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The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan. Book review

Book cover for The Very Best of Caitlin R Kiernan

Picking up this collection of stories was like being given a traditional quilt as a present. Each square a unique story with its own narrative meaning. A piece of craftsmanship you can spend many happy hours examining, thinking about the history of the fabrics and the story each has to tell you. Once you have worked your way through the entire piece, you begin all over again noticing the embellishments of stitch work you might not have seen before, thus renewing the pleasure of your acquaintance.

Caitlín Kiernan slips comfortably between the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres, as well as modern nods to epic Gothic horror, at times melding them all together. If you like something dark and unsettling this is the collection for you. Put The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan down for a moment and you will feel the need to keep looking over your shoulder, or find yourself waking up with a sudden start in the middle of the night.

Creating a nagging sense of disquiet is something the author is very skilled at. Stories which slowly detach themselves from reality abound. There are also those which have no connection at all, but because the narrative is divorced from physical reality, there is always the psychology to work on, which Kiernan does ruthlessly, leaving the reader with the sense that they are reading something which might just swallow them whole and not bother to spit them out.

The collection is an excellent example of someone capable of consummate worldbuilding within a limited word count, resulting in the feeling of experiencing a bite-sized epic.

I’d never read any of Kiernan’s work until now, but this collection has certainly made me very interested in her writing, so I will hunt out her backlist and be on the lookout for any new work.

The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan was courtesy of Tachyon Publications via NetGalley.

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