Book Review: The Corn Maiden – Joyce Carol Oates

Title: The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares
Author: Joyce Carol Oates
ISBN: 9780802126023
Pages: 264
Release Date: November 1, 2011
Publisher: Mysterious Press
Genre: Short Stories, Literary Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

Joyce Carol Oates once again proves herself to be a master storyteller in these six stories of suspense, horror, and thrills.

Review:

While I’m not usually a fan of short stories, I have found that Joyce Carol Oates’ collections are not to be missed.  She has the ability to craft an entire novel’s worth of description, exposition, and character development in just a few pages, and it’s absolutely marvelous to witness.  Therefore, when I discovered she had a new collection of suspense tales releasing from Mysterious Press, I was eager to get my hands on The Corn Maiden.

The titular story is the most memorable one, mostly because it takes up almost half the book’s length.  It is a novella, rather than a short story.  The Corn Maiden tells the story of an eleven-year-old girl named Marissa, who is taken by Jude, an older girl who believes Marissa must be sacrificed according to an old legend.  Her mother Leah has her own demons to face as she frantically searches for her daughter.  Mothers will find this story especially disturbing, as readers can feel Leah’s fear and regret.  “If only…” she says, thinking she may have been able to prevent Marissa’s disappearance if she had done something differently. 

Like The Corn Maiden, all the stories in this collection are impeccably plotted and precisely written.  Oates wields her pen like a razor, cutting and slashing as necessary in order to convey the horrors of a man visited by a vengeful girl or a twin appalled by his identical brother.  Each of these tales is suspenseful and keeps the reader hooked from beginning to end.  They all have a sense of dread surrounding them, and Oates writes their atmospheres perfectly.  This is the perfect chilling read for the Halloween season of monsters and frights.

There’s a reason Joyce Carol Oates is considered one of the masters of the short story form, and every one of them is on display in The Corn Maiden.  It’s a well curated collection of mysterious and thrilling stories that readers will want to read from beginning to end.  If you’re in the mood for chills, but don’t feel like committing to an entire book, this is definitely a great choice.

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Comments

  1. Wow! I haven’t been much of an Oates fan or a short story fan, but now I want to read this collection. Convincing review!

  2. Wow! I haven’t been much of an Oates fan or a short story fan, but now I want to read this collection. Convincing review!

  3. As a fan of the horror genre, short stories and Joyce Carol Oates…this as got “must read” all over it.

  4. As a fan of the horror genre, short stories and Joyce Carol Oates…this as got “must read” all over it.

  5. I definitely want to read this one. I’ve waited far too long. I’m laughing though because it is October 31, right? And I already am accumulating a list for next year’s RIP! Figures!

  6. I definitely want to read this one. I’ve waited far too long. I’m laughing though because it is October 31, right? And I already am accumulating a list for next year’s RIP! Figures!

  7. I have this one and I am excited to read it. I don’t usually go for short stories but I love JCO.

  8. I have this one and I am excited to read it. I don’t usually go for short stories but I love JCO.

  9. Your review hooked me!

  10. Your review hooked me!

  11. Oh, this is one that I need to read, and I am not going to be bound by the fact that Halloween is almost over. I love scary stories in the short form, and it sounds like this collection is excellent. I loved your review and am going right over to add this one to my list. It sounds wonderful, and creepy! Happy Halloween, Swapna!

  12. Oh, this is one that I need to read, and I am not going to be bound by the fact that Halloween is almost over. I love scary stories in the short form, and it sounds like this collection is excellent. I loved your review and am going right over to add this one to my list. It sounds wonderful, and creepy! Happy Halloween, Swapna!

  13. Oates was supposed to be in our area tomorrow but had to cancel for a family emergency. I was so disappointed, even though I’ve never read her work.

  14. Oates was supposed to be in our area tomorrow but had to cancel for a family emergency. I was so disappointed, even though I’ve never read her work.

  15. Joyce Carol Oates is such a talented author. Have you read Rape, A Love Story? It’s a novella and it’s so powerful.

  16. Joyce Carol Oates is such a talented author. Have you read Rape, A Love Story? It’s a novella and it’s so powerful.

  17. I’m getting more and more into short stories, and this one sounds so good! I’ll have to track down a copy and enjoy it for myself. I love knowing one of them is a novella too.

  18. I’m getting more and more into short stories, and this one sounds so good! I’ll have to track down a copy and enjoy it for myself. I love knowing one of them is a novella too.

  19. I really need to read this author. I have meant to for years and it just hasn’t happened…

  20. I really need to read this author. I have meant to for years and it just hasn’t happened…

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