The Odditorium


San Francisco Chronicle Best Book Of The Year
Library Journal Best Stories Collection Of The Year
O, The Oprah Magazine “Title To Pick Up Now” and “Book Of The Week”

In each of these eight genre-bending tales, Melissa Pritchard overturns the conventions of mysteries, westerns, gothic horror, and historical fiction to capture surprising and often shocking aspects of her characters’ lives.

In one story, Pritchard creates a pastiche of historical facts, songs, and tall tales, contrasting the famed figures of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, including Annie Oakley and Sitting Bull, with the real, genocidal history of the American West. In other stories, she explores the mysterious life of Kaspar Hauser, a haunted Victorian Hospital where the wounded of D-Day are taken during WWII, the courtyard where Edgar Allen Poe played as a child, and from Robert LeRoy Ripley, of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not,” and his beguiling “auditoriums.”


“Emotionally rich.”
New York Times

“The stories in this strange and original collection bend genres—horror, mystery, Western—into wondrous new shapes.”
O, The Oprah Magazine

“Display(s) the whimsy and intelligence of a writer at the height of her powers.”

“Pritchard’s exhuberant prose is perfectly suited to carry the antic freight of these often bizarre, always cerebral stories.”
The Minneapolis Star Tribune

“…the singularity of her narrators remains indelible (and) shows that fiction still has the ability to shock and surprise.”
The Washington Post

“Pritchard’s best stories are ambitious, lush and even thrilling. She takes risks, different risks in different stories. Can she write a segment in the form of a comedic Shakespearean dialogue? She can. Does a story evolve into epistolary form? It does. Will she be able to build a story around the format of an old newspaper feature? She will. Can she do it all with poetic, vivid prose? With one hand tied behind her back. Is Melissa Pritchard someone whose short fiction should be well known? Do you even have to ask?”
Los Angeles Times

“Pritchard polishes the strange and makes it shine.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“Any great writer does many things at once, of course, but most lead with a particular strength. And then there is Pritchard, who simply turns all the dials up to eleven. In [The Odditorium], more than in previous works, history gives her the best playing field for her considerable energies and produces some of her most moving and satisfying stories to date.”
IMAGE: Art, Faith, Mystery

“Reading Melissa Pritchard’s short-story collection The Odditorium is a bit like peering into a Wunderkammer, one of those magical cabinets where the rich and adventurous used to display their treasures. The beautiful, the grotesque. The odd, the charming…Pritchard uses fiction to bring new life to these figures—some famous and mythologized, and others not—blending the historical and the fantastical to create a collection of great charisma.”
Kirkus Reviews

“The rewards for a careful expedition into The Odditorium are unforgettable moments of timeless, resonant truth…Pritchard’s descriptive talents illuminate not just the emotional depths of her characters but humanity’s physical innards as well.”