North American Lake Monsters by Nathan Ballingrud

North American Lake Monsters: Stories - Nathan Ballingrud

4.5 stars! A most excellent collection! 


I joined in the group read of this collection with the Literary Horror group over at Goodreads. I have always enjoyed reading a book with other people. Sometimes it enlightens me to aspects of the story I may have missed. Other times, it helps me to the view the story in a different light altogether.


In any case, this collection was superb. I was initially drawn to it due to Laird Barron's rave review. I won't go through each story separately, but these are the ones that I especially loved:


You Go Where it Takes You: A story about starting over again. I especially liked this quote which is in regards to a little girl named Gwen: 


"She's like a thousand different people right now, all waiting to be, and every time she makes a choice, one of those people goes away forever.  Until finally you run out of choices and you are whoever you are. She's afraid of what she'll lose by coming out to see me. Of who she'll never get to be."


Sunbleached: (My favorite tale in this collection.) A reminder that a Faustian deal never works out.


The Good Husband: A seriously sick and imaginative story that made me feel as if I were witnessing the events first hand.


This debut collection from Mr. Ballingrud won the Shirley Jackson Award and for good reason. Even the couple of tales that I did not enjoy as much were well written and imaginative. My only beef with it was that perhaps it's too dark of a collection, and for that I subtracted half a star. 


I highly recommend this collection to fans of seriously dark fiction, like that of Thomas Ligotti or Laird Barron.  I look forward to tracking down more of this author's work.