Illustration of a young woman in a blue dress standing in front of a hedge maze.

No other genre in the world loves anthologies quite like horror. From Creepshow to Trick ‘r Treat, film fans of the macabre gravitate to this form of segmented storytelling with a fervor that’s rarely replicated elsewhere. It isn’t clear why this combination is such a peanut-butter-and-chocolate-style success, but my guess is that it has something to do with the goal of a chilling tale. Horror is meant to shock. It’s a genre predicated on surprise, and a truly terrifying twist is just as effective in fifteen minutes as it is in two hours. In Goblin (Del Ray), out May 18, 2021, author Josh Malerman has taken the beloved anthology format and turned it into an effective and thrilling novel.

The story of Goblin is told in six novellas that follow various citizens of a small town by the same name. Though the protagonists are memorable, the town itself stands equally large as a character throughout. Malerman weaves the city’s influence into every interaction. Constant rain, endangered owls, the sinister North Woods, and the fact that Gobliners are buried standing up all act as malevolent forces influencing every character interaction and decision. 

Equally effective to the setting are Malerman’s main characters. From plucky would-be magicians to neurotic historians, Goblin’s heroes vibrate with an energy very close to the aforementioned Creepshow. These characters live in a place somewhere between EC comics and real life. The effect is creepy, and creepy is good.

All six novellas are top-notch, but the standout story is rightfully saved for last. “The Hedges,” is a masters-level study in emotional storytelling. What starts as a tense race against the clock for two characters pitted against each other slowly evolves into a meditation on grief, empathy, and the endurance of the heart. 

Goblin is the perfect novel for book lovers who like to savor their current read. The novella format allows for reflection at the end of each hour-long tale. And with writing as fine as Malerman’s you’ll have much to relish with every turn of the page.

Goblin is out May 18, 2021 from Del Ray.

Front cover for Josh Malerman's novel "Goblin," featuring an illustration of a gothic house on a hill and a young girl in a blue dress standing in front of a hedge maze.

Looking for more great horror reads? Check out The Substitute Teacher in Thrift Store Finds.

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