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Closed Passages and Ancient Secrets,
This review is from: Threshold (Paperback)
I've remarked elsewhere that Caitlin Kiernan has gone a long way to establishing herself as a bright light in the firmament of horror writers. Kiernan has four novels to her credit, the first of which has only appeared as a limited edition. Threshold, which is her second commercial novel (and the first involving Chance Matthews and Deacon Silvey), is one of those brilliant exercises that leaves the reader stunned and hungry for more.
This is Chance's novel, as Red Moon Rising is Deacon's. A run of deaths among Chance's friends and family have left her numb and at sea. In the middle of the sorrow two things happen to her In searching through her house, she discovers a box of her grandmother's research materials - paleontological artifacts, a diary, and a vial with the preserved body of a curious insect that bears an uncanny resemblance to a trilobyte. All are drawn from the same local mine. The second event is the appearance of Dancy Flammarion a monster hunter who knows more than she possibly could.
In between her explorations of the lives and relationships of Chance, her ex-boyfriend Deacon, his current lover Sadie Jasper, and Dancy, Kiernan lets us have glimpses of an ancient horror that has come to see them as a threat. It manifests in many forms - a fellow bus rider, the ghosts of friends, eerie animals that live in the darkest corners, and something thoughtlessly evil that lurks in the depths of the mines.
Once touch at a time the horror builds subtly for the most part, until the reader experiences a sense of free form unease. Kiernan works with small crises rather than apocalypses, but the potential is always just under the surface. And then the writer finds a finish that is both intrnsely satisfying and deeply mysterious.
This is a superbly crafted book. Kiernan's habit of choosing the lost and the hopeless as main characters will invite comparisons will Poppy Brite, but she is really a different sort of writer. And in my minds eye, possible the better of the two. She draws from sources as diverse as Lovecraft and Beowulf without a blink, and manages to keep the concoction marching to the satisfaction of the reader. Read it, and prepare for a nightmare or two.