The Very Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan

Tachyon. Feb. 2019. 432p. ISBN 9781616963026. pap. $17.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616963033. SF/short stories
OrangeReviewStarDrenched in an ocean setting and an atmosphere of corruption and decay, Kiernan's short fiction, published previously in volumes by several small presses, is collected here for the first time. "In Andromeda Among the Stones," Meredith Dandridge has to close the gate her father opened, letting the horrors of World War I into the world. In "Houses Under the Sea," a cult leader ushers her followers into the ocean (readers of Kiernan's The Drowning Girl will be familiar with the group), while "The Prayer of Ninety Cats" features a film critic who reviews a disturbing film covering the life of Erzsebet Báthory. In "A Fairy Tale of Wood Street," the narrator's girlfriend stops hiding the cow's tail that she had all along, and an artist enters the land of faeries in "La Peau Verte." The anthology's lack of explanatory prefaces or afterwords is noticeable, but the stories speak for themselves.
VERDICT Bodies, relationships, and the world are all changeable, shifting, and unstable in this collection by a master of dark fiction. Though influenced by Lovecraftian mythos, the work stands on its own and will be essential for Kiernan devotees.

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