Occultation and Other Stories Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Laird Barron has emerged as one of the strongest voices in modern horror and dark fantasy fiction, building on the eldritch tradition pioneered by writers such as H. P. Lovecraft, Peter Straub, and Thomas Ligotti. His stories have garnered critical acclaim and been reprinted in numerous year's best anthologies and nominated for multiple awards, including the Crawford, International Horror Guild, Shirley Jackson, Theodore Sturgeon, and World Fantasy Awards. His debut collection, The Imago Sequence and Other Stories, was the inaugural winner of the Shirley Jackson Award. He returns with his second collection, Occultation. Pitting ordinary men and women against a carnivorous, chaotic cosmos, Occultation's eight tales of terror (two never before published) include the Theodore Sturgeon and Shirley Jackson Award-nominated story "The Forest" and Shirley Jackson Award nominee "The Lagerstatte."
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|Listening Length||12 hours and 32 minutes|
|Audible.com Release Date||August 05, 2014|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #203,100 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#354 in Fantasy Anthologies & Short Stories (Audible Books & Originals)
#356 in Horror Anthologies & Short Stories
#1,402 in Literature Anthologies
Reviewed in the United States on January 2, 2022
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Top reviews from the United States
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There are really no duds here, but "Mysterium Tremendum" and "Strappado" were the standouts for me. Stories that stuck with me long after putting the book down, it just doesn't get much better than these in the weird fiction realm. If you're the type of reader who requires everything to be wrapped up in a nice bow and explained to you, Barron's stories might not be your cup of tea. If you like to finish something, put it down, stare blankly at the wall and mutter "Whoa...", then wonder if there's time to go back and read it again, Laird's stuff will be right up your alley.
Enjoy the ride.
This collection by LB was even more fun than his other works with which I am familiar. There are themes that I have not seen LB undertake before, for example, an eerie post-apocalyptic mystery/ghost story that keeps the reader on edge right up to the end (and well beyond,to be honest).
As always,what sets Barron apart is his writing style. He commands the English language as do few others being published today (Caitlin R. Kiernan comes to mind). His vocabulary, grammar and unique phrasings distinguish his work, not just in his chosen genre, but among those writing in pretty much all genres. I consider him a gift to those of us who enjoy reading,but who thrill to superior writing. Highest recommendation.
Barron is a great writer, and I particularly like his characters because they are people who have lived life, both good and bad, and he shows it in his writing. I really also enjoy that like much of Lovecraft inspired fiction his characters don't just go down helplessly in some insanity driven stupor. They go down, you can bet on it, but they do it with teeth bared and fight in their blood till the bitter end. In which ever macabre fashion that may be.
Barron just has a knack for pulling you in to a story, taking something simple and making it interesting, and in many cases, terrifying. To date I can say he is one of the best short horror fiction writers that I have read. I'm actually glad I am new to his writings as I still have his two novels and his 3rd anthology to look forward too.
Highly recommended! Keep the goodies coming Mr. Barron!
Occultation is the second collection by Laird Barron, a native of Alaska who lived near Olympia, Washington at the time this was written. You might've noticed I said "collection" and not "short story collection," and that's because many of the pieces here are well into novella territory. Six of the nine stories are over 10,000 words and one, the masterful "Mysterium Tremendum," is nearly 25,000 words. That's about half a Great Gatsby worth!
The longer format gives Barron plenty of room to develop his characters and settings in detail, and give us a sense of real individuals and actual relationships being affected by the onset of weird and macabre events. In "Mysterium Tremendum," mentioned above, a group of four men explore wild, vacant land in Washington with the help of a dark guidebook they encounter. Events turn increasingly strange as they come to understand some of the warnings they ignored.
In "-30-," which may be my favorite thing in the book, two researchers observe wild animals in a remote wildland, again set somewhere near the vicinity of the author's own territory. The two researchers are influenced by their isolation, as well as by things they find in their surroundings.
In stories like these, Barron so gradually shifts the reality of these characters that we barely notice the change in their circumstances, from a reality like that which we inhabit, to something very different, and truly dark.
The shorter pieces in the collection are worthwhile too. The title story, which observes a young married couple drinking, drugging and sexing their way through a desert vacation, packs quite a punch despite its brevity.
I have a hard time remembering the last time I read a single-author story collection (not counting career-summations or "best-of" books by established greats) that was so solid all the way through. I have just as hard a time naming more than a handful of currently-active writers whose new work I anticipate with more eagerness than Laird Barron's.
Top reviews from other countries
I read this collection over a number of months reading a story every now and then. And each time I returned to it, I was blown away by the quality of story telling throughout the collection.
This has been my first Laird Barron collection I have read, and it definitely won't be the last. Laird has the skill of brilliant story telling, and I enjoyed every single story in this collection.
If you have not checked Laird out yet, I heavily recommend you do!
Favourite stories - The Broadsword and -30-
Every time that I go through his stories, I notice a new facet of detail.
I really can't recommend his books strongly enough.
I thought the least successful efforts were 'Catch Hell' and 'Six Six Six', both of which had a pretty obvious 'Rosemary's Baby'/Hammer Horror devil worship thing going on. 'Six Six Six' particularly jumped about all over the place and felt as if it had been phoned in. My favourites were the (very) short 'Occultation' which had a very unnerving David Lynch type quality (though some might say it doesn't really go anywhere) and, particularly, 'Mysterium Tremendum' which I felt was the only story in the collection really worthy of the Lovecraft comparisons. 'The Broadsword' was also very good though that suffered from being a bit incoherent and jumbled in its themes.
On the whole though I enjoyed the collection, just wouldn't rate it half as highly as some. 3.5 stars would be more accurate but I'm rounding up for effort! Would certainly try more Laird Barron in the future, particularly at not so steep a price.