Book Review: The Grimscribe's Puppets edited by Joseph S. Pulver Sr. - More2Read

The Grimscribe’s Puppets edited by Joseph S. Pulver Sr.

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About The Grimscribe’s Puppets

Thomas Ligotti is beyond doubt one of the Grandmasters of Weird Fiction. In The Grimscribe’s Puppets, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., has commissioned both new and established talents in the world of weird fiction and horror to contribute all new tales that pay hoame to Ligotti and celebrate his eerie and essential nightmares. Poppy Z. Brite once asked, “Are you out here, Thomas Ligotti?” This anthology proves not only is he alive and well, but his extraordinary illuminations have proven to be visionary and fertile source of inspiration for some of today’s most accomplished authors.

List of tales:

Livia Llewellyn “Furnace” [5,800]
Daniel Mills “The Lord Came at Twilight” [3,950]
Michael Cisco “The Secrets of the Universe” [3,360]
Kaaron Warren “The Human Moth” [2,700]
Joel Lane “Basement Angels” [2,697]
Darrell Schweitzer “No Signal” [1,735]
Robin Spriggs “THE XENAMBULIST: A Fable in Four Acts” [3,369]
Nicole Cushing “The Company Town” [1,700]
Cody Goodfellow “The Man Who Escaped This Story” [8,490]
Michael Kelly “Pieces of Blackness” [3,750]
Eddie M. Angerhuber “The Blue Star” [2,970]
Mike Griffin “Diamond Dust” [4,900]
Richard Gavin “After the Final” [3,100]
Scott Nicolay “Eyes Exchange Bank” [9,050]
Simon Strantzas “BY INVISIBLE HANDS” [6,200]
Paul Tremblay “Where We Will All Be” [4,900]
Ally Bird “Gailestis” [4,019]
Jeff Thomas “The Prosthesis” [4,835]
John Langan “Into the Darkness, Fearlessly” [10,499]
Gemma Files “OUBLIETTE” [8,424]




Slowly reads will accumulate and reviews added by end of May 2021


Oubliette by Gemma Files 


Survived attempts on her own life before new drugs, therapy, advices, and a new home Shumate House with 24hr care and security, apartment 5.
27 years old.
Thordis Hendricks

Writing in a therapy blog post and dream diary, her dreams, her treatments and state of mind.
The darkness and dealing within the whirlwind of her mind a narrative compelling you with transcripts, case notes, emails and reports with a few minutes interloping the days of Thordis Hendricks.
There are distressing things and some melancholy contained within, a compelling ugliness that borders on some realities that do transpire upon this earth.
There is a war within the war, there is a beauty in the journey, the transpiring, surviving, the courage, and the ways the tale is communicated with words and the symmetry of them and the choice, the was, is, and is not, a beauty, a terrible beauty.
Reader invited to a crucible of existence with Thordis and empathically reading along and descending into something with an equilibrium under duress.

Mental illness
Some light too in here.
Make sure have a laugh, watch comedy, after this if reading during pandemic.

Friday 29th January 2020 I was reading a few mysteries and thrillers that were not catching me and compelling me, then thought to try out another short tale so the evening did not end on a slump. Lately I had been on a great ride of reads in a row mostly short stories that had been good, and this one not long finishing a new collection of hers In That Endlessness, Our End, Gemma Files did it again. 

I will be reading the collections these stories are in with my other project Tales Old and New, where I was reading certain authors and their tribute collections.
I will be starting again with no false starts in February, one hopes, with Thomas Ligotti and short story tributes and influenced authors works.
So there will be many things In February to look out for including a few small press purchases I want to cover. Reviews and maybe connected interviews with some authors in the collections.



“Like I’d been born and almost died inside a prison cell, thinking that tiny bit of sky I could see through the window was the wide world, and me outside in it, walking, talking, laughing, living. Until that sky itself became a horror too, blue just a thin lid over black, gravity always in danger of failing before the upwards rush and airless fall into deep space—and it was that fear, that awful lurch, which wrenched me back in and reframed my understanding. Showed me the grave I’d all this time been trapped by, and began to push its walls in on top of me.
I feel better these days, of course, though not by much. But this, what we’re doing right now…this is supposed to help.”

“Oubliette, jaunty oubliette. And this place, Apartment Five, Shumate House—just a more comfortable version of the same? A place to be parked out of sight, out of mind, ‘til I’m all safely re-calibrated and refurbished…ready to take my place in the world as it is, rather than the world as I thought it was? Ready for public consumption?”

“How much, exactly, is a life without extremes worth, when all’s said and done? No depression, no joy. Just grey, marching grey, simplest of all possible forward motions at barely impulse speed, like algae. Existing, not living.”


Furnace by Livia Llewellyn


Town is dying ashes are falling.
A thirteen year old voice on the precipice of adulthood with feelings in a world dying and topsy turvy.
Cold town, dying towns, a world brought alive with haunting evocations, memories, a childhood lost, and the joyful turned foul.
Time is relevant.

“Everyone knew our town was dying, long before we truly saw it. There’s a certain way a piece of fruit begins to wrinkle and soften, caves in on itself around the edges of a fast-appearing bruise, throwing off the sickly-sweet scent of decay and death that always attracts some creeping hungry thing. Some part of the town, an unused building sinking into its foundations, a forgotten alleyway erupting into a slow maelstrom of weeds and cracked stone, was succumbing, had festered, had succumbed: and now threw off the warning spores of its demise.”

“In hindsight, we should have been more vigilant, more aware that these were the places of a town where septicemia and putrification creep in first, those lonely and familiar sections we slipped into and through every day without concern or care—not the seedy crumbling but flashy edges where decay was expected, and, from a certain element of our small society, even accepted and encouraged. These quiet streets of lonely backwater districts, these were the places we never gave a single thought about, because we thought they would be here forever, unchanging in the antiseptic amber of our fixed memories. These quiet streets of lonely backwater districts were always the first to go.”

“And after a while, no one remembered what day it was, or what week, or whether the season was fall or winter or spring. It was all the same season, the same day. I woke up to the same ghostly, lifeless images on the television as the day before, dressed for a school day I wouldn’t recall going to by evening’s end, when I sat at my desk, looking through books and papers for homework I never found.”

“I’ve lived in this southernmost town for many lifetimes now, having lived in many other towns, each further south than the last. But all of the towns of this world have succumbed, as I knew they would, and there are no more towns beyond this one. There is nothing beyond this one, except the vast southern ocean, fields of ice, cold skies, colder stars. Here, winter is a diamond-hard fist, and summer an impossible dream. Or so it used to be, when I first made my way here, centuries or eons ago.”

“Everyone has known that the town is dying, long before we could see it.”


By Invisible Hands
by Simon Strantzas


“The puppet maker had forgotten far more about the art of creation than most had ever known, the slow leak of memories over the course of years. Some days, he no longer recognized himself in the mirror.?No one came for the puppet maker. No one cared for him. The only children he had ever bore hung on the wall of his basement, those ugly vessels for his love, with their large round heads and wrongly numbered wooden arms. He had sacrificed it all for them, sacrificed so he might bring wonderment to a public whose eyes grew increasingly duller the longer he performed for them, and at the end when no one seemed to notice or care about the art of bringing life to the lifeless, those bedeviled creations on his workshop wall did nothing but stare back at him unblinkingly, waiting for him to pass on. Unnoticed and alone.”

One feels for him, a great affinity, two souls joined, I have seen the same misery at times during pandemic in the mirror.

“Mr. L——:?I have need of your services. Please come at once.?—Toth”

Got one yesterday on my way!
There to be a summons to the great puppet maker Mr L, out of his hibernation he goes forth to the mysterious Dr. Toth, in his old age and demise maybe a lifeline extended, a calling answered, a metamorphosis ensuing, a trepidation mounting.?He becomes driven by a sourced hallucinogenea from nightmares.
Real and surreal collide hooking the reader forward into nightmarish realms with a crafted poise of words and the author’s wondrous imagination.

“The puppet maker’s hands were wizened. He stared at them, at the gnarled knuckles like cherry galls on goldenrod, at the wrinkled leather skin stretched and folded in on itself so many times it sagged. Those hands were filled with pain and loss and regret that radiated outward like an unbearable heat. His hands were all he had left. His hands, and his memories. But those memories faded from his mind, slipped into the dark of the misty quiet town like the sound of an automobile in the distance. He swallowed another handful of pills and hoped that this day might finally be his last.”
“And yet, its lifelessness was its beauty, its emptiness its perfection.”



After the Final by Richard Gavin

The seeking out of, who he is, darkness and secrets of underworld, the revered one he worships, an allegiance to a professor nobody.
There will be talk of plague and plague masks with experimentations, have things gone too far?
Interesting take on pupil and teacher and relationship of devote and the extreme one can go, laced with selective right words bringing alive the macabre.

“…I cannot help but wonder if you might return to your more decimated pupils, the ones you left behind on this shadow-encrusted planet.”

“Do you see how assimilated your teachings have become with me? Your “little lectures on supernatural horror,” as you somewhat dismissively called them, made me feel as though I had been granted admittance to the buried sphere from which I’d been wrongly banished, condemned to being born into this world.”



The Human Moth by Kaaron Warren

Eerie tale with a human moth, empathy for her dilemma, amongst other things unable to fly, you may think twice killing any moth. 



This will be part of my project Old & New



About Joseph S. Pulver Sr.


Joseph S. Pulver Sr. (July 5, 1955 – April 24, 2020) was an author and poet, much of whose work falls within the horror fiction, noir fiction / hardboiled, and dark fantasy genres. (from Wikipedia)

Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. was the author of the novels, The Orphan Palace and Nightmare’s Disciple, and he has written many short stories that have appeared in magazines and anthologies, including Ellen Datlow’s Year’s Best Horror, The Children of Old Leech, Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Book of Cthulhu, “Lovecraft eZine”. His highly-acclaimed short story collections, Blood Will Have Its Season, SIN & ashes, Portraits of Ruin, and A House of Hollow Wounds were published by Hippocampus Press. 

His work has been praised by Thomas Ligotti, Ellen Datlow, Laird Barron, S.T. Joshi, Michael Cisco, Jeff Thomas (PUNKTOWN), and many other notable writers and editors.

Joe has edited the anthologies, A Season in Carcosa, The Grimscribe’s Puppets (TGP won the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Edited Anthology), and Cassilda’s Song.

(from Amazon author page)


Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 02 April 2021