Book Review

Goblin: A Novel in Six Novellas

Goblin: A Novel in Six NovellasGoblin: A Novel in Six Novellas
Author: Josh Malerman
Publisher: Del Rey
First Published: May 18, 2021
Genres: Horror, Paranormal
Pages: 400
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley


Goblin seems like any other ordinary small town. But with the master storyteller Josh Malerman as your tour guide, you'll discover the secrets that hide behind its closed doors. These six novellas tell the story of a place where the rain is always falling, nighttime is always near, and your darkest fears and desires await. Welcome to Goblin. . . .

A Man in Slices: A man proves his “legendary love” to his girlfriend with a sacrifice even more daring than Vincent van Gogh’s—and sends her more than his heart.

Kamp: Walter Kamp is afraid of everything, but most afraid of being scared to death. As he sets traps around his home to catch the ghosts that haunt him, he learns that nothing is more terrifying than fear itself.

Happy Birthday, Hunter!: A famed big-game hunter is determined to capture—and kill—the ultimate prey: the mythic Great Owl who lives in Goblin’s dark forests. But this mysterious creature is not the only secret the woods are keeping.

Presto: All Peter wants is to be like his hero, Roman Emperor, the greatest magician in the world. When the famous magician comes to Goblin, Peter discovers that not all magic is just an illusion.

A Mix-Up at the Zoo: The new zookeeper feels a mysterious kinship with the animals in his care . . . and finds that his work is freeing dark forces inside him.

The Hedges: When his wife dies, a man builds a hedge maze so elaborate no one ever solves it—until a little girl resolves to be the first to find the mysteries that wait at its heart.

Also by this author: Bird Box

Warnings: Violence

My Thoughts

Weird towns, we love to see them, and I’m always interested when a previously rare book is republished. I was excited for Goblin the premise sounded good, I love novellas, and the idea of interconnected stories that tell a greater narrative about a town is solid. The idea is good, but the execution was lackluster at most and terribly boring at worst.

Happy Birthday, Hunter! was my favorite story of the bunch, the characters and atmosphere are perfect, and the ending was satisfying. A Man in Slices was also decent, while it drags at parts, the idea of having a friend that’s not quite right was well delivered. Even for the stories that I didn’t care for as much, Malerman always succeeds in creating creative plots with some genuinely tense moments that give me pause.

These strengths are bogged down by overwritten stories with often predictable or underwhelming endings. A few had the potential to be really great, I always started off liking many of the stories, but the stories meander so much that the point becomes lost, such as in Kamp and Presto. If I were to be perfectly honest, I was very tempted to not finish this book, each story eventually started to become a slog to get through and I started to lose interest during the last couple of stories. I’ll still read more books by Malerman, but this one just didn’t do it for me.

“He hadn’t been thinking directly of ghosts but ghosts always hid in the one place with corners he could not remove. His mind.”


About Josh Malerman

Josh Malerman is an American novelist, short story writer, film producer, and one of two singer/songwriters for the rock band The High Strung. He is best known for writing his post-apocalyptic novel, Bird Box, which was the inspiration for the Netflix film Bird Box

I’m a Filipino American blogger, historian, and lazy writer. I enjoy books, video games, anime/manga, and smoking hookah.

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