Goblin by Josh Malerman
Earthling Publications, October 2017
ISBN: Not available
Available: Limited edition numbered hardcover copies, direct from publisher only
It’s the time of year when horror is in the air, a celebrated author is called up, and Earthling Publications turns out another Halloween masterpiece. This year, the newest superstar in the genre, Josh Malerman, takes the helm and delivers one of the best offerings in the history of the series. Malerman, fresh off the success of his second novel, Black Mad Wheel, and the news that his novel Bird Box will soon be a major motion picture, displays consummate skill in Goblin, a book comprised of six novellas all taking place in the small town of Goblin, Michigan.
Goblin, Michigan is Derry. It’s Oxrun Station. It’s Cedar Hills. It’s Green Town. It’s all of us in our hometowns, and yet, it’s something brand new.. Think of Goblin as Derry’s disturbed little brother, filling the reader with uneasy pleasure from cover to cover.
“A Man In Slices” shows that friendship can be a tricky concept, as a boy does whatever he can to help his lonely friend, at any cost. “Kamp” is a lighter tale, about a man petrified of a seeing a ghost. Everyone in Walter’s family has, and he knows his time is coming. How he copes with the expectation will make many readers feel a bit better about their own issues with things that go bump in the night.”Happy Birthday, Hunter” displays the heart and obsession of a man who cannot give up the hunt. Nash’s addiction comes to a boiling point during his 60th birthday party, when he decides to kill Goblin’s most prized game in the north woods, a place from which no one ever returns.”Presto” is a love affair with magic, the oldest and darkest kind, where a young boy seeks to learn the secrets behind his favorite performer in a story that channels classic Bradbury.”A Mix-Up At The Zoo” details the inner struggle of Dirk, a man who switches jobs to become a tour guide in a zoo, a far cry from his other employment in the slaughterhouse. He finds a talent for understanding the mighty beasts within the cages but feels a certain darkness brewing when he drifts off in thought. In “The Hedges,” mazes, both ones built out of corn and the famed topiary in the film version of “The Shining,” emerge. Young Margot claims to have solved the unsolvable creation by Wayne Sherman. What she finds at the end causes her to alert the Goblin police.
The mythology about Goblin’s history is richly drawn within these stories and connects them effectively, with a style that keeps the pages turning. Malerman has created a town that may even be darker than something that King, Grant, and Bradbury have created. Goblin should be listed on every horror reader’s itinerary, with the lights turned low and the night breeze creeping into the room. An incredible Halloween find for all. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Dave Simms