Review: Goblin by Josh Malerman

goblin_coverGoblin by Josh Malerman
Earthling Publications (October 31, 2017)

Josh Malerman received a lot of attention over his debut novel, Bird Box, and continued the buzz earlier this year with his second release, Black Mad Wheel. That’s all fine and dandy, but if you ask me it’s Goblin that’s going to resonate deepest with long-time horror readers like myself. The reason why is simple—Goblin is Malerman’s stab at one of the great tropes of the horror genre: “The Town That’s Not Quite Right.”

Derry. Oxrun Station. Castle Rock. Cedar Hill. Goblin. Lovely places to visit, but you probably wouldn’t want to live there. Beneath their chamber of commerce-approved veneers, something rotten squirms. In Goblin, there are more outward signs than most. It never seems to stop raining, for one thing. For another, NO ONE goes in the North Woods, because EVERYONE believes that a witch lives there, and that she can stop your heart with just a whisper. Goblin is a place where great owls rule the treetops, and the streets are patrolled by men with waxy skin and hidden eyes.

Over the course of the six novellas that make up Goblin, Malerman fleshes out the town with eccentric yet believable characters; an intriguingly haunted and bloody history; and enough dark corners and unanswered questions to fill (I hope) many more volumes. If nothing else, he owes us at least one more to follow up on this book’s astounding ending. Yes, it ends in a cliffhanger, but don’t let that put you off—it’s more than satisfying regardless.

Goblin is part of the Earthling Publications “Halloween Series,” a tradition that’s become as dear to me as trick-or-treating and month-long horror movie marathons. This one is lucky #13, and publisher Paul Miller has set himself a tall order if he hopes to top it next year. There are only 500 signed hardcovers available through the publisher, so I’d suggest you jump on this one quickly.

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