A Natural History of Hell

A book of fantastic stories about the hell on earth that is living.

Emily Dickinson takes a carriage ride with Death. A couple are invited over to a neighbor’s daughter’s exorcism. A country witch with a sea-captain’s head in a glass globe intercedes on behalf of abused and abandoned children. In July of 1915, in Hardin County, Ohio, a boy sees ghosts. Explore contemporary natural history in a baker’s dozen of exhilarating visions.

New: Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy interview.

“In this collection of 13 stories, Ford showcases his award-winning talent for crafting creepy tales that bend the world as we know it in unexpected ways. Although the stories are not linked, they do share a common theme: wickedness lurking just beneath the surface of everyday life. And while each uses different degrees of the supernatural to get there, all employ a dark and uneasy atmosphere, quirky characters, and thought-provoking endings, with delightfully unsettling results. . . . This collection is a good choice for fans of short stories by Neil Gaiman, China Miéville, or Kevin Brockmeier.”
Booklist Online (starred review)

RT Book reviews

Publishers Weekly Best Books of Summer:
“Celebrated short-form fantasist Ford blends subtle psychological horror with a mix of literary history, folklore, and SF in this collection of 13 short stories, all focused on the struggles, sorrows, and terrors of daily life. Each tale gently twists perceptions, diving down into the ordinary and coming back out with a thoughtful nugget of the extraordinary. Readers will be alarmed by how easily they relate to the well-meaning but inevitably destructive characters.”

“Jeffrey Ford is probably writing your dreams. It’s the best way to describe his surreal style, which frequently relies on an internal structure and logic to convey images that teeter between odd fantasy and unsettling horror, while remaining impossibly grounded in a tangible reality. A Natural History of Hell (out in July) goes to some odd places, with genre-bending stories about artists trapped on a rocket ship, imaginary serial murderers, and God being torn apart by an angry mob, but it leaves plenty of room for beauty, however dark. It also contains one of my personal favorite stories from last year, “Word Doll,” in which children are lured into a world of make-believe. If you’re looking for something you haven’t seen before, look no further than these 13 stories.”
Standout stories: “A Rocket Ship to Hell,” “The Blameless”
Barnes & Noble: 7 Essential New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Short Story Collections

Table of Contents

The Blameless
Word Doll
The Angel Seems
Mount Chary Galore
A Natural History of Autumn
The Fairy Enterprise
The Thyme Fiend
The Last Triangle
Hibbler’s Minions
Rocket Ship to Hell
The Prelate’s Commission
A Terror
Blood Drive [audio]

Praise for Jeffrey Ford’s award-winning books:

“Outstanding. . . . Ford uses . . . incongruously lyrical phrases to infuse the everyday with a nebulous magic.”—Publishers Weekly, Best Books of the Year (Starred Review)

“For lovers of the weird and fantastic and lovers of great writing, this is a treasure trove of disturbing visions, new worlds and fully realized craft.”—Shelf Awareness (Starred Review)

“Properly creepy, but from time to time deliciously funny and heart-breakingly poignant, too.”—Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“Surreal, unsettling, and more than a little weird. Ford has a rare gift for evoking mood with just a few well-chosen words and for creating living, breathing characters with only a few lines of dialogue.” —Booklist

“Children are the original magic realists. The effects that novelists of a postmodern bent must strive for come naturally to the young, a truth given inventive realization in this wonderful quasi-mystery tale by Jeffrey Ford.” — Boston Globe on The Shadow Year

“Jeffrey Ford s latest triumph, The Shadow Year, is as haunting as it is humorous readers will recognize real talent in Ford s vivid, unerring voice.” —Louisville Courier Journal on The Shadow Year

“Superb, heartbreaking, and masterfully written . . . It s proof of Jeffrey Ford s narrative power that, ultimately, the distinction [between real and invented] doesn t much matter. His made-up world trumps ours.” — Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

The Shadow Year captures the totality of a lived period, its actualities and its dreams, its mundane essentials and its odd subjective imperatives; it is a work of episodic beauty and mercurial significance.”–Nick Gevers, Locus

“Jeffrey Ford is one of the few writers who uses wonder instead of ink in his pen.”— Jonathan Carroll, author of The Wooden Sea

“Unusual and provocative…sometimes shocking, sometimes mesmerizing, sometimes humorous, this collection will please fans of Raymond Carver and Flannery O’Connor. Recommended.” — School Library Journal on The Drowned Life

“Spooky and hypnotic…Recommended for all public libraries.” — Library Journal

“Ford travels deep into the wild country that is childhood in this novel …the observations and adventures of these sharp, wayward children provide more than enough depth to be satisfying.” — New York Times on The Shadow Year

“A collection of surreal, melancholy stories dealing with everything from worlds of the drifting dead to drunken tree parties. Ford is the author of the superlative, creepy Well-Built City trilogy and his writing is both powerful and disturbing in the best possible way.” — Gawker on The Drowned Life

“[Ford’s] writing is both powerful and disturbing in the best possible way.” — io9.com

“The 16 stories in this collection are a perfect introduction to Ford’s work and illustrate the vast range of his imagination . . . If you haven’t discovered Ford, it’s time you did. His carefully crafted novels and short stories are all top-notch. Grade: A.” — Rocky Mountain News

Cover illustration by Jeffrey Alan Love.

Jeffrey Ford was born on Long Island in New York State in 1955 and grew up in the town of West Islip. He studied fiction writing with John Gardner at S.U.N.Y Binghamton. He’s been a college English teacher of writing and literature for thirty years. He is the author of eight novels including The Girl in the Glass and four short story collections. He has received multiple World Fantasy and Shirley Jackson awards as well as the Nebula and Edgar awards among others. He lives with his wife Lynn in a century old farm house in a land of slow clouds and endless fields.


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