Book Review: North American Lake Monsters: Stories by Nathan Ballingrud

16057298Title: North American Lake Monsters: Stories

Author: Nathan Ballingrud

Genre: Short Stories, Horror, Fiction, Fantasy, Weird Fiction, Magical Realism, Anthologies, Supernatural, Literary Fiction

Publisher: Small Beer Press

Published: July 16, 2013

Page Amount: 300 pages

Blurb From Goodreads: Nathan Ballingrud’s Shirley Jackson Award winning debut collection is a shattering and luminous experience not to be missed by those who love to explore the darker parts of the human psyche. Monsters, real and imagined, external and internal, are the subject. They are us and we are them and Ballingrud’s intense focus makes these stories incredibly intense and irresistible.

These are love stories. And also monster stories. Sometimes these are monsters in their traditional guises, sometimes they wear the faces of parents, lovers, or ourselves. The often working-class people in these stories are driven to extremes by love. Sometimes, they are ruined; sometimes redeemed. All are faced with the loneliest corners of themselves and strive to find an escape.

Why Read: Somehow I never read anthologies. I have actually nothing against them, it’s just usually not my normal read. This year, though, I’ve made a conscious effort to branch out. I want to read different books, to see different parts of genres- and well, short stories are one of those.

Review: There’s something seriously addictive about monster stories. The supernatural and things that cannot be easily explained frighten us and they are the things that come to haunt us during the night. If you aren’t into those types of stories… yeah, I wouldn’t recommend this book. The tales are creepy and I found myself disturbed as I tried to create a balance between work and leisure Audible listening. Did I mention this book was an audio read for me? Spoiler Alert: It’s disturbing as HELL and well probably continue to haunt my daily thoughts by damn, it’s good.

With short story collections, I can’t really speak to character development or full plot summaries without giving away the ending of sorts. But I can (and will) tell you about how it is written and why I loved it so much. The style of North American Lake Monsters is old America. Old, falling-apart, and trashy America. Jailed husbands, trailer park and bankrupt America. It’s not a place I’m personally familiar with but I found myself entranced by this place where I’m from but I haven’t had to experience. Ballingrud has an entrancing and enthralling voice that really comes through in every story and even though each story has a unique perspective – as the reader, you can immediately know that it’s him.

I absolutely adore this book. The plots are creepy, the characters everyday representations of normal people, and the twists- creepy and spine-crawlingly disturbing. I recommend this for anyone who wants to have a little scare or a moment of adrenaline. Seriously, short stories are fun and a new thing for me (thank goodness!). Luckily, I already love them! Thanks for that, Nathan Ballingrud! I can’t see myself moving to any sort of family drama short stories soon, but give me all of the horror! Recommend, please read!

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Amy Deringer Robinson says:

    What an awesome concept for an anthology! The cover caught my eye as I was scrolling through book reviews. Thank you for sharing, I’ve added it to my list!

    1. Gabriella says:

      It is such an incredible read, gave me chills all day long. I’m glad you’re planning on picking it up 🙂

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