Spin a Black Yarn by Josh Malerman

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey

Date of publication: August 15th, 2023

Genre: Horror, Short Stories, Adult Fiction, Anthologies, Short Story Collection, Mystery, Science Fiction, Halloween, Paranormal

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Five harrowing novellas of horror and speculative fiction from the singular mind of the New York Times bestselling author of Bird Box

Josh Malerman is a master weaver of stories–and in this spine-chilling collection he spins five twisted tales from the shadows of the human soul:

A sister insists to her little brother that “Half the House Is Haunted” by a strange presence. But is it the house that’s haunted–or their childhoods?

In “Argyle,” a dying man confesses to homicides he never committed, and he reveals long-kept secrets far more sinister than murder.

A tourist takes the ultimate trip to outer space in “The Jupiter Drop,” but the real journey is into his own dark past.

In “Doug and Judy Buy the House Washer(TM),” a trendy married couple buys the latest home gadget only to find themselves trapped by their possessions, their history . . . and each other.

And in “Egorov,” a wealthy old cretin murders a young man, not knowing the victim was a triplet. The two surviving brothers stage a savage faux-haunting–playing the ghost of their slain brother–with the aim of driving the old murderer mad.

First Line:

Half the house is haunted, Robin. Don’t ask me which half!

Spin a Black Yarn (Half the House is Haunted) by Josh Malerman

I am not in the habit of reading and reviewing short stories. I find them hard to review. But I always end up with them on my review list. I may be trying to tell myself something; who knows?

Spin a Black Yarn is the second Josh Malerman book I have read. The first was Inspection a few years ago, and I did enjoy it. So, when I saw that this book of novellas was on Randon House’s NetGalley page as a Wish only, I decided to do just that (wish on it). And imagine my surprise when I got the email saying it was granted. I was thrilled, and I knew I would like this book (based on Inspection). I was right. This book was a fast read that kept me up after I ended it.

Spin a Black Yarn has five novellas in it. I will not do my usual storyline breakdown, angles, characters, etc. It would be too confusing and time-consuming. Instead, I will briefly explain the book and then say what I liked/disliked about it.

Half the House is Haunted: The novella follows two siblings that live in a huge house. The story is sectioned into three parts: 6 and 8, 40 and 42, and 80’s. In 6 and 8, Stephanie torments her younger brother by telling him half the house is haunted, but she isn’t sure what half. In 40 and 42, Robbie visits Stephanie, a recluse, and tries to figure out why she tormented him. In the 80’s, Stephanie dies, leaving Robbie the house and a letter. This storyline took a while to grow on me. I was confused at first by how it was written (Robbie and Stephanie told alternating paragraphs). But, once I figured that out, my confusion disappeared, and I was swept up in the story. I loved the moral behind this one (face your fears). I also liked that I couldn’t figure out whether Stephanie was lying.

Argyle: This novella centers on a dying man, Shawn, who starts to confess to murders that he almost committed on his deathbed. He is confessing to his two children, wife, best friend, and mother. He states that he didn’t kill only because of his best friend, a woman named Argyle, and his sister, Nora. At first, I thought that this story was a little silly, with a dying man confessing to almost murders. But as the story went on, I started to get chills. It was a good look into the human psyche and what makes a killer tick.

Doug and Judy Buy a House Washer: This novella centers around a couple who were the epitome of jerks. They buy a device that guarantees a thorough house wash. But, when they use it, the machine washes the house and brings up everything they have ever done, good and bad. This novella was my least favorite novella. Mainly because Doug and Judy were asshats, and the author did nothing to tone them down. The ending of this story was almost too good for them, and they deserved worse than what they got (they were genuinely vile people).

Jupiter Drop: This novella centers around a wealthy man eaten up by guilt over the death of a neighbor. So, he decides to journey to Jupiter to atone for that death. This novella was the saddest out of the bunch. The man was consumed with guilt over what happened, destroying everything in his life. This drop through Jupiter’s atmosphere (and core) was supposed to be healing. Instead, it went sideways. I would love to have done what he did (dropping through Jupiter’s atmosphere in a glass apartment). What the author wrote was beautiful. Except for the end. That was sad.

Egorov: This was my favorite novella. It centers around the murder of Mikhail, a triplet, and the search for his killer. Once the killer is found, Barat and Pavel (Mikhail’s brother) devise a dastardly plan to exact revenge. This story strongly reminded me of an Edgar Allen Poe story. From the language to how everything was laid out. It was also chilling, and I was kept on edge with what Barat and Pavel were doing.

I would recommend Spin a Black Yarn to anyone over 21. There are no sexual situations, but there is language and violence.

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey, NetGalley, and Josh Malerman for allowing me to read and review Spin a Black Yarn. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoy reading similar books to Spin a Black Yarn, then you will enjoy these books:

Other books by Josh Malerman: