Author: Caitlin R. Kiernan
Pages: Paperback, 351
Published: June 1998
Opening Lines: "Two nights before Halloween, as if it matters to anyone in the house, as if every day in this house isn't Halloween."
"They are the young misfits...society's castoffs...urban strays looking for a thrill. Something cheap, anything to get them through the night. Sleepwalking on caffeine, nicotine, and drugs, they wait out the dawn in death-rock clubs and shadowy back alleys...Thoughts: I first picked this book up about four years ago. For some reason, I was really in the mood for horror. About 30 minutes before the local Hastings was closing for the night, I drug my husband out in the snow to cruise the minimal horror aisle. Aside from the big guns like Koontz and King, Hastings is lacking on quality horror, so I was surprised when I stumbled on this gem. I didn't know anything about the author, but the jacket copy and cover drew me in.
"Then into their midst comes the enigmatic Spyder. A patron saint of the alienated and lost, she invites them into her mesmerizing world-but has she been sent to redeem them or destroy them?"
How does one describe this book? The book follows the members of Stiff Kitten (Daria, Mort, and Keith), Theo (Mort's girlfriend), Spyder and her group of goths (Robin, Walter, and Byron), and Niki Ky. Through various reasons, they are all drawn to Spyder. And, in one way or another, she becomes their downfall and/or salvation.
In many ways, Kiernan reminds me of Lovecraft. There is a building of anxiety through this novel, and it is unknown how much is truly inside the head of each of the characters. However, one thing is known for sure, there is something lurking outside in the darkness. The skitterers can be heard in the corners, under the floorboards, and their porcupine hair scratches on the ground as they move. At times, this book feels like an acid trip, but it is amazing.
Kiernan is able to bring this book to life with her amazing prose.
The espresso flowed from the scooper like liquid midnight, dry fluid so perfectly dark, so smooth, it seemed to steal the dim coffeehouse light, to breathe it alive and exhale velvet caffeine fumes . . . The espresso drained from the brewer's jets, twin golden streams, smooth as blood from an open vein . . . (22)
Honestly, I find myself unable to fully review this book. Like the spiders in Daria's apartment, it gets under your skin and you're unable to shake it. When I first read it, I found myself jumping at shadows. The second time through, I look at corners twice. This book is twitchy, wonderful, scary, and dirty. Kiernan is able to make the sanest person question their mental stability.
If you're in the mood for a different kind of horror, a pseudo-Lovecraftian adventure, a mind-fuck, and something that will keep you up at night, I suggest grabbing this book.
Current Pages: 13,694