I was looking forward to reading this double collection of horror short stories after hearing Ligotti be recommended by so many other writers I admire. And I can see why there was so much hype. I was immensely impressed, and Ligotti has become my favorite living horror writer and probably the best writer of weird fiction since Lovecraft. Ligotti is like the Ted Chiang of horror—not in terms of theme or content, but in the fact that they only write short stories and their stories are all fantastic and deep philosophically. Ligotti’s brand of horror is highly cerebral. He is a master of prose style, which is similar to Lovecraft’s in its verbosity and poetic beauty. Ligotti is also similar to Lovecraft in his content and themes—primarily extreme nihilism. His nonfiction book, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, which I read last year, lays out his antinatalist worldview—a worldview I do not share—though I enjoy reading about those dark themes in fiction. After all, what could be more horrific than the idea that human life doesn’t matter and it would be better if we did not exist?
The big theme of this year’s list is short stories and short story collections. I’ve recently been drawn to shorter fiction, both as a reader and a writer. I love being able to finish a story in one sitting. The best part of any story is the ending—it makes or breaks the story—which is why I’m not so much a fan of long-running multi-book series (ortelevision shows). There’s only so much time in the day, and while some series are worth the length (like Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicle), I can’t afford to read too many series. I prefer standalone novels or something even shorter, like novellas, novelettes, and short stories. By reading short fiction, I’m able to get a complete story with a (hopefully) satisfying ending, plus read a wider selection of different authors and genres. Continue reading →