothic stories in our school's library which I haven't yet read, and thankfully these satisfied my craving. Some are quite traditional, with an old house, creepy things happening, etc. Some are hair-raisingly spooky, especially the one with the boys. And the others seemed experimental for the sake of being so. These included very world-specific details, yet explained almost nothing, and ended extremely vaguely. I won't hide behind pride and say I "got" them, because I didn't, and I was not impressed. Leaving your readers hanging by a thread takes skill, because you need the exact combination of vagueness plus enough detail where pushing your readers off the tracks is the most satisfying act you could have done. There's also a couple of stories in this collection where the ending was just too terrible to put into words and had the authors done so, it probably would've pushed their stories away from the gothic category and into the spectrum of horror. My favorites were: Watch and Wake by M.T. Anderson, and Morgan Roehmar's Boys by Vivian Vande Velde. Surprisingly, the stories from the three authors I did know (Neil Gaiman, Garth Nix and Gregory Maguire), were at the bottom of the list in terms of spookiness and ending satisfaction. Neil Gaiman was trying to be ironically funny and clever and I'm sure I could have appreciated it more if that's what I had been looking for in a collection of Gothic stories. Not my cup of tea at the moment but I appreciate the sentiment.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Missy (Missy's Reads & Reviews)

    Since this is an anthology, it's going to be short and sweet because I don't want to give too much away! Gothic! is a collection of ten short stories by known and not-so-known authors that have one thing in common: they know how to write a pretty eerie story. Now, mind you, gothic isn't necessarily scary like horror stories are. Gothic stories don't necessarily make you lose sleep, but you may keep a few lights on when you go to bed. In this anthology, you really have to take the good with the ba Since this is an anthology, it's going to be short and sweet because I don't want to give too much away! Gothic! is a collection of ten short stories by known and not-so-known authors that have one thing in common: they know how to write a pretty eerie story. Now, mind you, gothic isn't necessarily scary like horror stories are. Gothic stories don't necessarily make you lose sleep, but you may keep a few lights on when you go to bed. In this anthology, you really have to take the good with the bad. Some stories are spot-on, they story is well-written and fleshed out enough to be an understandable short story and also has those "creepy" moments I talked about before. Some stories sounded promising, but fell a little short. Then there was one or two that didn't have anything, except maybe good grammar. I have to say that Neil Gaiman's story, "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire" was as good as I expected it to be. Gaiman's an incredible writer and he delivered in this as well. I think the story I was most disappointed with was Gregory Maguire's "The Prank". It was definitely not the worst, but I'm a huge fan of his and I thought he could have done a little better. Overall, I'd recommend this as a good book to curl up with on the couch under the soft light of a table lamp late at night. I'd say this is "Halloween-creepy" - based on horror, but a little too commercial and kiddy to be truly scary.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

    with these stories i really like the sadistic and qrotesqueness, it really made this book stand out. With the stories themselves some were pretty good, others were kinda boring soo Really good stories: Morgan Roehmars Boys by Vivian Vande Velde - it was suspenseful throughout and there was a very surprising twist at the end! I loved how the ending page had a psychotic voice to it and it made a lasting eerieness after reading. Stone Tower by Janni Lee Simmer Writing on the Wall by Celia Rees: kinda with these stories i really like the sadistic and qrotesqueness, it really made this book stand out. With the stories themselves some were pretty good, others were kinda boring soo Really good stories: Morgan Roehmars Boys by Vivian Vande Velde - it was suspenseful throughout and there was a very surprising twist at the end! I loved how the ending page had a psychotic voice to it and it made a lasting eerieness after reading. Stone Tower by Janni Lee Simmer Writing on the Wall by Celia Rees: kinda reminded me of the messangers movie and it was pretty good. The Prank by Gregory Maguire: no reasoning, though i disliked the voice it had towards some people it was pretty good. Okay Stories: Lungewater by Joan Aiken: The storyline and the twists put into it were unique and eerie but overall i didnt like the lack of character development of the main character, it couldve had more done with it. Neil Gaiman (too long of a title lol) : This one was pretty creative and it had some humor in it which was pretty funny Have No Fear Crumpet is Here by Barry Yourgrau ehhhhh stories: Watch and Wake by M.T. Anderson: im not a huge fan of anderson in the first place sooo i thought it was good up until the ending where i thought it was a bit rushed. Dead & the Moonstruck by Caitlin R. Kiernan: same with M.T. anderson ending was just not there for me lol Endings by Garth Nix : it was very poeticly deep but kind of boring

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kitten Blue

    LUNGEWATER (Joan Aiken): pointless. MORGAN ROEHMAR’S BOYS (Vivian Vande Velde): uh ... surprising, I guess ... although not quite believable. WATCH AND WAKE (M.T. Anderson): creepy as fuck! very Grimm! pure win! :o FORBIDDEN BRIDES OF THE FACELESS SLAVES IN THE NAMELESS HOUSE OF THE NIGHT OF DREAD DESIRE (Neil Gaiman): *sigh* I want to hate this, but – okay – it’s funny and actually quite clever. it only comes together at the end, though. until then: IRRITATING. THE DEAD AND THE MOONSTRUCK (Caitlin LUNGEWATER (Joan Aiken): pointless. MORGAN ROEHMAR’S BOYS (Vivian Vande Velde): uh ... surprising, I guess ... although not quite believable. WATCH AND WAKE (M.T. Anderson): creepy as fuck! very Grimm! pure win! :o FORBIDDEN BRIDES OF THE FACELESS SLAVES IN THE NAMELESS HOUSE OF THE NIGHT OF DREAD DESIRE (Neil Gaiman): *sigh* I want to hate this, but – okay – it’s funny and actually quite clever. it only comes together at the end, though. until then: IRRITATING. THE DEAD AND THE MOONSTRUCK (Caitlin R. Kiernan): huh?? pointless #2. HAVE NO FEAR, CRUMPOT IS HERE! (Barry Yourgrau): LOL! STONE TOWER (Janni Lee Simner): aww! love! very Grimm, too! :) THE PRANK (Gregory Maguire): WTF?? o.O WRITING ON THE WALL (Celia Rees): pointless #3. ENDINGS (Garth Nix): uh ... I don’t think I’m smart enough for this one, LOL. FINAL VERDICT: short stories are not my thing.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Smiley08

    GOTHIC: Ten Original Dark Tales is a book written by many authors. This book contains only short stories. They are mostly about things that are not really normal. For example the vampires, witches, ghouls, and ghosts. The stories contain very mature things. The first story is about a count that fell in love with a young lady. The thing is she ddn't respond to his love. She went back to where she lives and the count sent poems with his loyal servant. He always demande to take the short way. The GOTHIC: Ten Original Dark Tales is a book written by many authors. This book contains only short stories. They are mostly about things that are not really normal. For example the vampires, witches, ghouls, and ghosts. The stories contain very mature things. The first story is about a count that fell in love with a young lady. The thing is she ddn't respond to his love. She went back to where she lives and the count sent poems with his loyal servant. He always demande to take the short way. The servant never did because it was too dangerous. He sent her like 2 poems when he dud she alredy had 2 daughters. He was angered, but he never stopped loving her. The last poem he sent was not delivered because he died (the servant). His brother came to finish his demand.... There are a lot more stories. This book is really good yet weird. It scares you at times. It shouldn't be read by people under 13 ( just saying). Good book though!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    So far it's going well. I started this last night when I couldn't sleep and I read three stories. The story by Niel Gaiman, "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire", was a nice twist on a classic scary story and has probably the best name. "Endings" by Garth Nix, though short, was amazing. I'm liking him more and more all the time. I even enjoyed Gregory Maguire's "The Prank", and I haven't liked anything that I've read of his before this. Lungew So far it's going well. I started this last night when I couldn't sleep and I read three stories. The story by Niel Gaiman, "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire", was a nice twist on a classic scary story and has probably the best name. "Endings" by Garth Nix, though short, was amazing. I'm liking him more and more all the time. I even enjoyed Gregory Maguire's "The Prank", and I haven't liked anything that I've read of his before this. Lungewater by Joan Aiken is so far the worst story I've read in this book. It was ok, but dull. Morgan Rodhmar's Boys by Vivian Vande Velde was super creepy with a very good ending. It's a great Halloween story. Again I didn't finish this before the book had to be returned, but the stories that I got to were great and I'm hoping to get a chance to read the rest of them.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tripmastermonkey

    i didn't love this book, but some of the stories were really fun. i hated the story by Gregory Maguire (i think it totally depoliticizes the idea of what a hate-crime is) i think the female authors in the collection were definitely superior. they just developed the characters in a short space in a way the men didn't. Janni Lee Simner's and Celia Rees's stories were probably my favorites. Neil Gaiman's (Sandman comics, many other great fantasy stories) "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in th i didn't love this book, but some of the stories were really fun. i hated the story by Gregory Maguire (i think it totally depoliticizes the idea of what a hate-crime is) i think the female authors in the collection were definitely superior. they just developed the characters in a short space in a way the men didn't. Janni Lee Simner's and Celia Rees's stories were probably my favorites. Neil Gaiman's (Sandman comics, many other great fantasy stories) "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire" was hilarious as satire. i read this collection because, as i've just become a teen librarian, reading a collection of authors would expose me to a diversity of teen authors in a short space. i'm looking forward to reading other stories by some of these authors.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Gothic! is a collection of 10 gothic short stories, several from well-known authors. I have rated each of the stories and used the average for my review (3.5 stars). Although I enjoyed the collection overall, there was a lot of iron pyrite mixed in with a few nuggets of gold. Some were incredibly creepy, and others had bits of humour that were refreshing. I'm not much of a short story person, nor a gothic person, so that might have biased my ratings. 1. Lungewater - 2 stars 2. Morgan Roehmar's Bo Gothic! is a collection of 10 gothic short stories, several from well-known authors. I have rated each of the stories and used the average for my review (3.5 stars). Although I enjoyed the collection overall, there was a lot of iron pyrite mixed in with a few nuggets of gold. Some were incredibly creepy, and others had bits of humour that were refreshing. I'm not much of a short story person, nor a gothic person, so that might have biased my ratings. 1. Lungewater - 2 stars 2. Morgan Roehmar's Boys - 3.5 stars 3. Watch and Wake - 4 stars 4. Forbidden Brides...of Dread Desire - 5 stars 5. The Dead and the Moonstruck - 4 stars 6. Have No Fear, Crumpot is Here - 2.5 stars 7. Stone Tower - 3 stars 8. The Prank - 3.5 stars 9. Writing on the Wall - 2.5 stars 10. Endings - 5 stars

  30. 4 out of 5

    Emma Meade

    I found this at the bottom of a box of books in the shed. As far as I can remember, I’d been given this as a gift many years back, so I sat down with the book recently to read through it properly. Some of the stories were quite enjoyable, like the haunted barn/hayride tale by Vivan Vande Velde, “Morgan Roehmar’s Boys” which I would have loved to read as a full length novel. “Stone Tower” was beautifully written and kept me turning the pages rapidly to find out what tragedy had befallen Tara. “Wa I found this at the bottom of a box of books in the shed. As far as I can remember, I’d been given this as a gift many years back, so I sat down with the book recently to read through it properly. Some of the stories were quite enjoyable, like the haunted barn/hayride tale by Vivan Vande Velde, “Morgan Roehmar’s Boys” which I would have loved to read as a full length novel. “Stone Tower” was beautifully written and kept me turning the pages rapidly to find out what tragedy had befallen Tara. “Watch and Wake” was creepy, Melanie’s snarky voice resonated strongly in “The Prank”, and I chuckled reading “Have No Fear Crumpot is Here”, but others I found a little pointless and just didn’t understand. On the whole, they were enjoyable.

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