Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Sandra Ruttan Reviews: The Very Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan

I'm not often drawn to short fiction collections, but reading The Very Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan is like opening a new gift with the start of each story. You may not know who the characters are or the circumstances you face before you begin, but rest assured that Kiernan is a masterful storyteller with original concepts that will both surprise and delight you.

Some stories could be called horror, others would be dark fantasy, and there are wrongdoings peppered throughout. The stories are really vignettes. It's like tumbling through the wardrobe door into Narnia - the worlds already exist, the characters are in motion, events are shaping their destinies or their destinies are directing their choices, depending on how you look at it. And often there's the sense of a dark future still unfolding after the final words. 

"Sticky verdant light spills from her skin and pools in the grass and moss at her bare feet.
"Sink or swim, and so easy to image the icy black well water closing thickly over her sister's face, filling her mouth, slipping up her nostrils, flooding her belly, as clawed hands dragged her down.
"And down.
"And down."

Whether you like to devour short story collections whole or savor them one story at a time, the writing is both evocative and captivating and the stories are anything but predictable. A highly original collection well worth your time.

Sandra Ruttan ©2019

Sandra Ruttan is the submissions editor for Bronzeville Books ( and manages the content for their zine, Bronzeville Bee (

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