Two Worlds and in Between: The Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan, Vol. 1

Caitlin R. Kiernan. Subterranean (www.subterraneanpress.com), $38 (576p) ISBN 978-1-59606-391-4
"I wasn't always a storyteller," Kiernan (The Red Tree) claims in her introduction, but you wouldn't know it by the tremendous talent displayed in these 26 stories of life, death, undeath, horror, sorrow, and a peculiar sort of beauty. This retrospective volume, the first of two, contains works published between 1993 and 2004 that show Kiernan's rapid ascent from a journeyman writer bringing a fresh perspective to classic horror themes ("Emptiness Spoke Eloquent," a Dracula "sequel," and the title tale, an exercise in punk nihilism with zombies) to one of the most innovative and imaginative stylists in contemporary dark fantasy. Particularly noteworthy are two award-winning stories: "La Peau Verte," an otherworldly absinthe fantasy, and the horror tour de force "Onion," about a couple haunted by encounters with the supernatural that represent both the most horrifying and the most transcendent moments of their depressingly common lives. All of the selections are distinguished by Kiernan's poetic prose, which conjures a rich, enveloping atmosphere of dread and imparts a surreality to the narratives that supports their weird events. Every story in the book deserves its "best" designation. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 06/13/2011
Release date: 11/01/2011
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