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Dark Gods [Paperback]

T.E.D. Klein
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 259 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Books (9 Jan 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330297147
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330297141
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 11.2 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 171,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A bloody masterpeice. 13 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It creeps up on you.
One of the finest books in the horror genre - In fact any field.
Wish Ted was more prolific.
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Promising tales that fail to deliver 21 Aug 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Since reading Dark Gods and Klein's novel The Ceremonies a dozen years or so ago, I had built up a legend of Klein's amazing talent and horror writing prowess in my head, fueled in part by this author's virtual disappearance from the world of publishing since the mid-1980s. I especially hailed this collection of four novellas as examples of unparalleled, Lovecraft-infused marvels of horror. Having now reread Dark Gods, I have to wonder just what I was thinking about years ago. Klein is definitely a talented author, but each of these novellas is disappointing in its own way. Children of the Kingdom has its moments, building up a story with giant worm-like entities insinuating themselves into a senior adult facility in New York, introducing us to a single-minded Costa Rican man attempting to prove that the birthplace of man was actually in Costa Rica and, tossing tradition upon its head, arguing that the lost tribe of Israel was in point of fact a lost tribe of Costa Rica. The ending, though, is just too ambiguous to be wholly satisfying - this is a problem that repeats itself in the remaining tales. Petey forces us to endure a smarmy dinner party, tossing in occasional insinuations about the former owner of the house; the best it manages to produce are some trivial parlor tricks with a certain Tarot card, refusing in the end to even acknowledge the type of denouement which the reader necessarily anticipates.
Black Man With a Horn is much better than the previous two novellas, introducing us to a failed missionary returning home in disguise in fear of something unspeakable happening to him.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Darkest Imaginings 2 Feb 2000
By Clifford H. Low - Published on
Simply put, this book is one of the best collections of horror fiction written in the latter half of the 20th Century. Similar to the work of H.P.Lovecraft thematically, but with very strong characterization, striking imagery, and contemporary themes; Klein tears aside the world of (frequently humorous) mundane existence, to reveal a landscape peopled by terrible monsters. In the award-winning "Children of the Kingdom" the sewers and ghettos of Manhattan conceal a race of faceless mutants connected to the Gnostic Gospels and MesoAmerican lore. In "Black Man With a Horn" an aging Lovecraft protege discovers that some of the old gent's tales might not be fiction after all. But possibly the best of all is "Nadelman's God" where an ad man becomes a most unlikely and unwilling prophet for a divinity of slaughter and cruelty. Dark, witty, and frequently profound.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, atmospheric and beautifully written (Spoiler Alert!) 4 Mar 2004
By A Customer - Published on
I must disagree with the reviewer who found these four novellas weak. Of course, I should clarify my criteria for rating such works: I am not a big fan of the graphic, bloody, "modern" horror fiction: I have reservations about Stephen King (I think my favorite work of his is his novella "The Mist" -- though bloody, it is not gratuitously so-- and in it he is not as callous with his characters as in his novels) -- and most other popular modern horror writers. I think the finest horror fiction is, almost by definition, shorter: horror must extablish a pervading and insistent atmosphere of dread -- carefully built up and cumulative. This is difficult to sustain over novel-length works and shock is employed rather too lavishly to compensate. For the type of horror I rank highly, think Shirley Jackson, Lovecraft, Blackwood, Leiber (in his rare but brilliant forays into the genre). Well, in my opinion, Klein is, simply, one of their peers. The four works in this collection are all excellent. Even the weakest ("Petey") is interesting and beautifully written. The other three are all, in my estimation, masterworks of modern horror. "Children of the Kingdom" is more than that other reviewer indicates: it builds up the notion that there is a terrifying subterranean world that is on the move, spreading, actively looking to usurp our position in the world (the creatures, who do far more than just invade an old folks' home, are called in Costa Rican folklore "usurpadores" -- usurpers. The citywide blackout pictured in NYC is, by implication, caused by them -- and in the darkness they run rampant, all over New York, raping women by the hundreds (the only way they can reproduce).) The final vignette at the sewer grating is chilling: and implies (or did so to me, at least) that WE can be corrupted into THEM. "Black Man with a Horn" is a Lovecraftian tribute that never descends into pastiche; its subtle accretion of evidence for the pursuing terror is masterly. H.P. himself would have heartily approved. One has to applaud the variety of outlooks Klein employs, as well: "Petey" and "Nadelman" are third-person narratives; in "Kingdom" the first person narrator is a young married Jewish man; in "Black Man" it is an elderly horror author who was a friend of Lovecraft. And the references to Lovecraft are totally pertinent. He dealt with parallel themes. In Klein's novellas, the notion of horror lurking hidden in remote places (and implacable in its pursuit of trespassers into its realm) is a fine counterpoise to that of horror lurking beneath the surface of our everyday world in "Kingdom". The final story is quite the equal of the other two just mentioned: "Nadelman's God" tackles the notion that sometimes things we do or say can have terrifying consequences, however innocently they may have been done or uttered. It also tackles the Lovecraftian idea that the universe is indifferent at best, hostile at worst, to the lives of mere humans. In the midst is Nadelman himself, somewhat smug, supremely jaded, finding out the error of his assumptions. All told, these three tales ("Kingdom", "Black Man" and "Nadelman") garnered a passel of awards, and rightly so: they have taken classic Horror into the everyday world of the late 20th (and early 21st!) Century. They cannot be recommended highly enough! They will not please those of a jejune temperament, perhaps, but for thoughtful and literate readers, they will be a joy.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Tracking Down 6 July 2000
By Shamus Macgillicuddy - Published on
Most people who approach H.P. Lovecraft's peculiar genre of "weird fiction" do it in a way owing more to imitation than invention--such that modern Cthulhu Mythos tales have the sycophantic feel of fan fiction.
T.E.D. Klein, on the other hand, really twists those familiar themes about angry gods and forgotten races into new shapes. Here, Upper East Siders in the seventies contend with subterranean beasts during a blackout. A creature raised from hell upsets a house-warming party. A terrible poet accidentally writes a conjuring spell.
And what's more, it's scary--Klein understands how to make the juxtaposition between the familiar and the fantastic, more often mined for humor and irony, into something pretty unsettling.
This book is a lost classic.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth seeking out! 7 May 2000
By "madamebovary" - Published on
T.E.D Klien doesn't seem to haven't written much but whathe has written is brilliant. I guess its only his sparse output that prevents him being one of the best-known horror writers of moment. Dark Gods is a set of four equally novellas, my favourite being the one about a housewarming party that goes badly wrong (the title escapes me) but they're all equally good.
Unlike other tediously formulaic horror writers (step forward Koontz, Saul, Laymon etc) this author does not rely on stereotypes and overblown descriptions of nastiness to cause chills.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Forgotten Gem 6 Jan 2010
By Gary Griffiths - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
T.E.D. Klein's "Dark Gods" is a collection of four novellas, arguably horror, but probably not the kind that will make you regret reading them at home alone at night. Instead, expect in all four Klein's very-New York urban suspense, intelligent and sophisticated supernatural yarns that will keep you guessing as you flip the pages. Like the true masters of horror, Klein realizes that terror peaks when trickled out gradually in seemingly innocent, benign, and innocent surroundings. A deteriorating nursing home on New York's West side, a Connecticut country estate, an intercontinental airliner, or even from the pages of a long forgotten college poem. Unlike run-of-the-mill slash-and-scream horror fiction - the written equivalent of "Nightmare on Elm Street" - Klein takes as much pain developing credible characters and rich backgrounds as he does creating tension and the requisite fear factor, while leaving enough ambiguity to leave the reader hanging just enough to insure the stories will gnaw the edges of your conscious long after lesser stores have been forgotten.

The quality and grip of each is consistent and superb, but if I had to pick a favorit, it would be the longest and the last: "Nadelman's God" - a creepy story about a middle aged New Yorker's literary creation that comes back to haunt him. Complete with a gritty Long Island decaying neighborhood and a 30-year old loser living with his mother, Klein spins a well-drawn harrowing tale of imagination manifested.

"The Black Man with a Horn" matches an aging science fiction writer and one time pal of H.P. Lovecraft against a demonic Pacific Island legend. In "Petey", Klein escapes New York's Burroughs, but not too far, choosing the newly and perhaps shadily acquired owners of an aging but magnificent Connecticut manor with dark forces with unusual appetites while foreshadowing with a deck of Tarot cards. And "Children of the Kingdom" makes the unlikely but successful connection between an early race of South Americans with the tunnels and sewers flowing beneath Manhattan.

In short, Klein's talents as a top-notch storyteller are on display in this lost gem of contemporary dark fiction written by this once rapidly rising author, who seemed to drop down a sewer hole of his own shortly after this mid-80s release. Good reading to burn hours on a long flight or a cold and rainy evening.
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