Book Review – The Nightmare Factory by Thomas Ligotti

★★★★★ 5 Stars

Genre: Horror / Short Stories
Publication Date: June 27th, 1996
Publisher: Carroll & Graf

The Nightmare Factory is not a collection but a labyrinth – a bio-synthetic organism that in the dusk appears to be a smokestack, breathing onto the sky’s canvas its knowledge of unimaginable nightmares which take no form, and by the dawn you can see it was never actually there at all.

A rich, seething collection of stories that bottles its nightmares to poison you with them gradually. Ligotti’s language breeds black, galactic neurons on the surface of your mind. They can be slow-going but nonetheless as intense as the worst dream you’ve ever had. It’s a collective congealment of all primal and irrational fears – disease, death, becoming a stranger even to yourself, a sight so terrifying it is an instant sentence to Hell. Mad, perplexing paintings of phrase rather than image, from the abyssal no-man’s-land of the psyche.

The Nightmare Factory is a massive best-of album compiling Ligotti’s stories from his first collection, Songs of a Dead Dreamer up to the first half of Teatro Grottesco. There are no bad or even very mediocre stories in the entire lot, period. I shan’t even bother to review each section specifically, as they are all horrifically brilliant, but in marginally different ways.

Though in particular, I loved the Teatro Grottesco section at the end, where all of my favourite ones lurked. “Gas Station Carnivals”, “The Bungalow House” and the eponymous “Teatro Grottesco” are amongst the most deeply unnerving and artistically inspiring (very ironic given their nature, you’ll see) pieces I’ve ever read.

Perfect – 5/5

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