Silk

Silk

3.7 15
by Caitlín R. Kiernan
     
 

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To the residents of her small southern city, second-hand store owner Spyder Baxter is crazy. But her friends and followers know better. Something lives within Spder's brain. Something powerful. Something wonderful. Something dangerous. Pray it never escapes.

Overview

To the residents of her small southern city, second-hand store owner Spyder Baxter is crazy. But her friends and followers know better. Something lives within Spder's brain. Something powerful. Something wonderful. Something dangerous. Pray it never escapes.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Despite its title, there's nothing smooth or sexy about this skin-crawling debut from Kiernan, an author with one helluvan imagination and a startling lack of inhibition. At the center of this modern gothic horror story is Spyder Baxter, a deeply troubled young woman haunted by terrifying memories of childhood and her insane, abusive father. But his transgressions were so heinous that the demons aren't just in her head anymore; they've taken on a life of their own and are taking over Spyder's house, crawling out of the basement and into everything and everyone she cares about. Caught in Spyder's web of bad karma are a motley crew of disenfranchised Gen Xers all living on the edge and trying to heal various psychic wounds of their own. They've each got plenty of reasons to be hallucinating, and the author does a good job of blurring the lines between their bad acid trips and spectral sightings. But reading Kiernan is rather like deciphering entrails, filled with the violence of raw, edgy words: "The angry screech of denied retribution, raging shadows and nightshade teeth." Her rambling metaphors ("Dull smack of her shoulder against the wall, again and again, meat-thud tattoo") hint at inexperience, but her naked energy will appeal to grungers weaned on The Hunger. (June)
Paula Guran
For horror to thrive and evolve we constantly need new voices possessing originality and the power to confront us with their dark visions. They must have a genuine passion for writing, and an ability to entrance us with language. Such writers usually do not endear themselves to the staid and conventional, nor should they be expected to do so -- vitality is found on the edge.

Caitlin R. Kiernan, with Silk, shows that she possesses originality, power, passion, and magic far beyond what one could expect from a first novelist. Her voice is one of extraordinary resonance, deep sensitivity, and disturbing intensity.

The first one hundred pages of Silk introduce its characters: alienated young people -- musicians and freaks -- living on the ragged border of society. Urban punks and Goths, junkies and queers -- they are not charming bohemians who will appeal to those blithely comfortable with society. But for readers with an understanding of the misfit and sympathy for the outsider they are fascinating creations one quickly regards with acceptance and even affection.

The plot -- although intricately structured and clearly defined as the spiders' webs integral to it -- is as indescribable as music by Philip Glass, as impossible to synopsize as a Frank Zappa guitar riff. Music, in fact, is not only a metaphor, but an authentic and important part of the novel. Three of the main characters comprise the punk band Stiff Kitten. Mentions of an assortment of music from Tom Waits to Dead Can Dance become a soundtrack running through the novel. Set in Birmingham, Alabama, Silk pivots around Spyder Baxter, her companions and those who become ensnared in the web of her existence. Spyder is an enigma -- charismatic, spooky, psychotic -- haunted and powerful at the same time.

Spyder's home is a funky substitute for a decaying ancestral home full of family secrets. Since Kiernan's rich descriptive style often verges on the poetic, there is a sense of the literary Gothic pervading Silk -- although it's romanticism is replaced with Modernist perception and style.

As the story develops, the reader is never quite sure if its source is supernatural or madness. In this realm of the unknown Kiernan does not so much build suspense as evoke an atmosphere of fear, a miasma of uncertainty and dread. As Lovecraft knew, it is that atmosphere that most effectively creates the sensation we call "horror."

Inevitable parallels will be drawn with Poppy Z. Brite's Lost Souls, but just as apt are comparisons with the work Peter Straub. Like Straub and Brite, Kiernan is a vastly intelligent and superlatively imaginative. If Silk is the beginning of Kiernan's journey, we can anticipate a magnificent trip into the new millennium.
darkecho.com

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780451456687
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/04/2007
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
1,188,168
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.95(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Related Subjects

What People are saying about this

Peter Straub
"A debut novel most young horror/dark fantasy writers could not begin to appraoch. A wonderful book."
Clive Barker
"Caitlin R. Kiernan is an original. Silk is a daring vision and an extraordinary achievement."
Poppy Z. Brite
"kiernan writes like a gothic cathedral on fire. Her unfolding of strange events evokes not horror, but a large sense of awe."

Meet the Author

Caitlin R. Kiernan is the author of nine novels, including Silk, Threshold, Low Red Moon, Murder of Angels, Daughter of Hounds, and The Red Tree. Her award-winning short fiction has been collected in six volumes, including Tales of Pain and Wonder; To Charles Fort, With Love; Alabaster; and, most recently, A is for Alien. She has also published two volumes of erotica, Frog Toes and Tentacles and Tales from the Woeful Platypus. Trained as a vertebrate paleontologist, she currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

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Silk 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
kevinh01 More than 1 year ago
A dark story where there doesn't appear to be heroes or villains in a traditional sense, just people struggling against a horrifying element that is unbelievable and captivating at the same time. There is this quality of blended phrasing/wording that makes you reread parts just to get the meaning beyond what appears obvious. Her characters are believable as every day people, the horrors they face surprising with elements of the supernatural mixed with mental instability that drags you along trying to determine which is the real truth. Cheers for the dark and skittering!
Guest More than 1 year ago
SILK was one of the best books I've read in a while. I could not put it down. I grew so involved with the characters I felt as if the story was taking place in my own back yard.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Are you afraid of spiders? Well, this is one magnificently spidery book. Though the author is a master (or is that mistress?) of lyrical prose, exquisite characterization, mood, and subtext (quantum physics *and* Orpheus in one book!), Silk still manages to touch a lot of our most basic fears and takes full advantage of them. Kiernan's portrait of Birmingham, Alabama, as a brooding post-industrial wasteland is as chilling as the shadowy creatures that may (or may not) stalk its nights. The author's familiarity with the youth subcultures of the early 1990s adds another marvelous dimension to what may be the coolest spooky novel I've read since Poppy Z. Brite's Lost Souls. This novel *proves* once and for all that a book can be scary as hell *and* extremely intelligent at the same time. It certainly deserves the awards it's won and the praise its received from 'big name' authors like Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman.
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Renae Neidlinger More than 1 year ago
A beautifully written gothic tale that you won't be able to put down.
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