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Helen Marshall’s second fiction collection offers a series of twisted surrealities that explore the legacies we pass on to our children. A son seeks to reconnect with his father through a telescope that sees into the past. A young girl discovers what lies on the other side of her mother’s bellybutton. Death’s wife prepares herself for a very special funeral....

Title : Gifts For the One Who Comes After
Author :
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ISBN : 9781771483025
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 270 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Gifts For the One Who Comes After Reviews

  • Nicholas Kaufmann
    2019-01-17 14:13

    Marshall's second collection both fulfills and exceeds the promise of her first. The horrors are personal in these seventeen effective tales, and the fantastic elements are dark and disturbing. I've previously likened Marshall's work to Kelly Link's, and that kind of anything-goes, character-driven imagination is certainly still on display in these stories, but the analogy feels reductive to me now. Marshall is swiftly carving a style of fiction all her own -- deeply inspired by the likes of Link and Neil Gaiman and Robert Shearman, yes, but distinctly her own. This is a very strong collection, without a dud in the bunch. I'd be hard pressed to choose a favorite, but if I must I'd point to the collection's centerpiece novella, "Ship House," a weird tale about a haunted ancestral home in South Africa. The longest piece in the book, it gives Marshall the room to fully explore her characters and their situation, and leaves me itching to see what she could do with a full-length novel. Here's hoping she'll have one soon, because I'll be first in line to read it.

  • Aisling
    2019-01-10 18:11

    3.5 stars, really. This is a tough review to write. I'm struggling with rating the author on her writing ability (5, clearly) vs the topic (maybe 5 for some people but you'd have to be DEEPLY into out-there fantasy, it's a 2.5 for me) and balancing in the fact that these stories are all over the place. Some are terrific, some (as other reviewers have said) are almost impossible to get through (where was her editor?) and most are entertaining, well written but freaky weird. Having said that, I love Roald Dahl's macabre stories in Someone Like you and Kiss, Kiss so I'm not sure why these by Marshall were so much more unsettling. I think she lacks the warmth of Dahl. I have no idea if that helps anyone. If you like Dahl and think he's too cuddly, you'll probably love this book, if you like horror or creepy fantasy you'll love this book. For me it was an interesting break from my usual but I'm not picking up anymore by this author.

  • Emily
    2019-01-04 13:58

    Disturbing. Creepy. Haunting.The stories in this collection purport to explore the human condition by juxtaposing supernatural elements with ordinary interactions. Marshall succeeds in weaving compelling tales that frequently leave the reader breathless, wondering what just happened and what it means on a larger scale.Reading this was not always enjoyable, but it was fascinating, particularly the tale which relates to the cover image, a dead kitten with fish scales. If you like to be weirded out, but not in a cheesy (the call was coming from inside the house!) way , this book is for you. I'm interested enough to check out more work by this author.*I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher and NetGalley*

  • Seregil of Rhiminee
    2018-12-29 18:16

    Originally published at Risingshadow.I'm glad I had a chance to read and review Helen Marshall's Gifts for the One Who Comes After, because it's an excellent short story collection. I'm tempted to use the words "exceptionally good" when talking about it, because it was something different and contained well written stories.There are many readers and critics who have already praised Helen Marshall's stories. I also praise them, because it's almost impossible not to be impressed and moved by her odd stories. This is the first time I've read a collection by Helen Marshall, but it definitely won't be the last time, because I liked this collection very much. I intend to read all of the author's books as soon as possible.Helen Marshall's Gifts for the One Who Comes After is one of the best fantasy, dark fantasy, horror and new weird flavoured short story collections I've read to date, because it contains beautiful, moving, haunting, clever and disturbing stories that will linger on the reader's mind. The tender brutality and thrilling oddness of these stories is something to behold (this unique combination of tender brutality and oddness sets the author apart from all other similar authors).In my opinion, Helen Marshall is clearly one of the most talented new speculative fiction authors, because she dares to explore the human condition and the workings of a human mind in an intriguing way by adding supernatural elements to everyday life and making them part of the characters' lives so that the supernatural feels at times almost natural. Reading about how the characters live their lives and how they act to different situations is genuinely interesting.Gifts for the One Who Comes After contains the following stories:- The Hanging Game- Secondhand Magic- I'm the Lady of Good Times, She Said- Lessons in the Raising of Household Objects- All My Love, a Fishhook- In the Year of Omens- The Santa Claus Parade- The Zhanell Adler Brass Spyglass- Death and the Girl from Pi Delta Zeta- Crossroads and Gateways- Ship House- A Brief History of Science Fiction- Supply Limited, Act Now- We Ruin the Sky- In the Moonlight, the Skin of You- The Gallery of the Eliminated- The Slipway GreyAll the stories in this collection are good, but some of them are clearly better than others. Although I enjoyed certain stories more than others, I have nothing bad to say about any of these stories, because all of them are worth reading.At first these stories may appear to be simple, but they're anything but simple. These stories are surprisingly complex, because the author has constructed them in such a way that you'll gradually notice how much depth there is in them.Here's a few examples of what these stories have in store for the readers:"The Hanging Game" is a brilliantly chilling and unsettling story about a macabre children's game. The children have learned the game from their parents and thus the game is almost like a dark heritage that's passed on from generation to generation. (This story can be found online at tor.com.)"Secondhand Magic" is a fascinating and a bit different kind of a story about magic and a young magician whose magic trick goes wrong."I'm the Lady of Good Times, She Said" is fascinatingly strange story about a gun, Smiley, Carl and Juney."Lessons in the Raising of Household Object" is a good story about a tomato soup can and a child whose mother is pregnant."Supply Limited, Act Now" is a fantastic story about Larry and a miniature dog."The Zhanell Adler Brass Spyglass" is a well written story about Danny who tries to find out what went wrong with his parents' lives."The Gallery of the Eliminated" is an intriguing story about a young boy called Walter and a different kind of natural history exhibition. I found it interesting that the author wrote about extinction in a fluent way in this story.There's much more weirdness to be found on the pages of this short story collection, but I won't reveal more information about the stories. I'll only mention that I think readers will be glad to read these stories, because they're well written stories.Helen Marshall is an author who immediately manages to impress the reader. She easily captures the reader's imagination and lures him/her into a world of fascinating weirdness, because she views the world and life through a skewed lens. She uses weirdness in a bold yet subtle way, which is one of the reasons why her stories work so well.It's a bit difficult to describe these stories to readers who haven't read them, because they must be experienced personally to understand their subtle beauty and power. The author writes about life as it is and shows her readers what kind of joys and sorrows life brings to people: love, death, hope, darkness and wonders.The stories in this collection feature weirdness in different ways and they differ from other authors' weird stories. The author approaches weirdness in her own way by writing about how something unexpected or horrifying happens to the characters. There are many recurring themes in this collection. It was interesting for me to see how the author used recurring themes, but didn't repeat herself.It was fascinating to read about how the author wrote about families, parents and children. As all readers know, the relationships between family members are often complex and changes may happen in the family. In these stories the author shows how children feel about changes and how they react to new things. I've read many weird stories that feature children, but I've seldom read stories as good as these, because the author has a way of making the children behave in a believable way, because children can be quirky and are capable of reacting abruptly and even strangely to changes. For example, in "The Zhanell Adler Brass Spyglass" the author writes well about how Danny feels about his mother's male friend and decides to hate him.Helen Marshall manages to evoke feelings of loss, love, longing and terror in the reader. Depending on the reader's taste in weird stories and stories that contain supernatural elements, these stories will either fascinate or chill the reader (or perhaps they'll do both). For me, this is a sign of a quality author, because only talented authors are capable of causing this kind of an emotional response in the reader.I dare say that The Gifts for the One Who Comes After is one of the best collections of modern new weirdish stories published during the recent years, because it contains different kind of stories and has something for almost everybody. I think that this collection will please many readers and it will especially be of interest to readers who love the weirder side of speculative fiction.Helen Marshall has her own unique writing style, which reminds me a bit of Nathan Ballingrud's writing style. She is capable of writing the same kind of sad, bleak and unsettling stories as Nathan Ballingrud, but her stories are also strangely beautiful and moving and thus they differ from Ballingrud's stories.I have to mention that the illustrations by Chris Roberts look great and help to enhance the unsettling nature of the stories.Like many other short story collections which feature weird stories, The Gifts for the One Who Comes After may or may not be of interest to certain readers, because weird stories have a tendency to either fascinate or annoy readers, but all readers who like weird stories will most likely be impressed by this collection. It's possible that newcomers who aren't familiar with this kind of genre fiction will find this collection interesting, because it's an easily accessible collection.If you like weird and unsettling stories, The Gifts for the One Who Comes After is a must-read collection for you. In my opinion it's essential reading material for all who enjoy reading extraordinary stories.Highly recommended!

  • Daniel
    2018-12-24 14:01

    The disturbing cover of Marshall's second collection and its feature on i09.com made me eagerly seek this out and I quickly found that it was exactly the type of short fiction that I most enjoy, well written with a distinct shade of darkness. To call her stories dark and unsettling is accurate, but the supernatural and horrific elements of these stories provide an enshrouding tone for the basic character exploration beneath. By delving into a reality of human emotions rather than a focus on the odd aspects Marshall makes her stories graceful and stirring like the similar use of darkness by writers like Neil Gaiman, Karen Russell, or Shirley Jackson.There isn't a single story in this collection that I didn't enjoy and I now will have to go back and read her first collection from ChiZine, Hair Side, Flesh Side, which I expect should be equally as sublime and haunting as this. The stories making up Gifts for the One Who Comes After are mostly unified by character explorations around the theme of family: couples, parents, children. The frequent presence of children gives some of the stories an additional chill because of that sense (correct or not) revolving around the 'innocence' of childhood.The opening story "The Hanging Game" is one of my favorites in the collection, and it perfectly introduces the major theme of Gifts for the One Who Comes After. In this story, children play a grim and treacherous game that has passed down through the generations in their community, a twisted tradition of ritual. "The Hanging Game" was originally published at Tor.com, so I'd encourage you to go read it there for a great sense of what the rest of this collection is like.Disclaimer: I received a free advanced reading copy of this from ChiZine Publications via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  • Nancy Baker
    2019-01-07 14:54

    I read a number of these stories in early drafts. They were incredible and accomplished then and they're ever better here. Helen's writing is beautiful, unsettling, and evocative and the darkness in her stories comes not so much from their strangeness as their familiarity: we recognize the emotional ties of love, envy, fear and longing that drive the characters to their fates. Wonderful.

  • Max
    2019-01-05 14:54

    Review copy received through NetGalley.There are a number of recurring themes in Helen Marshall's new book of fantastically creepy short stories: blood debts, fraught intergenerational relationships, oldest children's anxieties about becoming siblings. The stories exploring these themes are profoundly odd, deeply unsettling, beautifully evocative, and superbly New Weird.

  • Timothy Jarvis
    2019-01-21 12:59

    Marshall’s powerfully disconcerting prose can switch from sentimental whimsy to disturbing grotesque in a single sentence. She baits her snares with believable, relatable characters and powerful affect, and the reader blunders into a tightening loop of the bizarre and dread.

  • Zach
    2019-01-13 21:06

    GIFTS FOR THE ONE WHO COMES AFTERWeird fiction stories about families, more in the modern dark surreal fantasy vein than horror, for the most part; very much in the Kelly Link school of quirkiness, to the point that one story (“Secondhand Magic”) almost felt like pastiche. Like Link (and most of the authors in YWBF2), the intrusion of weirdness is used here to trace out fractured interpersonal relationships rather than an anti-anthropocentric worldview/warning to the curious. These stories are uniformly well-written and -constructed, although the prose in the child-narrated stories was on the inconsistent side (when isn’t it?). Epistemology is an ongoing thread here, particularly that of children navigating between their own growing understandings and the guilt/place/legacies they have inherited from their parents. Toward the end I did wish for a bit more thematic variety (and, frankly, for more monsters), but that’s more my issue than Marshall’s. The best of her work, focused on children or not, is infused with a deep-seated sadness about time weighing on us all, marching from the cradle to the grave and tearing apart the relationships we manage to forge on the way.I greatly appreciated that a lot of her characters were less bourgeois than is the norm - while Marshall is an academic, she resists the urge to make her protagonists the same, which is a breath of fresh air (my impression is that maybe she got that out of her system with her first collection, which I haven’t read).By far my favorites here were “The Ship-House,” a haunted house story, and “We Ruin the Sky” which, with its Chicago setting, 2nd person voice, and unreliable narrator, seems to have been tailor-made for me. These two can be situated more easily than most of the others here as “horror,” although horror of a more complicated formal structure than most. Of the more fabulist stories, "The Zhanell Adler Brass Spyglass" and "In the Year of Omens," two different examinations of almost identical thematic territory, were also excellent.The Hanging GameThe titular game, a longstanding tradition among the children of a logging community, involves an aborted-at-the-last-minute hanging whose victim acts as an oracle for a local bear spirit. Our protagonist pays the blood price for her father’s antagonizing of the bears (“the things our parents leave us”). Weird as coming-of-age/menstruation through the generations. Secondhand MagicFrom the very first line (“A bad thing is going to happen at the end of this story”) we’re in Kelly Link territory, and since a book called “Magic for Beginners” is referenced on the second page, I think we’re supposed to know it. This story is about a kid who wants to be a magician and a pair of witchy sisters, so we get meditations on magic, and language, and, frankly, I’m not sure I followed what Marshall was trying to accomplish with this one.I’m the Lady of Good Times, She SaidA pair of Arizona hard luck cases, brother-in-laws, are driving out to the desert because the one caught the other cheating on his wife with a ghostly scream queen. Noirish and earthy. "The Lady of ____" is a recurring refrain.Lessons in the Raising of Household ObjectsA young girl worries about the arrival of her soon-to-be-born twin siblings. Convincingly lonesome as she becomes increasingly distrustful of her parents and fixated instead on a Campbell’s soup can as she descends into surreality.All My Love, A FishhookThe rocky relationships of three generations of fathers and sons in Greece and, again, the distrust of a new sibling/other family, this time also with the ocean and superstition and a mysterious statue. “This is the great fear of fatherhood. To know that love is a chancy thing.”In the Year of OmensA fourteen-year-old girl feels left out and alienated because her peers are all experiencing weird happenings (“omens”) and then dying. The weird as burgeoning adulthood, and sexuality, and the shift in the world after the death of a parent. Adults try to keep knowledge of these omens away from their children, unsuccessfully. The Santa Claus ParadeOne of the few stories here not concerned with family, although the protagonist is a teenager - here instead we’re focused on a boy working at a company that makes Santa Clauses in a vaguely dystopian setting, checking that all the Santa Clauses have both an anus and a beard.The Zhanell Adler Brass SpyglassA father gets his son the titular gift for his 12th birthday, who finds that he can use it to peer into the past. The two of them have moved across the street from their old apartment, where his mom still lives - so he charts out the family's pre-divorce life, trying to figure out what his mom did wrong to drive his father away (because it had to have been his mom's fault, right?). A thematic counterpart to "In the Year of Omens," also using adolescent lust to examine the growing divide between parents and children as the latter age into adulthood; this time also with a subtle critique of misogyny.Death and the Girl from Pi Delta ZetaA story of Death personified as a frat boy, playing off horror movie cliches involving sorority girls, seguing into a low-key meditation on aging and relationships.Crossroads and GatewaysAn outlier - a Yoruba/Swahili folktale of the desert Sasha and Zamani and a trickster god (Esu) and shapeshifting and man's love for a cheetah. Not a million miles off from Valente's Orphan Tales, what with the emphasis on the meaning of stories expressed through a fairy/folk tale/mythical framework.Ship HouseA woman visits her aging mother at her (haunted?) childhood home on Table Mountain in South Africa. Twins, we find out, run in the family, as does the theme of halves split in twain, and sacrifice among the women of the family, and the push to leave home struggling with the pull to stay. Like Gene Wolfe's (and, uh, Kelly Link's) best work, hints at much more going on than the actual narrative gives us, and demands to be re-read.A Brief History of Science FictionThree brief vignettes of a woman at 15, 34, and 74, having encounters (of various degrees of satisfaction) with various suitors - the last of whom is an alien.Supply Limited, Act NowCirca 1950, a trio of boys in "Shrinky Dink, USA" order a shrink ray and go on a rampage, driven by worry over an enlisted brother and resentment over their small-town surroundings and desperation and confusion over growing up. The former fourth member of their circle, who has left them behind by maturing into womanhood, is frustrated by their antics. We Ruin the SkyTold in the 2nd person by an omniscient-ish narrator, in a Chicago high-rise, a quietly despondent meditation on grief and marriage and aging (and numbers) set against the backdrop of a mysterious black hole. Rather Leiberish. A masterful story. In the Moonlight, the Skin of YouI was predisposed to dislike this one because of the title, and then I read it, and I didn't like it. Overly florid and fragmentary prose about a disappointing daughter and her hunter father (the mother is dead - again, the weird as the shift in the world after the death of a parent) and a folktale that says that if you kill a buck his wife comes to seduce you.The Gallery of the EliminatedAnother story about a kid anxious about the birth of a new sibling, this one involve zoos and monstrous births and extinction.The Slipway GreyThe surreal vision of a flying shark as the harbinger of death in South Africa, after a meditation learned in college goes wrong.

  • Derek Newman-Stille
    2019-01-18 17:05

    Helen Marshall's "Gifts for the One Who Comes After" is her love letter to storytelling. Marshall examines the way that we are shaped by the tales we tell ourselves and the stories that are told about us. She reminds the reader that we are made up as much of stories as we are of matter, and that they shape the way we think about ourselves and those who are around us.Marshall's exploration of stories is not a fairytale lens of joy, but rather an exploration of the potential for tales themselves to capture a quality of the grotesque, the terrifying horror that we can be shaped by words and ideas outside of ourselves. From capturing the horrifying perceptions of children, the dark, strange worlds they carry around in their heads to exploring the shifts that occur between our expectations of a story and their reality, "Gifts for the One Who Comes After" is a text of mythical magic, but not the easy, happy, uncomplicated myths of modernity, but the dark, deep, blood-soaked myths of the past. Her tales are not made to reassure, but to challenge our perceptions, to push the reader into those places where we try to bury our stories.Marshall focuses on children and the elderly, the people with most associate with either being shaped by tales or shaping us by telling tales to us. She examines the idea that the bonds between us are made of strings of words and occasionally these strings tighten around us like a noose. "Gifts" looks at the innocent games of youth and illustrates the nightmarish content of them from children prophesizing in the woods by bringing themselves close to death, to the dark undertone in the desire for magic, to the horrifying imagination of children, to the desire to stand out and be considered important. It looks at the aged in their desire for immortality by sharing stories, keeping memory alive, resisting forgetting and loss, the connection to tradition, and through the assumptions we create about the elderly.Stories are the methods used to imagine the future, reflect on the past, and explore the hidden corners of the present. Exploring the dark potential of the future through omens, dreams, and prophesy, the past through memory and collective tales, and the present through gossip and rumour, Marshall highlights the potential for stories to create a morae-like thread through time, weaving possibilities together in a nighmarish tangle of possibility.To read reviews of some of the short stories from this collection, visit my website at:http://speculatingcanada.ca/2014/11/2...http://speculatingcanada.ca/2014/11/1...https://speculatingcanada.wordpress.c...

  • Ryan Willox
    2019-01-02 14:04

    I read a lot of short stories and collections, or try to, and have never understood the apparent reluctance of publishers to put their faith in them nor readers to buy them. It's always seemed like myth to me that short-story collections don't sell, or appeal to readers. In short, I'm a fan; I love the medium. That said they tend to fall into two categories for me; 'short stories', or stories that are short. Stories that are short happen to be brief, to the point, relevant fragments of a greater narrative, snapshots of characters in a particular moment of importance on their journey. A story that is short, that happens to be short should grab you by both lapels, pull you in the alley and slap you around a little, should have a visceral and instant impact, should be as Stephen King once described like a passionate kiss. 'Gifts for the one who comes after' is none of these. It is a collection of 'short stories' - worthy, vague and portentous. These are 'short stories' of the type that writers are taught to write to fit some idealized version of the structure. They lack authenticity, or heart. Honestly, many of the stories in this collection are boring and predictable, which may be the greatest sins. Don't get me wrong, Marshall can write and the final story in the collection in particular in excellent. But there's not enough here and look; if you are a fan of 'short stories' then great; this might be for you. If you want to be moved, challenged or surprised I wouldn't have this near the top of your list, unfortunately.

  • Natalie Carey
    2019-01-18 15:57

    I received this ebook from Netgalley in exchange for review.3.5I enjoyed most of the stories included in this collection, but not all. I liked a lot of the ideas and themes running throughout, but I often felt myself struggling to keep reading and to stay engaged. I think I am just realizing, however, that short story collections just might not be for me. While Marshall does do a good job of composing captivating narratives in these short stories, crafting characters and plots that keep the reader invested in their stories, I think my disengagement was due to a personal preference for longer stories. The other thing that kept bothering me throughout the collection was how disjointed most of the stories were written. I understand how it can be used to the advantage of stories and to aid in how they unfold, but I felt as though it was used too frequently, and in the case of “In the Moonlight, the Skin of You,” for example, it disconnected me from the story so much I almost gave up on it. However, the stories were great, horrific, strange, and speak to the inner-workings of the human mind, and address the struggles we all think and worry about throughout our lives. They address some guttural fears we often have as children but learn to suppress as adults to get through daily life. Overall a good read, and I would definitely recommend.

  • Rowan MacBean
    2019-01-08 17:11

    I received GIFTS FOR THE ONE WHO COMES AFTER as an ARC through netgalley.com.3.5 STARSI really enjoyed this collection. It drew my attention on NetGalley with its strange cover art, and I requested it when I noticed it was a collection--short stories might be my favorite format. I was nervous about its inclusion in the category "New Weird," because sometimes I just don't get it, but I needn't have worried.GIFTS is a collection of eighteen stories of varying degrees of weirdness, only one or two of which almost lost me. (You really can't read this many stories and expect every single one to feel custom-made for you.) Most of the time the weirdness was ... comfortable. It didn't feel weird at all while reading; a real miniature dog and a real shrink ray purchased from ads on the backs of comic books felt natural, the way Helen Marshall wrote it. That is the kind of weird fiction I like. I think half the point of scifi and fantasy is to be able to lose yourself like that, and Marshall makes it easy.My favorite stories, I have to admit, were the two that made me cry. But I won't tell you which two. I hope you read them all without expectations and find something for you, even if they're not the ones that felt like they were for me.

  • Laura
    2019-01-03 20:55

    I'm totally ambivalent about this book. It's definitely very good quality writing, but I would call most of the stories horror rather than fantasy so it really wasn't what I expected or wanted. There are some horror stories an emotional newly pregnant lady really shouldn't read. :-/ So, on the one hand, I could definitely recommend it if you want well written, deeply disturbing nightmare fuel, but I didn't actually finish the book - my ebook loan from the library expired and I just kind of shrugged and went "eh, I guess that's over now."

  • Josef Hernandez
    2019-01-23 19:09

    Another very good short story collection from ChiZineFor a full review, please go to http://www.examiner.com/review/gifts-... and follow me on Twitter @josenher

  • Johann Thorsson
    2018-12-27 17:55

    Great collection of fantasy / horror short stories. One of the stories, Secondhand Magic, is my favorite short story of the year. Highly recommended for anyone who likes short fiction.

  • Andy
    2019-01-19 15:13

    This collection is different from many modern weird fiction collections I've tackled lately. These stories have the emotional punch of weird fiction by Nathan Ballingrud for example, but without being as brutal. There's variety here -- some stories feel like folktales, some are atmospheric and a few go further into more experimental bizzaro territory. Only a few stories here are what I would call horrific, and at the end of the book I wished there were more because in general I thought the horror-orientated stories were the most effective.In an interview Marshall says one theme tying all the stories together here is legacy, "it's about failure and responsibility, it's about inheritance." This is a good way to put it, these stories reflect on the complex dynamics within families and personal relationships, ripping the scab off of things that are painful to contemplate, or things which are not even thought of consciously.I'd call this reflective-speculative dark fiction. It often mingles Shirley Jackson-esque reflections on relationships with it's weird elements. Many of the stories are rather melancholy. This would be a good collection to read by a window in a long shaft of autumn sunlight.Certainly fiction like this can frustrate as much as it can fascinate and entertain. Personally I've read enough weird fiction that I just read carefully and see if it makes an impression. There's a couple of misses here, but most of these stories were memorable.The Hanging Game - Good story, this is a sort of haunting weird tale a bit like Nathan Ballingrud's or Clint Smith's, subtle, not horrific but certainly has an exciting and errie moment. A girl who lives in the deep woods describes the "hanging game" which the local children played which predicts the future, and leads to tragedy.Secondhand Magic - A really good story, Shirley Jackson-esque more emotional and in-depth than the first one. This story also has some twists and turns, leaving you wondering who to root for, ultimately you see there's not necessarily a clear-cut good or evil person in the story. I would have liked a bit more punch at the end. After a boy is "disappeared" by a local witch in a magic show he is putting on, the town tries to ignore it, but the woman's sister urges her to bring the boy back.I’m the Lady of Good Times, She Said - A more pulpy/masculine sort of story, hard, surreal with a twist ending. Among the least intriguing. A man is forced to drive into the desert by his crazy brother-in-law for cheating on his wife.Lessons in the Raising of Household Objects - A very funny story at times, but also a very sad one too. It's a quite effective weird tale with increasingly surreal imagery. A girl dreads the twins that her mother is about to give birth to -- and starts to suspect that they are leaving her mother's belly at night to steal her things and life away.All My Love, a Fishhook - This is one of the best in the first half of the book, it has a more dreamy atmospheric feel, almost like a folktale at times, it's certainly got a bit of a Lovecraftian Deep One's feel too. A definite theme of unspoken family issues is coming out of these stories which pull off the scabs of wounds which are usually ignored. The son of a fisherman tells of his father's obsession with a Poseidon statue, and worries his own son might be affected similarly.In the Year of Omens - This is an excellent story, one of the weirder ones, creepy and memorable. It has an apocalyptic feel and a theme of grotesque-as-beautiful. People start receiving strange omens, foretelling their deaths in horrible ways, yet one girl feels left out and wishes she could join in with the others.The Santa Claus Parade - Weird, brief vignette about a girl who works in a factory making Santa's, breaking the necks and throwing away the bad ones. The Zhanell Adler Brass Spyglass - Good story, certainly not a horror tale, but very effective for what it sets out to do. The theme here reminds me of M. R. James' story, "A View From a Hill" about a pair of binoculars which are able to peer into the past. In this story a young boy uses a telescope which can see into the past, to explore his own wounded family's history. Death and the Girl from Pi Delta Zeta - Interesting story, some people really liked this one but I thought it was a lesser one in the collection. A girl finds herself attracted to a guy in college everyone calls Death, because he's around when people die. Crossroads and Gateways - Excellent story in the folktale vein, Clark Ashton Smith came to mind at first, then Borges. A hunter and a trickster god wander the desert, telling stories, gradually tracking their way back in time.Ship House - The longest story in the collection by far at 14,000~ words and was my favorite. It's got a Gothic, bizzaro flair and a feminist one perhaps too. It deals with issues of aging, family and nostalgia for home, and what "home" means. A woman returns to her ancestral home where her aging mother lives alone, to confront old memories which have haunted her, and her ancestors.A Brief History of Science Fiction - The least interesting story I'd say, a little vignette on a woman's loneliness. Probably there's more to the story, but on a surface level it interested me so little I didn't care to puzzle it out. A woman recounts an uneasy date with a boy, later her marriage, ruined by a car crash, and finally a visit from aliens.Supply Limited, Act Now - This was an excellent story, full of Bradbury-esque, small town, summertime nostalgia about a group of boys who get their hands on a shrink ray gun and go around town shrinking everything in sight. The more mature among them try to make them stop.We Ruin the Sky - This reminds me a little of "The Music of Erich Zann" -- read it and you'll see why! A very surreal, hallucinogenic story, one of the strangest in the collection about a woman who sits in her high rise apartment and reflects on her rocky, passionless marriage, all while being drawn to her death by a force at the window.In the Moonlight, the Skin of You - One of the better stories here, a weird one told from the perspective of a young girl living in a logging camp where there are some odd goings on. Effective for what is suggested, hinted at but not shown.The Gallery of the Eliminated - This was one of the weirdest, horrific, and I thought, most inventive in the collection, very emotional and memorable. After Walter's mother has a miscarriage his father takes him to a very grotesque zoo.The Slipway Grey - This story ends the collection on a more optimistic note, once again in folktale territory here. In Africa an elder tells children how he has barely escaped death several times, but that he no longer fears it, but sees it as a part of life.

  • Bruce Gargoyle
    2019-01-13 21:02

    I received a digital copy of this title from the publishers via Netgalley.Ten Second Synopsis:A collection of short stories featuring the harmlessly odd, the charmingly quirky and the gut-wrenchingly bizarre.Wow, what a strange little collection of stories. Admittedly, most of them were slightly too weird for my taste, preferring as I do the charmingly quirky to the gut-wrenchingly bizarre. This is certainly a collection that will take the mind to strange new places (welcome or not!). The opening story, featuring a remarkably dangerous hanging game played by a group of neighbourhood kids with deadly and far-reaching results, sets the tone for the rest of the tales and admittedly, it was a little too dark for my tastes. There was nothing wrong with the writing mind, just the level of creepiness and that's a personal preference. My standout favourite story featured a young magician and his act that goes spectacularly wrong. This one started off charmingly quirky and humorous before sliding into darker waters. Overall though, this story didn't seem to be as unsettling as the others in the collection.I would recommend this book for those lovers of short stories who relish a bit of horror of the creeping, unseen, psychological variety. Gifts for the One Who Comes After has this in spades.

  • Bill Hsu
    2019-01-22 13:16

    I thought this was a bit uneven compared with Marshall's earlier collection Hair Side, Flesh Side. There are gems here, like the intense rural magic realism of "The Hanging Game", the sly "Secondhand Magic" (with maybe a reference to Kelly Link's Magic for Beginners? the tone is quite Link-esque), and the marvelously awkward and disquieting "In the Year of Omens". But quite a few of the pieces (especially the previously unpublished ones, I note) don't quite work for me. There's no shortage of good ideas, like the zoo of extinct creatures in "The Gallery of the Eliminated". But I often find the strands not weaving together for me, despite my preference for open narratives. I love the design of some of these Chizine books though; such a pleasure to hold and enjoy.

  • Molly Ison
    2019-01-11 12:51

    A strong start but the stories got increasingly less interesting. I don't require a twist or a really gut wrenching ending, but felt that many of the later stories build a good atmosphere -a little weird, a little unsettling - but then kind of taper off, get too vague. Unsettling is a good descriptor, but eating too much steak is also an unsettling experience without a particularly memorable ending.

  • Elizabeth Brenner
    2019-01-16 17:52

    I can't get Ship House out of my head. This collection is the best kind of creepy, stuns then lingers.

  • K.H. Vaughan
    2018-12-24 21:11

    Some really remarkable work by a wonderful writer. Strong voice, vivid stories. Includes some of the best short weird fiction I've read in recent memory. Highly recommended.

  • Andy
    2019-01-19 19:01

    I'm typically a novel reader, but this summer I've pushed myself to dive into more short stories. This is a great collection of unnerving and provocative stories that combine soft and flowing miasma with edges both sharp and rough.

  • Korey
    2018-12-23 15:56

    Mixed results. Some stories are just amazing. Some are profoundly weird. All are interesting.

  • Ross
    2019-01-09 13:04

    Surreal and bizarre, these short stories plumb the depths of loss, family, and relationships. Favorites include: "The Hanging Game", "The Santa Claus Parade", and "We Ruin the Sky".

  • Eduardo
    2018-12-27 13:58

    Originally published in Charmful Dead ThingsLast month, while walking around the Horror Headquarters at the FanExpo here in Toronto, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a neatly decorated booth full of books. What first caught my attention was the impressive artwork on the covers and as I browsed the table and started reading the snippets on the back covers I realized I was in the right place. Most books were horror, sci-fi and dark fantasy which are the most riveting genres of books and, of course, my personal favourites.Myself and the guy at the booth got to talking and it turned out that he’s the co-owner/publisher, Brett Savory, who along with his wife Sandra Kasturi, runs the whole ChiZine Imprint. I spent about half an hour there conversing about the books and the cover art and he gave me some great book recommendations. By the end, I left ChiZine Publications’ booth with 10 books and a smile on my face. The funny thing: I was at the Expo to get comics…Helen Marshall’s Gifts for the One Who Comes After was one of them. A collection of stories that turned out to be like chapters from Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone filtered through the lens of David Lynch. These tales are full of dream-like logic and surrealism. Marshall handles ambiguity like a master, she keeps you engaged even while you’re not really sure of what’s happening. These are the kind of stories that stay with you long after you finish reading them.Every story here shines, they all range from very good to great. I don’t recall enjoying prose so much in quite some time and Marshall’s fiction is reminiscent of Clive Barker’s Books of Blood, not that the prose is similar to Barker’s in structure, but in flow and richness. She does the kind of writing where the words on the page are as important as the events happening within.To do a story-by-story summary would just ruin the experience, but I do want to mention some of the stories in Gifts for the One Who Comes After that stood out for me. ‘Secondhand Magic’ plays like an origin story for a comic book villain where a kid magician disappears into a top-hat and comes back as something powerful and maybe not entirely human. ‘The Zhanell Adler Brass Spyglass’ is wonderful, with its telescope that can look back in time, it could have a whole novel or set of stories come out from it, I’d love to know more about how it operates and its implications. “Supply Limited, Act Now’ is a beautiful coming of age tale that channels The Outer Limits where a group of kids get their hands on a mail order shrink-ray that turns out to be real. Finally “We Ruin the Sky” was fantastic as it had some of the most alluring passages in the book and I was constantly stopping while reading to reflect.The horrors within these stories are not supernatural — not that I don’t appreciate those when they are present — but on Gifts for the One Who Comes After they are more real, more familiar. Like your father not loving you, being alone, leaving childhood behind, or simply, never really knowing someone that is in your life. Every story is a delight to discover, from the way Marshall plants a seed of expectation on the first paragraphs to the way she nurtures it to grow until their conclusion.I must also give credit to ChiZine for the amazing edition, because they went all out. Besides the attractive cover done by Erik Mohr, there’s seventeen impressive illustrations, done by artist Chris Roberts of Dead Clown Art, that accompany every story.As you may have inferred by now, I have nothing but good things to say about Gifts for the One Who Comes After and Helen Marshall, so much so that when I went to the Word on the Street Festival two weeks ago I specifically visited ChiZine’s booth to get Marshall’s previous short stories collection: Hair Side, Flesh Side. Right now, it’s waiting in my to-read pile, which as any bookworm knows grows exponentially faster than the available free time to read, but the books there are always changing order so I’m sure I’ll be opening its pages sooner rather than later.

  • Andrew
    2018-12-24 20:49

    I had high hopes for this collection of seventeen short stories. From online buzz, Helen Marshall appears to be an interesting writer trying to do things a little differently. In some respects I wasn't disappointed: there are some solid tales here. However, despite the quirky weirdness and the unxeplained and unexplainable, the stories feel quite samey in the telling. They might be a little different from other work currently being published, but they're not that different within themselves. Because of this I needed to read these in short bursts so that they didn't blend together; occasionally I skipped.Many of the pieces could be classed as fables, with hereditary back stories concerning familiar American Gothic vibes. Most are set in the present day, albeit with magical nuances which exist for story but not in reality. Like most fantasists, it is the way these abberations resonate with her characters where Marshall has her interests. Each story contains metaphors for our existence and feelings. Sometimes I needed more than metaphor.Probably my favourites were "In The Year Of Omens" where teenagers are desperate to find themselves flawed as opposed having those perfection urges that we currently hold dear to us, and "A Brief History Of Science Fiction" which was excellent and resonated deeply with me.Those I skipped included "Crossroads and Gateways" and "Ship House" as they just weren't to my taste. If you're familiar with the book you can probably see my bias.Overall, well worth picking up. Like many story collections it is a mixed bag, although I think I liked it less because it was a little too consistent.

  • Sophie
    2018-12-26 15:11

    3.5/5"Gifts For The One Who Comes After" is a collection of surreal, magical, fantastical horror short-stories. Centered around the themes of relationships and family bonds, it contains my now favourite short story of all time, "Secondhand Magic", in which a young, shy, innocent boy tries his hand at magic until he disappears, leaving behind a desperate mother and grieving community.Other favourites were:- "The Hanging Game" in which a dangerous game is passed onto young children of each new generation- "In The Year Of Omens" in which death catches up to teenagers with a special mark on their skin- "The Zhanell Adler Brass Spyglass" in which a boy is gifted a special spyglass that shows the past and not the present- "Ship House", a story that defies any summary, but let's just say there's a haunted house and a disfunctional family at play- "Supply Limited, Act Now" in which a group of friends use an actual shrink ray on their town- The Gallery Of The Eliminated" in which a father takes his young son to a very special zoo after tragedy struck their familyOn the other hand, there was also a short stoy in here, that I completely skipped, because it was soooo not my thing. It reminded me of the stuff Paul Coelho publishes and I really, really hate his style. In fact, most stories were dark and weird as hell, creating a moody, new-gothic atmosphere. Others were a far too surrealistic for my tastes, so I have quite a bit of mixed feelings about this one.

  • Lianne
    2019-01-07 16:04

    I won an eCopy of this collection from the publishers via Twitter. This review in its entirety was originally posted at caffeinatedlife.net: http://www.caffeinatedlife.net/blog/2...Gifts for the One Who Comes After is an interesting mix of stories. They can be eerie, disturbing, and haunting, but a central theme that brings all of these stories together is that they feature the subject of family and the interpersonal relationships, whether it be with a lover or a friend or a community. A lot of the stories also feature themes of life, making decisions and sticking to them, anxieties about growing up and new family members coming along, etc.Intermingled with these stories are elements of magic and the weird featured with the everyday. As a result, it makes the former feel like an everyday occurrence of the world a particular story takes place in, which is very interesting. As expected from a collection featuring “the weird”, there’s also a lot of grimness and death. Some scenarios may disturb readers.Like any other short story collection, there were some stories that intrigued me more than others. I would recommend this short story collection for readers of short stories, and readers of horror, fantasy, science fiction, and the new weird. Oh, and if you’re looking for a haunting read close to Hallowe’en ;)Rating: 3.5/5

  • Claudia Piña
    2019-01-16 13:04

    Últimamente he estado leyendo mucho new weird y a veces es hasta que le cuento a alguien de qué se trata lo que leo que me doy cuenta de lo extraño que es el género. Culpo a los VanderMeer por arrastrarme a este rincón literario. Y les agradezco, porque este tipo de libros son una delicia de leer. Había leído uno de los cuentos de esta colección (The Hanging Game) y la coleccción previa de Marshall: Hair Side, Flesh Side, que también me gustó mucho. Pero he de decir que éste libro es bastante mejor.Esta colección de cuentos es una joya en el new weird, y lo digo como fan de Jeffrey Ford, Kelly Link o los mismos VanderMeer. Todas las historias me gustaron mucho. Son oscuras, extrañas, divertidas y muy emotivas. Hay un excelente equilibrio entre los elementos "diferentes" y los que nos hacen reconocernos a nosotros mismos en los personajes. Hay más profundidad detrás del significado obvio. La selección de temas me gustó mucho y hay una muy buena cohesión entre las historias que permite establecer conexiones y reflexionar sobre ellas.Barrirecomendación (si les gusta el new weird, o les llama la atención)