Madame Cruller's Couch

& Other Dark and Bizarre Tales

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Pub Date 10 Aug 2021 | Archive Date 31 May 2021
Crossroad Press, Macabre Ink

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A small-town psychic’s trailer burns, leaving little in the wreckage but her lovely green couch. A great find for a couple who make their living scavenging and selling secondhand items. Yet Madame Cruller’s couch is imbedded with something unpleasant, and we’re not talking fleas.

A young man, accompanied by a shadowy specter since birth, unwittingly exacts revenge against those who threaten him.

A hoarder learns that dogs can sometimes be loyal to a fault.

A dark and terrible secret threatens the plans two brothers have of racing their car in a television-themed challenge.

A pony and a steer have had enough of their arrogant owners and decide to take the “bull by the horns,” so to speak.

Thanks to the couple who own her town, Christmastime has become an annoyance for Donna Wilson. But during this year’s command-performance Yuletide party, Donna discovers a nightmare that rivals any holiday horror story she’s ever read.

Surviving the brutal 1968 Vietnam War riots in Chicago, a desperately optimistic man travels cross-country to join a commune…only to realize that “peace” can be as dangerous as violence.

A peculiar and devastating plague rapidly spreads across the globe, throwing the survivors into a battle for their sanity and their lives.

These are some of the stories in this chilling new collection by two-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author, Elizabeth Massie.

A small-town psychic’s trailer burns, leaving little in the wreckage but her lovely green couch. A great find for a couple who make their living scavenging and selling secondhand items. Yet Madame...

Advance Praise

“Elizabeth Massie is personally one of my favorite authors.” - Bentley Little, author of The Town, The Bank

“Elizabeth Massie never fails to engage the heart and mind.” – Jack Ketchum, author of The Girl Next Door, The Lost

“Elizabeth Massie is personally one of my favorite authors.” - Bentley Little, author of The Town, The Bank

“Elizabeth Massie never fails to engage the heart and mind.” – Jack Ketchum, author of The...

Available Editions

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ISBN 9781637899694
PRICE $19.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 20 members

Featured Reviews

I’ve been a fan of Massie’s since her Leisure publishing days. So it’s been a minute and yet she never disappoints. And so I was excited to find her latest collection on Netgalley, grabbed and read it right away and sure enough, still good. And so now here I am creating a listing for it, rating and reviewing it first to help you find and read this book and, ideally, enjoy it as much as I did.
This collection comprises a bunch of short stories, a couple of poems (which honestly I can do without, but that might be a personal preference and they are at any rate too short to mind) and one novella, which takes up the final third of the book. It starts off with a bang, with a titular tale about, among other things, the dangers of grabbing secondhand furniture. A great story that really showcases Massie’s storytelling talents. Then there are a couple of just ok stories and then it really revs up into the high gear and stays there. Am I biased in adoring the tale of a clever Angus steer named Poopy Tail who gets back at his horrible owners? Possibly, but come on, how can you not love that. Massie’s really good at animating the animals, actually, and unlike the bipeds, they are uniformly likeable.
So yeah, the short stories are pretty much all good to excellent, with a lovely range and even lovelier dark flights of imagination.
The novella is a somewhat different beast, for one thing it’s s social satire. Specifically, it satirizes a society that declines into an idiocracy after a large percentage of the population develops a passionate disdain for science of any kind and, with it, intelligence, education, diversity, etc. You can tell these individuals by their red…Well, read and find out. What oh what might have inspired such a story. A story presciently enough finished at the end of 2019. Technically a global scenario, but really a distinctly American dystopia. Brutal, viscerally disturbing, kind of over the top as far as satires go, but then again this isn’t a genre known for its subtlety.
Genre wise these are definitely tales of horrific persuasion, but not precisely so, more like dark speculative fiction if you had to put a label on it. Original, exciting and fun…morals included. Another very good read from a reliably very good author. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.

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This was a great collection of spooky stories. I had never read any by this author but now they are on my radar. I will definitely look for more by her. I enjoyed the whole book.

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I've received this book for an honest review from netgalley #netgalley

Spooky and creepy and all the right places I've never heard of any of these stories before so I was definitely at the edge of my seat the entire time!

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3 Stars ⭐⭐⭐

Madame Cruller's Couch is a collection of horror stories by author Elizabeth Maddie. I often love short story collections, especially horror, as they go quick and offer some change to your reading expierence. I found this collection to be ok. It was horror inspired, and I liked a few of the stories. Overall I wasn't wow'd by majority of the stories, so I gave this collection a 3 star rating.
Stories that stoodout to me:
1. Madame Cruller's Couch
2. Down & Out on Poplar St
3. The-Not-So-Fun House
Overall while I was not too impressed bu this collection, I would still recommend this book to other horror fans as it might be for someone.
"Thank you Netgalley, for sending me a copy of this collection in exchange for an honest review."

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When I was younger, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was one of my favorite books. A book of short, scary stories with horrifying illustrations was a dream come true to this morbid child. How cool is it that now as an adult I can relive those memories with Madame Cruller's Couch. A book of short, twisted stories for adults.

The first story (the one the book is named for) is delightfully done. The older we get, the things that scare us change and this book allows those mature nightmares to come full circle. Loved it!

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Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for a copy of this book !

Madame Cruller's Couch
by Elizabeth Massie

I am not a fan of short stories and usually avoid them. I am glad that I didn't miss this book of short horror stories because it was good !

There were several really interesting shorts, creepy and original. I would pass on the poems because I have no interest in that format. There was a novella in the book which I wasn't really impressed with but overall I enjoyed the book.

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Madame Cruller's Couch is an interesting little collection of stories and one novella by Elizabeth Massie, an author most well known for her Leisure horror novel Sineater. As influenced by horror as most of the stories were, I'd actually say that this more of a satirical collection in the style of a more traditional era, like those you might find coming from authors like Ray Bradbury. If you're looking for something in this style I'm sure you'll appreciate this collection, for fans of more extreme or violent fiction I'd say this might be more of a pass. I enjoyed some of these a lot, particularly the title story, with its monkey's paw narrative, and the novella, which managed to be something of a foreshadowing of current events in the US and across the world in relation to narrow public views of science, civil rights, and politics which could end human civilization as we know it. If I had an issue with the book I think it would be simplest to say that there was a certain pervasive hopelessness in relation to humanity being much more than a complex and often destructive beast that caused me to take breaks more often than I usually do between stories.

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I saw this book on some of my Goodreads friends and could not resist the title, asked for an advanced copy and received it so soon that I have to pay my thanks to Crossroad Press. What I had in my mind was a compilation of dark, grotesque, strange tales filled with ghosts, supernatural elements and clairvoyance. I found what I’m looking for in some of the stories but most of the time, they fell a little flat due to my high expectations. If you’re looking for goose bumps and chills, this may not be the answer but you can be sure find something interesting for your late night bedtime reading. I especially enjoyed Madame Cruller’s couch, Fly Away Home and Willy Wonka and the L. Walker BioFair. Recommended for the lovers of bizarre, outworldly short stories and unconventional contemporary tales.

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This collection of short stories with the addition of a novella is a superb act of satire. The writer manages to handle a scalpel with surgeon-like precision to get beneath the sinew and bones, right to the heart of matter: our most deeply buried flaws are exposed to the sunlight. Despair, greed, envy, ambition and revenge are dissected in a most merciless manner and we get to read the result. What a treat !

All the short stories are very well crafted, but I will give extra kudos to the novella which was written end of 2019 and depicts a dystopian future not very afar from what we actually are going through. Which proves that a profound insight in the human condition is timeless and that is at the core of the best prose, and Elizabeth Massie masters this art perfectly.

It was my first read from this author, but I am sure more will follow. A heartfelt thank you to NetGalley, Crossroad press and Macabre Ink and the author for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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I’ve enjoyed this collection of stories, poems and the novella. I do think that the novella was quite interesting especially in regards to our back and forth belief in science these days. I found the stories delightful and fascinating. I would had never thought of second hand furniture as being “bad.” Another favorite was the one about the hoarder and dogs. I could go on and on. This is a must buy for horror fans. It’s also a good book to get another taste of horror (as there are many types of horror) if you have not read much of horror fiction.

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I really liked this collection, there is also a novella and a few poems, I found some stories are more to your liking than others, but for the most part I liked almost all of them, with the exception of the poems, but I’ve never been a fan of poems.

My favourites would be Madame Cruller's Couch, Lucky and Poop Tail, and the novella Eating Cancer, don’t let the name put you off, it has very little to do with Cancer, it depicts a dystopian future where a mystery illness caused people to hate and distrust any kind of science, intelligence, education and diversity, and you following along with a reported as society declines into idiocracy, the scariest thing about this story is the seminaries between the ill people in the story and the thinking of some people in society.
I would recommend this book for this story alone, *Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for a honest review.*

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These stories were enjoyably well-written and easy to read. I really enjoyed the first two, but the rest after that didn't do as much for me; the stories seemed to become more comic in tone, and I've always struggled to fully enjoy horror comedy as a genre.

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Good, but could have been more. As a librarian in a high school, I definitely think this book would speak to many of our students, but I don’t know if it would stand up as well with a somewhat older crowd.
I will certainly recommend it to some of our students, especially the macabre ones

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Entertaining collection of shorts, especially Eating Cancer, Scarves, and Madame Cruller’s Couch.
An interesting blend of horror ranging through several sub-genres, all well written. I look forward to reading more from this author.

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I really enjoyed this collection. Several short stories and poems, and one novella. All were good, but several were great. Haven't read any Elizabeth Massie in awhile, and not sure why. The novels I read were all great, and this collection of short stories was also. Will need to track down anything that I missed of hers. #MadameCrullersCouch #NetGalley

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The stories in this collection are those of the human condition: the moral, spiritual, and psychological dilemmas we face as part of our existence. There are no outlandish supernatural monsters, situations or powers at play; no haunted houses. What makes these so horrific is their relatability, the plausibility; the terror of our own making as we deal with isolation, disillusionment, neglect, hatred, pride, gluttony, and greed.

The short story, Squatters, for example, tells the story of Jack: a young man who cannot keep a job, and has always lived with his mother. He despises people whom he calls leeches: the homeless, the moochers, the frauds, the lazy ass people. The irony is beyond him as he prepares to run for Senator of Washington, D.C. (no such thing) with the following slogan: “Arguing with idiots is a waste of time! I won’t argue! I’ll make it right! Vote for Jack Pritchett.” What horror can ever come from this? Does he get his comeuppance or do we get to watch what enfolds from his success?

The story, Lucky and Poop Tail is about a Shetland pony (Lucky), and an Angus steer (Poop Tail). They are malnourished and dirty because of the neglect of the farmer. They come up with a diabolical plan to escape their situation. Will it work? Are animals more humane than humans?

Elizabeth Massie is an outstanding storyteller. She has a very extensive and eclectic bibliography, and is a two-time Bram Stoker Award recipient. It was a pleasure to read these well-written and entertaining stories. I highly recommend this book.

I’d like to thank Netgalley and Crossroad Press for the opportunity to read and review this collection.

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Madame Cruller’s Couch was a solid collection of really strange tales. Some were horror, some were speculative, some just weird. I very much enjoyed the stories and will read more from Elizabeth Massie.

The highlight for me was the last and longest novella, Eating Cancer. This was such a whirlwind. Lots of characters (reminiscent of Stephen King) and lots of story arcs for a novella. This was the perfect read for the pandemic days we find ourselves in. A story with corrupt politicians, an unexplained disease and bigots galore. Sounds very familiar. The beginning and ending tied together so nicely. And the title has a scene in the book that is so gruesome. Awesome!

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4 Stars!

I have been a fan of Elizabeth Massie since the first time I picked up one of her books many years ago. She used to publish through Leisure and there was a new book or collection from her several times a year. That output slowed down when the publisher folded but I still keep an eye out for Massie's work and was happy to get a review copy of Madame Cruller's Couch and Other Dark and Bizarre Tales to once again sink into Massie's world of terror and dark humor once again.

Madame Cruller's Couch is a collection of dark short stories and a novella. Having read short stories from Massie before, I came into the book with the expectation that I would be able to expect the unexpected and chills around every turn. I was not to be disappointed. While not all the stories in the collection are true horror stories, they are all dark looks into the recesses of the human mind and condition. Massie wields a deft hand at crafting story that are handled with a delicacy that highlights the humanity of the story while cutting the reader to the core with her insight. There really is not a bad story in the book and the novella is a bit of a rambling take on society that is somewhat chaotic at times but which works in the end as the chaos in the story serves as a strong foil for the chaos that surrounds us.

The collection starts with the titular story and Massie wastes no time drawing the reader into her world with this story of regret and desperation (and a bit of a warning about taking in second-hand furniture in a comedic twist). "Lucky and Poop Tail" is a comedic tale of revenge about a Shetland pony and bull who are neglected by their arrogant owners and kept in a life of desperation until they finally conceive a revenge plot to get their freedom. "Squatters" is a political satire that pokes fun not just at politics but at the concept that anyone can become a politician with the right idea, no matter how misguided or wrong it really is, and a bit of publicity. The satire runs thick throughout these stories and they often contain a subtle yet malicious twist that drives the moral of each story home.

Speaking of political satire, the final (and longest) story of the collection is the novella "Eating Cancer." Massie pulls no punches in looking into the dark heart of politics in a world being ravaged by a global pandemic. That sounds a lot like the world we live in. There are definite parallels between the world of the story and the real world in this harsh and often shocking satirical take on power and what truth really is. There is a lot of sensationalism in the tale but it does have a heart at its core and left me scratching my head and questioning the wisdom that we have come to accept in our lives. This novella was written before Covid and stands as an amazing look at a world besieged not just by a pandemic but also by a deluge of misinformation (or maybe correct information) that makes everything even worse in the end. It is not a horror novel at all but it is still a scary tale.

Madame Cruller's Couch was not really what I was expecting but that is just fine. While the stories within were not really horror stories in the traditional sense but they are scary enough in their own right. There were several stories that I thought were reminiscent of tales told by Ray Bradbuy in their subtle beauty and charm, such as "Madam Cruller's Couch," while others were harsh and unrelenting. Readers looking for chills and things that go bump in the night may be a bit disappointed by the collection but it stands as a very strong example of Massie's storytelling abilities.

I would like to thank Crossroads Press and NetGalley for this review copy. Madame Cruller's Couch and Other Dark and Bizarre Tales is available now.

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I've been reading this one on and off for a few weeks now. It's the perfect type of book for when you are short on time, or waiting for people or appointments. This book is made up of a bunch of short stories, a few poems, and a novella. Some stories were better than others. None were really "horror" per se. And the novella is more like a dystopian type of tale. Which isn't really my thing. Overall, though, it wasn't a bad collection. 👍🏻

**ARC Via NetGalley**

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