Tag Archives: Caitlin R. Kiernan

The Ammonite Violin (Murder Ballad No. 4) by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Overview
Hauntings: Datlow, Ellen: 9781616960889: Amazon.com: Books

Title: The Ammonite Violin (Murder Ballad No. 4)
Author: Caitlin R. Kiernan
In: Hauntings (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Horror
Dates read: 26th July 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tachyon
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: She wonders how it will affect the sound, those five ancient stones, how they might warp and alter this violin’s voice.

Synopsis

He’s a collector. The only thing? One collection is on public display… and then the other? Well, that one is just haunting.

Thoughts

You know that a story is going to be creepy when the lead character is called The Collector. And when the whole story is written from this eerie birds eye point of view. But, it was kind of much more intense than I had expected….

There is always something a bit eerie about Kiernan’s writing. Yet, I found this one particularly bad. Probably because The Collector is a serial killer. And you spend the whole time wondering who the next victim will be. And what the obsession with the violin is.

Nothing about this story is comfortable. But it was intriguing. And I loved that uncomfortable feeling that lingers at the end. Truly haunting.

<- Nothing Will Hurt YouHaunted ->

Image source: Amazon

The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women edited by Marie O’Regan

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of ghost stories by women book cover

Title: The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women
Author: Marie O’Regan, Kim Lakin-Smith, Sarah Pinborough, Kelley Armstrong, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman, Sarah Langan, Elizabeth Massie, Alex Bell, Alison Littlewood, Nina Allan, Lisa Tuttle, Nancy Holder, Yvonne Navarro, Mary Cholmondeley, Marion Arnott, Lilith Saintcrow, Nancy Kilpatrick, Muriel Gray, Cynthia Asquith, Amelia B. Edwards, Elizabeth Gaskell, Gail Z. Martin, Edith Wharton & Gaie Sebold
Series: Mammoth Books
In: The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women (Marie O’Regan)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Ghosts, Horror, Short story collections
Dates read: 29th June – 26th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: She was a sickly child, prone to unaccountable fits and agues, and her parents were convinced on more than one night that she would not live to see the dawn.

Synopsis

25 chilling short stories by outstanding female writers

Women have always written exceptional stories of horror and the supernatural. This anthology aims to showcase the very best of these, from Amelia B. Edwards’s ‘The Phantom Coach’, published in 1864, through past luminaries such as Edith Wharton and Mary Elizabeth Braddon, to modern talents including Muriel Gray, Sarah Pinborough and Lilith Saintcrow.

From tales of ghostly children to visitations by departed loved ones, and from heart-rending stories to the profoundly unsettling depiction of extreme malevolence, what each of these stories has in common is the effect of a slight chilling of the skin, a feeling of something not quite present, but nevertheless there.

If anything, this showcase anthology proves that sometimes the female of the species can also be the most terrifying…

Thoughts

This is a fantastic collection. One which I thoroughly enjoyed but learnt fairly quickly that I shouldn’t be reading this late at night… after all, some of these ghost stories are actually kind of scary. And reading them late at night with the wind blowing through the house while you’re home alone… not the best decision making of my life. To be fair, it’s also not the worst…. But that’s a whole other story.

I love that all of these ghost stories are written by women. I definitely believe that we need a collection of women-only writers more often. Or at least, I need to buy more to put on my shelves… although not all of these stories had strong women as the voice, they still felt more relatable than many of the stories that I read by men. I suppose shared experience and all that nonsense.

As a kid, I was never into ghost stories or tales of things that go bump in the night. Although I’ve gotten more into the genre over the past few years, it’s still sometimes not the most powerful driver for me. This collection though is swaying me more and more towards those horror stories.

<- The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories 2Field of the Dead ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Madam of the Narrow Houses by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of ghost stories by women book cover

Title: The Madam of the Narrow Houses
Author: Caitlin R. Kiernan
In: The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women (Marie O’Regan)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Ghosts, Horror
Dates read: 2nd November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: That both Mr Wells and Mrs hunt died in November has always seemed significant, and sometimes this sempstress who is not a medium imagines it a portent of some sort, conceivably that she herself will perish on a chill November day, only after the crisper delights of October have finished, and that thought bestows a certain solace.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

She lives in a narrow house, one that is filled with mystery, grief and death.

Thoughts

This story was one of those that is beautiful and ethereal and on my read again pile. But, unlike most stories that I find like that, I’m not entirely sure what was actually happening. I’m getting used to that with Kiernan’s stories. They all seem to be impossible to put down, but impossible to describe. I love it.

There is so much symbolism and so many hidden layers throughout this story. It furthers my desire to reread this at a future point in time. I love stories which are heavy with symbolism – they’re the type that no matter how many times you read them, you find something new to engage and captivate.

Although I can’t quite describe what went on in this story, it is one that most definitely feels hauntings. There are amazing feelings of death and hauntings throughout. And an overwhelming feeling of loneliness.

<- The Shadow in the CornerThe Lost Ghost ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Monstrous edited by Ellen Datlow

Overview
Image result for the monstrous ellen datlow book cover

Title: The Monstrous
Author: Ellen Datlow, Jeffrey Ford, Peter Straub, Dale Bailey, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Gemma Files, Livia Llewellyn, Adam-Troy Castro, Kim Newman, Jack Dann, Gardner Dozois, Carole Johnstone, Brian Hodge, Stephen Graham Jones, Adam L. G. Nevill, Sofia Samatar, Terry Dowling, Glen Hirshberg, A.C. Wise, Steve Rasnic Tem, Christopher Fowler & John Langan
In: The Monstrous (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Horror, Short story collections
Dates read: 8th January – 3rd June 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Tachyon
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: “I supppose I do,” I reply.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Horror’s most acclaimed editor reveals twenty riveting tales of the Other gone wrong. Monsters who suffer from heartbreak, betrayal, ungrateful kids, and unpaid overtime. Creatures of darkness that struggle to adapt to modern living. Ordinary folks who find themselves inexplicably transformed. 88 But if you dare, come a bit closer and discover the most terrifying of beings – those who are living under your own skin and peering out from behind your eyes.

Thoughts

This collection is brilliant. It is dark, creepy and intense. It is fun. It gave me goose bumps. And it is filled with monsters who come in ALL shapes and sizes. And I mean ALL. A wonderful, fantastic and seriously enjoyable collection filled with the things that go bump in the night. The things that you really hope aren’t hiding under your bed.

Although this anthology sits in my horror shelf, it isn’t really all that scary. Sure, there are multiple moments of discomfort throughout. But they’re that, you have to think a little too much, or consider the many moments of confusion throughout this story that you really don’t necessarily want to think too much about. And, honestly, it’s not the things that jump out and yell BOO that make me love horror. It’s that underlying discomfort that makes you look at your own life that I am quickly becoming obsessed with.

I absolutely adored this collection. It was filled with some familiar names and new ones. Each and every story made me stop and really think about what the storyline was saying. And even now, when I have still finished the whole collection… I am still thinking about some of the stories that I read.

<- Run, Rabbit, RunA Natural History of Autumn ->

Image source: Amazon

The Beginning of the Year Without a Summer by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Overview
Image result for the monstrous ellen datlow book cover

Title: The Beginning of the Year Without a Summer
Author: Caitlin R. Kiernan
In: The Monstrous (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy
Dates read: 5th March 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tachyon
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: Me and my mom both found them.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Dark, deep and intriguing. An impossible short story to put down.

Thoughts

There is something dark and intriguing about this short story. Which I’m starting to recognise as a bit of a hallmark of Kiernan’s writing. There is a sense of vagueness in the story, but one which worked brilliantly. It gave an even darker, more mystical feel to the storyline.

Although this short story stood well on its own, it would have also been fantastic as the introduction to a novel. It felt like there was so much more behind the scenes of this story. So much more that could have been teased out.

I loved the feel of this story. I also loved the fact that I read it late at night, with a glass of wine in hand and the dogs on my lap. It kind of helped to build that feeling of mystery and darkness that Kiernan does so well. Definitely one that I’ll go back and read again soon.

<- Giants in the EarthA Wish from a Bone ->

Image source: Amazon

Naked City edited by Ellen Datlow

Overview
naked-city

Title: Naked City
Author: Ellen Datlow, Jim Butcher, Delia Sherman, Richard Bowes, Ellen Kushner, Christopher Fowler, Patricia Briggs, Pat Cadigan, Peter S. Beagle, Naomi Novik, Matthew Kressel, Kit Reed, Lavie Tidhar, Nathan Ballingrud, Melissa Marr, John Crowley, Holly Black, Jeffrey Ford, Lucius Shepard, Caitlin R. Kiernan & Elizabeth Bear
In: Naked City (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Short story collections, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 28th June – 26th December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: Out in Brooklyn in a couple of spots you can walk down a street and almost think it’s a hundred and twenty-five years ago.

Synopsis

In this thrilling collection of original stories, some of today’s hottest paranormal authors delight, thrill, and captivate readers with otherworldly tales of magic and mischief. In Jim Butcher’s “Curses”, Harry Dresden investigates how to lift a curse laid by the Fair Folk on the Chicago Cubs. In Patricia Briggs’s “Fairy Gifts”, a vampire is called home by magic to save the Fae who freed him from a dark curse. In Melissa Marr’s “Guns for the Dead”, the newly dead Frankie Lee seeks a job in the afterlife on the wrong side of the law. In Holly Black’s “Noble Rot”, a dying rock star discovers that the young woman who brings him food every day has some strange appetites of her own.

Featuring original stories from twenty authors, this dark, captivating, fabulous, and fantastical collection is not to be missed!

Thoughts

This is a seriously diverse collection of urban fantasy short stories. Not to mention fun and engaging. Probably moving right to the top of my list if I’m being honest. Normally my purview of urban fantasy is kind of small. But the breadth and width of these stories and the style in which they’re written… just wow.

I loved the fact that most of these short stories were standalones. I used to really enjoy finding new series through short stories and novellas. But, I have so many now that sometimes just reading a standalone without having to hunt out more of that world (I’m obsessive, I do this EVERY time) was kind of nice. I got a great taste of the imaginations and storytelling talents of a variety of authors, without actually feeling the need to buy more, more, more. Honestly, there is nothing worse than finding myself a new series to obsess over and then realising that I have a whole slew of new books to buy…

Although this is an urban fantasy collection, it does have a darker twist to it than usual. Every single one of these stories is a little bit dark, a lot bit fun and most don’t have a happy ending. Which, I tend to love, because I get a bit over all the happily ever afters… but it’s definitely something to keep in mind as you rip through the stories.

<- CorpsemouthCurses ->

Image source: Patricia Briggs

The Colliers’ Venus (1893) by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Overview
naked-city

Title: The Colliers’ Venus (1893)
Author: Caitlin R. Kiernan
In: Naked City (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 18th December 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: “How very inspirational.”

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

There is something waking in the mines. But only he knows how to deal with it.

Thoughts

I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that mines are kind of terrifying places. The passage of time is also terrifying, but in a more abstract way. So a story that somehow combines these two things? It actually worked out incredibly well as a scary short story. Nothing terrifying, not like the Stephen King books I’ve been reading lately… but still not a comfortable story.

There’s something about Kiernan’s short stories that are just a little darker and more twisted than the others in my collections. Or at least, in the collections that she’s been in. It’s nothing obvious and poignant, but, as soon as I finish one of her short stories I just feel… uncomfortable. And kind of just sit there feeling a bit “huh” over what I just read. Which is kind of amazing. But also means that I have to be in the right mood to enjoy her stuff.

I loved how this story was created out of a vague, dreamy state. Nothing felt concrete and real in the storyline and as I turned the last page I just kind of sat there staring at the wall. Trying to figure out all the intricacies of the storyline. I’m still not quite sure that I’ve got it… but that’s why I love to reread stories!

 <- The Skinny Girl ReviewKing Pole, Gallows Pole, Bottle Tree Review ->
Image source: Patricia Briggs

The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance 2 edited by Trisha Telep

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of vampire romance 2 book cover

Title: The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance 2: Love Bites
Author: Trisha Telep, Jordan Summers, Deborah Cooke, Karen MacInerney, Caitlin Kittredge, Dina James, Camille Bacon-Smith, Rosemary Laurey, Patti O’Shea, Angie Fox, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Jamie Leigh Hansen, Carole Nelson Douglas, Diane Whiteside, Jaye Wells, Stacia Kane, Jennifer Ashley, Justine Musk, Jennifer St Giles, Dawn Cook, Nancy Holder, Larissa Ione, Jeanne C. Stein, Tiffany Trent, Ann Aguirre & Devon Monk
Series: Mammoth Books
In: The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance 2 (Trisha Telep)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal romance, Short story collections, Vampires
Dates read: 22nd March – 9th November 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: Le Cirque de la Nuit.

Synopsis

From the biggest names in vampire romance, 25 tales of a hunger like no other.

Bloodthirsty new vampire romance, including thrilling new stories from bestselling and award-winning authors aush as Jordan Summers, Jaye Wells, Larissa Ione, Jeanne C. Stein and Deborah Cooke. You’ll encounter gothic romance and gritty contemporary tales of urban vampire love, from stand-alone short stories to well-loved (and feared) characters from established series.

Ruthless but tortured, gifted with paranormal sensitivity and sexually mesmerizing, vampires show they can be gentle and caring, too.

Forget the everyday world. Forget the rules. Succumb to a different kind of love.

Thoughts

I really think that Twilight kind of ruined the idea of vampires for me. And vampires with romance… it’s something that I’ve taken forever to truly get into. And even now, with this collection, I thoroughly enjoyed it in short bursts. Some of these stories were absolutely amazing. Many others weren’t. And some sat nicely in the middle. Which mostly just made this collection, fun, easy and a great break from reality late at night when I was no longer able to concentrate.

Having said that, the introduction sounds kind of pessimistic. That’s not the case with this book. It’s definitely an anthology that I would suggest to others. And one that I think people would thoroughly enjoy. I’ll probably even read it again in the future – just take my sweet time about it to space out the vampire overload.

As with all of the other Mammoth Books that I’ve read so far, I found this a great introduction to authors. Both new ones, and a reminder that I need to add some previously read authors to my wishlist too. I just need to magically find more money to actually purchase everything that has been added into my list.

<- Untitled 12Paris After Dark ->

Image source: Bookdepository

Flotsam by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of vampire romance 2 book cover

Title: Flotsam
Author: Caitlin R. Kiernan
In: The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance 2 (Trisha Telep)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: OceansRomance
Dates read: 5th May 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: But it’s all the same, really, as I am hers to do with as she will, no strings attached, no farthest limits to my devotion; I made that promise the first night and have not yet regretted it.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

Sometimes we make promises that are hard to keep. Other times, it’s the easiest decision we’ve ever made.

Thoughts

I found this tale a little hard to get through. Which was a little weird when I considered that so far, I have loved every Kiernan short story that I’ve read. And then I realised that this entire story was a single block of text. No paragraphs or breaks of any kind. Just a big wall of sentences and text that reflected the vastness and overwhelming sense that the ocean provides.

There are so many ways in which the ocean is idolised and picturesque. Yet this story doesn’t really highlight that aspect of the vast horizon, rather it shows the idea that the ocean likes to take. As well as give. But, in the case of this story and partnership, it takes and hurts, and in some, weird, roundabout way, manages to make the giver feel more alive and vibrant. Makes them feel that they’re vital in ways they weren’t before.

 <- Love Bites ReviewThe Murder King’s Woman Review ->
Image source: Bookdepository

The Mammoth Book of Steampunk edited by Sean Wallace

Overview
The Mammoth Book of Steampunk

Title: The Mammoth Book of Steampunk
Author: Sean Wallace, Ekaterina Sedia, Jeff VanderMeer, Caitlin R. Kiernan, E. Catherine Tobler, Jay Lake, Genevieve Valentine, Cat Rambo, Shweta Narayan, Aliette de Bodard, N.K. Jemisin, Peter M. Ball, Sharon Mock, Catherynne M. Valente, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Eileen Gunn, Michael Swanwick, Tobias S. Buckell, Matthew Kressel, Margo Lanagan, Amal El-Mohtar, Barth Anderson, Jeffrey Ford, James Morrow, Cherie Priest, Margaret Ronald, Megan Arkenberg, Benjamin Rosenbaum, Mary Robinette Kowal, Samantha Henderson, Nick Mamatas, Nicole Kornher-Stace & Lavie Tidhar
Series: Mammoth Books
In: The Mammoth Book of Steampunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Short story collections, Steampunk
Dates read: 3rd October 2018 – 6th March 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: He was in his library, or so he called it, a small room that smelled of pipe tobacco and old leather, so close that one could barely breathe.

Synopsis

30 anarchic mash-ups of past and future that push the boundaries of steampunk.

Great steampunk stories confront an uneasy history of oppression – of women, other ‘races’ and classes – and the abuse of science, by reimagining the past. The writers represented in this outsatnding collection look to the future through the lens of the past, imagining worlds in which technology is used to uplift rather than to oppress.

Thoughts

I’ve only recently gotten involved in steampunk. It’s a genre that I only started reading late last year and one that I kind of love. Although, as I discovered with this collection of short stories, it is also a genre that I have to concentrate a little more to read (unlike genre such as romance).

This anthology runs the gambit of steampunk stories and brings a number of themes, styles and settings to life. It is a perfect way to completely disappear from the world after a long day. Although, with many of the themes, once you have finished the story you are thrown back into reality ten times more heavily than you were before. After all, most of these stories have a great commentary about the world that we live in today.

From capitalism to feminist movements, every major issue and discussion that seems to be occurring in modern society is touched upon in this collection. Yet, these aren’t all serious commentaries on the world. Some of the stories are kind of hilarious, and some are downright weird. The one thing that they all have in common is that they are thoroughly enjoyable and have helped to give me a new addiction.

<- The TraitorSteampunk: Looking to the Future Through the Lens of the Past ->

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