Goblin: A Novel in Six Novellas

I’d like to thank Netgalley, Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine and Del Rey for an ARC of this copy to review.

Each story is given it’s own short review.

A Man in Slices

A young man is asked to prove his love to his girlfriend by sending her body parts.

I enjoyed the first of the six stories. The main character of the story is Richard. Richard has been the only friend of Charles, a boy who has always been looked at as troubled and disturbed since moving to Goblin. Through several flashbacks, we are given examples of Charles’s odd behavior and of Richard’s continued loyalty to him. Present-day we find Richard once again wrestling with the decision to support Charles and his disturbing activities or to turn away once and for all.

I felt the story was well-written and well-paced. I could feel the internal struggle Richard went through as his loyalty to Charles was tested, and also the warped sense of hope, dread, and anxiety Charles went through while trying to prove his love for his girlfriend.

Kamp

Walter Kamp is afraid of dying from fright. He has gutted his apartment and even sleeps on a Plexiglas bed so there is nowhere for anyone or anything to hide.

The second story did not really do it for me. I found the parts with Kamp whining and screaming in his apartment more annoying and tedious than creepy or interesting. I did however enjoy when the history of the town of Goblin is discussed. I wanted to read more about that and was disappointed when the story returned to Kamp and his ghost anxiety. The ending to this one was underwhelming (at least to me) as well.

Happy Birthday, Hunter!

On the night of his 60th birthday party, big game hunter Neil Nash sets out with several of his friends to hunt the rare and off-limits Great Owl in the forbidden North Woods.

Overall I enjoyed the third story. I found the premise interesting and I was excited to see some carnage at the hands of the Owls which had already been mentioned several times in the other stories. I was excited for a man vs beast horror story. The story wasn’t quite what I expected but it was still enjoyable. Nash is a character that shows his true colors the further into the story you get. I was not head over heels for the ending of this one but I am hoping there is a little more added to it in the epilogue.

Presto

Pete is obsessed with magic. And his favorite magician Roman Emperor is going to be coming to Goblin for a midnight show.

I’m torn on this story. I liked it and I didn’t. The magic described (in the opening scene) was fun to read about. Anytime magicians are brought up in a horror story I find it fascinating so the story caught my attention right away. The character of Maggie I thought was very intriguing and I wanted to know more about her. Pete’s excitement to see the magic show was contagious and I began to look forward to it as much as him.

What I didn’t like. The story jumps from what is happening with Pete in the present to Roman’s history and the backstory of how he became a magician. This in itself isn’t a huge problem except that it takes up a huge chunk of the story and when we finally get back to the present and the magic show it comes and goes almost like an afterthought. There is barely any time or description given to it. It feels extremely rushed and glossed over and I felt frustrated reading it.

A Mix-up At The Zoo

Dirk Rogers works as a tour guide at the Goblin Zoo and at the Goblin Slaughter House. But working seven days a week is beginning to drive him crazy.

The most horrific part of this horror book was reading this story. The other stories I read in one sitting each. But for this one, I took multiple breaks. I found myself staring at a paragraph that I knew I had read but was drawing a blank as to what it had said. I had to re-read certain sentences and/or paragraphs before they made sense. And at no point was any of it interesting to me.

The protagonist, Dirk Rogers, gives tours at the Zoo during the week and at the Slaughter House on the weekends. For some reason, this is driving him insane. It is said several times throughout the story that he is somewhat slow and non-philosophical. But all he seems to do is whine about the philosophical point of his job giving tours and wanting to be his own boss.

The story felt like a chore to finish and at times I wondered if it was written by another author. Had this been a full-length novel I would not have finished it. I didn’t feel that this story added at all to the lore of the city of Goblin and could have and should have been left out of the book.

The Hedges

Margot, a nine-year-old girl discovers the horrible secret at the center of the Hedges, the huge maze created by Wayne Sherman.

After the “horrible secret” was revealed in this story, I spent the rest of the story thinking, “so what?” Even when a possible explanation was given, and a very vague and unsubstantiated one with many holes in it at that, I still wondered for the rest of the story what the big deal was.

The story finally included some scenes with the much talked about Goblin police but in my opinion, not enough. Like several of the book’s other stories once their time finally arrives it seems to be hurried and glossed over very quickly.

In the end, this story was another merely OK story for me. The transgression of Wayne Sherman didn’t seem to warrant the reaction it got. And with the story being so short it just felt rushed and unfinished to me.

Welcome / Make Yourself At Home

Tom is a delivery driver asked to make one last delivery for the night to the town of Goblin 70 miles away. He is given specific instructions to make the delivery between 12:00 and 12:30 am. If there is no one there to collect the delivery or if he is late. He is to destroy the contents.

This short two-parter might have been my favorite of the stories. It was dark, creepy, and immediately got me curious about the package. What was it? Why did it have to be delivered at that specific time? Who was waiting for it? Was something going to happen with it before being delivered? What would happen when it was delivered? This simple prop of a mysterious box had me more interested than most of the other longer stories in the book.

Overall Reaction

My overall reaction to this book is, it was OK. There were stories that I liked. Stories that I did not like at all, and stories that I thought were just OK. There were stories I really wanted to like more than I did. I get excited when I see a horror story about magicians. I have always felt a Zoo to be a great and underutilized setting for a horror story/book. But unfortunately, I found both of those stories to be underwhelming in this case.

Instead of being about what was actually happening much of this book was flashbacks and often the flashbacks felt more like bland filler than anything that helped move the story along. Like homework you had to do before you were given more of the actual story. I enjoyed the bits of lore that were given about Goblin and I really wish they were delved into more. Examples would be more about the police and the mayor.

This is a book I would not recommend for someone looking for a scary or disturbing horror novel. But I’m not saying don’t read it either. Some of my gripes can be put down to personal preference and if this looks like the type of book you like, give it a shot.

2 and a Half Masks out of 5

Use the link below to purchase this book on Amazon.

Goblin: A Novel in Six Novellas

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Goblin: A Novel in Six Novellas

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