Tuesday, June 29, 2010


by Caitlin Kiernan

Very similar in format to Silk, but a lot more enjoyable. The characters were more appealing, the pace of events worked a lot more smoothly, and the wider supernatural facets were effective rather than distracting. The background myth slowly expressed was interesting, and the monsters were actually quite scary--and such encounters were used to further build the connection with and complexity of the characters. Still not as good as the Red Tree, and I'm beginning to get worried that Kiernan only really has one story she's retelling, but a worthwhile read.

The main structure works both as a horror novel and as a character study. The type of horror is rather Lovecraftian, and much as I tend to be alienated by the initial writer and many of the recreators of his text, here it’s quite effective, brining a level of creativity and coherence alongside some effective specific passages. The creepiness comes from the ability of the creatures to quite effectively and horribily dispose of main characters as well as the larger substance of what they are, a longstanding pre-historic species at once before recorded time and outside of regular temporality entirely. Yet it ultimately succeeds because the characters, while in the same mold as in Silk, appear vastly more complex and sympathetic. They’re screwups, in large part, but much more endearing and understandable in the mistakes they make with their life. Additionally they carry in enough actual sympathy for each other that there are sparks of real friendship and possibly even love against the grittiness, and make the central momentum of the plot a lot more engaging.

Worse than: American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Better than: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

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