From Publisher's Weekly:
MURDER OF ANGELS
Caitlin R. Kiernan. Roc, $14 paper
(352p) ISBN 0-451-45996-2
In this stylish sequel to Kiernan's debut novel, Silk (1998), it's been 10 years since a drug-fueled experiment opened a window on an alternate world of horrors that pushed angst-scarred Spyder Baxter to suicide, and its survivors are still reeling from the aftershocks. Daria Parker has parlayed some of her experience into a successful music career, but her lover, Niki Ky, is wracked by full-blown schizophrenic episodes in which Spyder beckons her from a dimension beyond death. When Niki follows Spyder's instruction to make a fatal plunge from San Francisco's Bay Bridge, she awakens in a gothic realm of death and darkness where she plays a key role in an intrigue Spyder has engineered to draw out a demonic entity known as "the Dragon." Meanwhile, Daria struggles in the world of the living to retrieve and protect an artifact Niki needs to keep horrors in the Dragon's world from erupting into our own. Though the plot often mystifies, the novel's unusual blend of otherworldly and supernatural horror gives it a uniquely weird cast. Kiernan's true achievement, however, is the careful crafting of her mellifluous prose to sustain an intense atmosphere of dread. Dream and nightmare, hallucination and reality, private fantasy and objective experience all merge seamlessly, making this one of the more relentless horror reads of the year. Agent, Merrilee Heifetz. (Sept. 7)
FYI: Since Silk shared the International Horror Critics Award, expectations are high for this sequel. The author's performance in a goth band helps keep her name current in fan circles.
No, I am not currently in a band, goth or otherwise. I have not been since frelling 1997...
Murder of Angels, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Roc 0-451-45996-2, $14.00, 352 pp., tp) September 2004. Cover by Steve Stone.
Murder of Angels may be Kiernan's best book to date, joining her always prodigious gift for language with a wrenching, compelling story — and there are no shortages of monsters, fantasy vistas, or sudden reversals of fortune for the characters, either.
While this is a sequel to Kiernan's debut novel Silk, set some ten years after the conclusion of that book, it stands alone well, with the relevant events from Silk woven skillfully into the backstory. The central character of Silk was the enigmatic Spyder Baxter, a sad and charismatic woman who transformed her childhood abuse into a disturbing personal mythology about angels and monsters — a mythology that gradually began to intrude on reality and affect others. Spyder didn't survive the events of Silk, but two of the other characters from that novel form the heart of Murder of Angels. Daria has gone from local musician to the heights of rock and roll stardom and partway back down again, her career endangered by debts, alcoholism, and the stress of dealing with her mentally disturbed lover. Niki Ky was the person hurt worst by Spyder's madness and death in Silk, and she has spent the ten years since in therapy and on medication to treat her persistent, horrifying hallucinations, doing her best to have a normal life with Daria.
Things are, if not exactly stable, at least consistent, until Niki's hallucinations become worse and more insistent, with strange creatures and ghosts from the past telling her that Spyder lives on in another world and needs Niki's help. Reluctantly, never quite sure of her own sanity, Niki sets out to do what Spyder wants, at the risk of destroying her own life with Daria. She is eventually drawn into a world parallel to our own, a dark place of bone bridges and basalt plains, populated by wonders and monsters — a world which may have been born of Spyder's imagination or which may have existed all along and has only been tainted by Spyder's exothermic trauma. Daria, too, is drawn into Spyder's plans, along with other characters from Silk (and one from Kiernan's Low Red Moon, in a sort of parallel-universe cameo) who each have their own roles to play in what at first seems to be a clash between Good and Evil, but proves to be something altogether more ambiguous.
There's a scene in Murder of Angels when Niki's psychiatrist talks to her about syncretization, "taking elements from older stories and putting them together in new ways or combining them with other stories to make new and more useful myths." It's as good a way as any to examine what Kiernan has done in this novel, bringing together elements of horror, magical realism, experimental fiction, and even epic fantasy (complete with a Dragon and a broadsword, though neither play their standard roles). She makes these disparate elements fit almost seamlessly, at once crafting an exquisite dark fantasy and commenting on the dangers of using fantasy to understand and cope with the difficulties of life. As Niki's psychiatrist says, "It can be very dangerous, creating myths." But in the skilled hands of a myth-maker like Kiernan, it's more than worth the risk.
So, there you go. Ta-dah.
There was no writing yesterday, There should have been, but there wasn't. It wasn't an absinthe day, but rather a Valium day, as things turned out. Today may only be a caffeine day, and, hopefully, it will also be a writing day (but I'm not making any promises). As Dragon*Con looms nearer, distractions become ever more numerous. A package from Spooky's mother arrived from Rhode Island, including two books on Woonsocket and the lower Blackstone River Valley, both of which will be very helpful in the writing of Daughter of Hounds (whenever that finally begins). Last night, we worked on a pulse-pistol holster and (you guessed it) played Morrowind. I finally vanquished the fekkiks hiding out in Sargon and got an ebony curass for my troubles, worth far, far more than the mere 500 gps the Fighter's Guild was paying me to make the hit. Then, after a stop in Ald-Ruhn, I took a home in Balmora. Having made twelfth level, I figured I deserved a home. And it seemed only fitting that it should be the annoying pillow lady's, the site of my first Fighter's-Guild job. I killed her, stashed my belongings in her attic, discarded 36 pillows, and slept in a real bed. You know, if someone would ask me to write a Morrowind novel, this whole thing would suddenly become work, and I'd feel a lot less guilty about all the time I'm giving this game.
I also enjoyed Poppy's MORON rant yesterday.
Whoops. I see by the flashing LED in my left wrist that it's time to recharge my neural net...