October 12th, 2010
Kiernan, who has been described as “H.P. Lovecraft’s spiritual granddaughter,” here presents a collection of 20 short stories displaying her characteristic dark, tightly crafted genre stories that range from horror through dark fantasy through ghost story and the just plain unexplainable. Kiernan’s prose is visceral and throbbing, and her imagery is taut, often using abstruse scientific terminology when describing the utterly unreal and nightmarish. Sexuality and obsession pulse through many of the stories and the narrators often find themselves in the thrall of hypnotically powerful and not-quite-sane lovers. Stand-outs in the collection include the title story, in which a serial killer and a violinist both achieve the pinnacle of their craft; “The Madam of the Narrow Houses,” featuring a woman born to minister to ghosts; and “The Lovesong of Lady Ratteanrufer,” in which a troubled young woman falls in love with the king of the rats and brings her own sort of doom to his enemies.
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