Threshold

Threshold

3.6 15
by Caitlín R. Kiernan
     
 

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Chance Matthews has suffered enough tragedies. The latest—her grandfather’s death—has left her shaken, convinced that she will always be alone. What she needs now is time—time to recover, time to determine what her future will be.

What she doesn’t need is a strange girl with alabaster skin who knows things about Chance she can’t

Overview

Chance Matthews has suffered enough tragedies. The latest—her grandfather’s death—has left her shaken, convinced that she will always be alone. What she needs now is time—time to recover, time to determine what her future will be.

What she doesn’t need is a strange girl with alabaster skin who knows things about Chance she can’t possibly know.

This girl speaks of being charged by an angel to battle monsters and claims she cannot do it alone. She says she needs Chance’s help.

Chance doesn’t believe in angels. Or monsters. But among the artifacts left by her geologist grandparents, there lies a fossil of a creature that couldn’t possibly have ever existed.

But it did.

And still does…

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“(Caitlín R. Kiernan is) the most singular voice to enter the genre since Neil Gaiman popped up in graphic novels and Stephen King made movies live inside books...Beginning with the instant-classic Silk and continuing through her short fiction to this extraordinary new novel, Kiernan hasn’t missed a step yet...If you haven’t sampled her work yet, you haven’t really been reading the future of horror and dark fantasy, only its past.” —Lisa DuMond, SF Site, MEviews.com
Publishers Weekly
Silk (2001), Kiernan's first novel, established her as a leading exponent of the generation-X horror story. This ambitious sophomore effort is a bold step backward: a distinctively modern tale that invokes cosmic terrors redolent of past masters H.P. Lovecraft and Algernon Blackwood. Set in present-day Birmingham, Ala., the novel centers on Chance Matthews, a promising young paleontologist left bereft by the recent deaths of friends and family. Chance and ex-boyfriend Deke Silvey, a loser with latent psychic powers, wallow in self-destructive angst until they're sought out by Dancy Flammarion, a strange teenage girl who claims to be pursued by monsters. Details of Dancy's wild story inexplicably jibe with an anomaly Chance finds in the fossil record, and a pattern gradually emerges that points to an inconceivably ancient entity surviving from Earth's prehistory that is consciously shaping their lives and miseries to suit its inscrutable purposes. Kiernan rises to the challenge of evoking incomprehensible horrors by skillfully deploying symbols that suggest much more than they show. Her oblique and dreamy prose style slows the narrative to a torpid crawl in spots, but ultimately contributes to the thick atmosphere of dread that supports the novel's weird events and sustains its mood of inarticulable terror. A finale that veers unexpectedly from a seemingly inevitable display of supernatural fireworks to a subtly disarming denouement only underscores the intelligence behind this carefully crafted tale of awe-inspired nightmare. (Nov. 6) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
Gothic SF is becoming a mainstay genre, and Kiernan explores its properties in this geology-based thriller about young adult edgy urbanites. Chance, the main character, seems doomed to be surrounded by death. Her parents were killed in a car wreck; her grandfather had a heart attack soon after her grandmother hanged herself; and now her friend/rival Elise dies in an ominous tunnel. What she doesn't need is a homeless teenager who sees horrific monsters. In the midst of this confusion, Chance has been studying fossil trilobites, an interest inherited from her grandmother. When Dancy refers to a scientific name for them, Chance is caught off-guard. Dancy points to a forgotten chest, which contains the grandmother's last experimental data. Chance takes the chest to the lab, where it is tampered with. At that point, Chance just wants to escape all the horror and pain. Dropping out of school, she tries to hide, but the monsters of her past—and Darcy's—are set on destroying them and the evidence. Is there time to solve the horrible mystery before it conquers them all? While this story builds on suspense, the writing is murkier than need be, and the characters almost approach incredibility. But the tone is true to the genre. The trilobite image doesn't work completely, but the general intermingling of the plot twists does make for an arresting read after a while. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2001, Penguin Putnam, Roc, 260p. glossary., Farmer
VOYA
Chance Matthews, a graduate student in paleontology, needs time to heal. Her grandfather has died, broken by his wife's suicide. Her friend, Elise, also has died mysteriously. Her alcoholic boyfriend, Deke, has defected to the arms of weird Gothic Sadie. Chance herself is often in an alcoholic haze, trying to forget the awful something that she, Deke, and Elise found in the old waterworks tunnel. Needing only respite from her nightmares, Chance instead receives a visitor, a strange albino waif named Dancy, who knows secret things about Chance and demands her help. Dancy claims an angel has charged her to find and destroy monsters. Chance is a scientist. She denies the existence of Dancy's angels and monsters, but she still finds a fossil of a creature that could not have existed. Suddenly, Chance, Deke, and Sadie also are part of Dancy's horrifying quest. Kiernan's second horror novel starts slowly but builds in page-turning intensity. Seemingly unrelated plot elements mesh with lovely and scientific precision as the author transports the reader to an astonishing conclusion. Her monsters are the stuff of innumerable nightmares—claws click across the floor, shadows flicker just outside the range of vision, and something oozing and terrible lurks in the closet, yearning for souls. Kiernan's style is lyrical and initially seems a trifle precious but ultimately proves right for the Gothic, literary tone of this novel. Horror fans that stick with this tale will be rewarded, but libraries should take note of one caveat—language and sexuality place it firmly for older teens. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P S A/YA (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined asgrades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2001, Roc, 259p, Hansen
Library Journal
Still trying to come to grips with the recent deaths of her grandparents and her best friend, paleontologist Chance Matthews encounters Dancy Flammarion, an albino girl who claims to see monsters. As Chance questions the mysteries of her tragic past, she begins to believe Dancy's outlandish stories and realizes that she must face a monster that is all too real and too deadly to defeat alone. The author of Silk creates an eerie and moving tale of ancient terror and modern-day angst that should appeal to mature young adults and adult fans of horror. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780451458582
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/01/2001
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
932,423
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“(Caitlín R. Kiernan is) the most singular voice to enter the genre since Neil Gaiman popped up in graphic novels and Stephen King made movies live inside books...Beginning with the instant-classic Silk and continuing through her short fiction to this extraordinary new novel, Kiernan hasn’t missed a step yet...If you haven’t sampled her work yet, you haven’t really been reading the future of horror and dark fantasy, only its past.” —Lisa DuMond, SF Site, MEviews.com

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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Threshold 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
bgdave More than 1 year ago
Kiernan is not for everyone. Villains are not simple. Heros are far from perfect. The horror is not splatterpunk. If you like HP Lovecraft, Poppy Z. Brite or really off beat southern horror in that vein then buy this book. I like Low Red Moon the best but all of Kiernan's book's take us to a place that looks a lot like the south I grew up in. Minus the monsters . . . mostly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love to read and read often. It pains to to think how long it took me to finish this. After too many months of trudging through this book in the hopes that maybe the next chapter would get better, I'm done. I¿m absolutely disappointed with this book and thankful I borrowed it from a friend. Paying the list price would have been better spent on the razors I¿d rather slit my wrists with. The characters were uninteresting. I never once felt attached to any of the characters. I didn¿t care what happened to them. The pace was slow. The book didn't pick up and get moving until the last 30 pages and at that point I was still asking myself, 'Hmm, do I still really want to finish this?' Well, I did and now I feel like I¿ve wasted my precious time. This review system allows nothing less than one star. Personally I don¿t think it¿s worth any stars but since the one star is pretty much mandatory, I do feel I should applaud Kiernan¿s talent at painting a visual picture of the world within the book. That alone would be worth a single star.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is undoubtedly the strangest book I've ever read. It seems freakishly real at times just because it's hard to distinguish between actual events and the characters' nightmares and hallucinations. It's a very interesting book but a little unsettling, probably because of the aforementioned confusion.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was slow moving and had so much to do with the past and nightmares it was hard to keep interested in the book at all. It took a hundred pages for the author to explain what the publishers summerized on the back of the novel (the book is only 307 pages long). A redeming grace was some of her phrasing when describing the scene around the characters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I kept waiting fot this book to get better. It never happened, everthing about it was so abstract. It was like a bad horror movie that you keep watching hoping for the promise it keeps hinting at that never comes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I made a special stop at the bookstore the day this was released, read the prologue, and then I knew: Ms. Kiernan's done it again! Another captivating story that had me looking at the clock and thinking, 'get some sleep, or just one more chapter?' In Threshold, Ms. Kiernan does a fabulous job of not letting the reader know exactly what's going on, but still keeping their attention. With interesting new characters, geologic information that made me want to know more, and an unexpected ending that had me smiling wide, if you loved Silk, you'll love Threshold.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Caitlin R. Kiernan returns with a second novel that should erase anyone's doubts as to whether she 'can do it again.' If anything, Threshold is indicative of a significant maturation of Kiernan as an artist. Readers who weren't so keen on Kiernan's examination of Gen X subculture in Silk may find Threshold more to their liking, as the characters are generally more accessible to mainstream readers, though still quirky enough to evoke past masters of the Southern Gothic and grotesque (Faulkner, O'Connor, Tennessee Williams, etc.). This time out, Kiernan delves deeper into the tradition of 'weird fiction,' the territory of Lovecraft and Algernon Blackwood, only hinted at in Silk. The title is the key, as Threshold drags us along with its characters across the barriers of worlds that divide the present from the past, and sanity from chaos. Terrible, fantastic, ancient things lurk beneath a mountain, things that must be faced. But this isn't merely a spook story. Kiernan's dabbling in the stuff of heroic fantasy here as well, drawing on the AngloSaxon poem 'Beowulf,' for example, to give the book a deeper level of meaning. Threshold is about the lengths we go to to save, or lose, ourselves. It's truly terrifying and the author's poetic voice continues to amaze!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kiernan immediately draws you into a world both familiar and off-kilter, with the contemporary southern city life populated by fascinatingly real characters. Her prose is most like that of Bradbury, poetic and drawing you into a building sense of dread that she has carefully crafted. Excellent book from an increasingly important American author!
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