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Threshold (Chance Matthews #1)

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  992 ratings  ·  103 reviews
Chance Matthews is drawn into a battle between angels and monsters because of something in her possession-a fossil of a creature that couldn't possibly have ever existed. But it did. And still does.

Mass Market Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 2nd 2007 by Roc (first published 2001)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,110)
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Allison
I tried to stick this one out, but I finally cried "Uncle" at page 106.

The story seemed intriguing (Fossils? Goths? Beowulf? Do tell!) and the musicality of the language and the strong imagery provided enough of an incentive to bear with it, to a point.

So what broke me?

The characters, man. There's only so much self-pity you can swim in till you drown. In Chance's case, it's arguably somewhat justified, but it doesn't necessarily make for compelling reading. And Dancy wasn't so bad, but seriousl
...more
Juushika
When Chance and her friends break into a mountainside tunnel, they never expect to set into action a chain of events that lead to the appearance of Dancy, a young girl who claims to see monsters, or the discovery of impossibly old fossils, which may prove her right. Kiernan writes Lovecraftian horror of the finest sort, but her lyrical prose and carefully balanced novel are entirely her own. Threshold's narrative voice may not suit all readers, but for those with a love of lyricism and an apprec ...more
Jason
First, I love Caitlin Kiernan, so if you are a fan of horror, well written fiction, and of fiction in general, you should do yourself a favor and pick up a novel of hers. I have read 3 of Kiernan's later novels and fell in love with them. This book has a lot to like and parts to love too, but I felt that the ending was far to weak for the suspense that built up until then. The ending was nothing like the ending's she has written in other novels. So, if you are a horror fan, start with this one, ...more
Rachel
Jan 15, 2008 Rachel rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who's angry and wants to add fuel to the fire
Before I get too far into this review, I only got through 70-75% of the book before I had to put it into the used bookstore trade pile. I've never done that before. Never.

That said...

Awful! I read a great deal, good and bad, interesting and dull, but never one that was so annoying and action-less. Let me expound... Reading a book in the present tense is difficult because it's rare to read one written like that and it makes sense to have the third person omniscient content in the past. I was anno
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Angie
I loved the two possible story lines Kiernan posits at the end of the novel. Which is to be believed?

Note to readers: this is the first in a series of three books. Part two of Chance's and Deacon's tale is told in "Low Red Moon," while part three, which picks up the new mythos discussed in the second, is the excellent "Daughter of the Hounds." (The mythology is based on Lovecraft's, but only loosely.)

These novels remind me, somehow, of "His Dark Materials," but here, the materials are indeed d
...more
Sam
I picked up this book because it had a lukewarm endorsement by Neil Gaiman on the cover and it looked interesting. While a fairly mediocre horror story, the writing tends to be beyond annoying. I think someone must have told this author she had an interesting writing style in college and she went with it. It's the type of writing that irks me with its pretentiousness. Throughout the book, often up to six times on a page, Kiernan combines words such as 'icycold' and 'blackiced' and 'wetdark' and ...more
Kate
Threshold is a difficult novel to summarize. I'm not sure Caitlin Kiernan even knew what kind of book she was writing. Chance has had a lot of people die in her life, and the book opens with her grandfather's funeral. Her ex-boyfriend, Deacon, is a drunk and his girlfriend, Sadie, is an immature goth girl. Dancy is a stranger who believes that there are monsters in the world that need to be stopped, and she comes to town looking for Chance because of visions she has had with Chance in them. She ...more
Brian
I'll go ahead and say it--this book was awful.

I'd had Kiernan's stories recommended to me before, since I'm a huge Lovecraft fan. Daughter Of Hounds was the one most frequently mentioned, but at the time I was living in Japan and didn't have easy access to an English library or an English bookstore that was likely to have any of her books, but through the services of Bookmooch I managed to get a copy of Threshold.

It's about Chance and Deacon's relationship. Or maybe it's about monsters? If the m
...more
harlequin {Stephanie}
Don't let the three star rating fool you I really enjoyed this. It has a very gritty atmosphere with not a single happy character in sight. It fit my mood yesterday.

Some things did bug me. I want to underline the end about five times. Feels unfinished or maybe just open to interpretation.

(view spoiler)
...more
Elke
I found reading this book a long and often boring process. Neither the characters nor the story left a lasting impression.
Rachel
Jun 20, 2007 Rachel rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: abandoned
THis book was so depressing, I didn't make it past the second chapter
Jessica
I kept trying to put this down so I could get some errands done, but I just couldn't. It's like if Lovecraft and Carroll sat down to write a paleontological nightmare, urban fantasy style, with a generous dash of Beowulf thrown in.

It was a bit of a slower read than is normal for me with novels, but it's worth the effort to let yourself go and immerse yourself in the world. The use of language -- new compound words, unusual syntax, most scenes written in the present tense -- took some getting use
...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jan 21, 2011 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those Looking for Literary Horror Novels
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
This made for a phantasmagorical journey that bent genres with both science fiction and fantasy elements. I read this because it was on a horror genre rec list, and though that fits and the novel at times is suspenseful and scary, I don't think that quite describes the book.

For one, the style is much more literary than you usually see in genre writing. It reminds me of a less extreme and more grammatical Cormac McCarthy: there are long, complex sentences and the present tense and frequent use o
...more
Evilynn
I don't know exactly why I never seem to gel with Kiernan's writing. It should be right up my alley, gothic, sort of psychological horror, but I just can't seem to connect with it, somehow. I liked Threshold more than The Red Tree, part of it gave me the willies, but the end felt a little meh. Some people seem to get really annoyed with the compound words Kiernan makes up in this book, but they mostly didn't bother me, perhaps because my native language contains a lot of them, in fact, some of t ...more
Jennifer Jensen (Literally Jen)
This is the first and last Caitlin R. Kiernan book I will ever read. I made it to page 57, and couldn't go any further. I wanted to give it a fair chance, but after having started this book several weeks ago and not getting past page 30 because it wasn't holding my attention very well, that was my first sign that I should probably just give up.

I picked it up again today because I finished up some other books I'd been reading, and figured maybe I could finally get into this story now that I had n
...more
Grace
Threshold has an interesting premise that makes the geologist in me tingle with excitement. In the bowls of the earth where there are underground rivers and caves, things dwell. To describe these things is to know them, and to know them brings insanity and death.

Chance is a budding palaeontologist who is following in the footsteps of her grandparents. Her grandparents, specifically her grandmother, had a secret that she took with her when she killed herself. Chance is the rational, fact based o
...more
chucklesthescot
Chance is grieving after the death of her grandfather and is disturbed by the arrival of a strange girl who seems to know too much about her life. She claims to be an angel and wants Chance to help her destroy something evil.

*Yawn* This was not a good book in my opinion. There was nothing to like about Chance. In the prologue she and her friends are drug taking, for the rest of what I read she was drunk most of the time, and she was forgiving her boyfriend and best friend who were sleeping toget
...more
Jennifer
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stephanie
Read out of order, after "Low Red Moon". Because I am an idiot and picked up the wrong book from the shelf first. It probably says something about how well these books do stand alone, since I didn't realise that "Low Red Moon" was a sequel until after I finished it. Still, you should probably read this one first.

I actually think this is a stronger book than "Low Red Moon". So much of Kiernan's gorgeous language (though I did get a little tired of her habit/trick of stringing two words together t
...more
Doug
Threshold is dark and rich and strange, and no superficial description is going to do it justice. Its bones are a Stumbling Onto That Which Should Not Be Disturbed tale in a mode not completely un-Lovecraftian. Kiernan isn't as resolutely xenophobic as Howard P., but perhaps no less sanguine about the outcome of encounters with That Which Is Beyond Human Ken.

Kiernan renders the story of drunken Deacon, sharp-witted Chance, gothy Sadie, damaged Dancy, and unfortunate Elise in a present-tense stre
...more
Heather
This is the third novel I have read by Caitlin Kiernan and I was not disappointed. The central characters are well-drawn, flawed human beings who are interesting enough that I would really like to know more about them, Deacon Silvey in particular. I would love to read of his past interactions with police where he helped them solve certain crimes using his unusual abilities.
As always, this is a dark tale, twisted and surreal. Based on the loose premise that there are things mankind would be bett
...more
Isidore
Here we have a novel which, stripped of the soap operatic soul-searchings of the principals and a vast amount of trivial slice-of-life homely detail, would likely have made an effective short story or novelette. One has to wait such a very long time for eerie things to happen (and why is anyone reading this stuff, except to be scared or filled with wonder?) that when these moments finally arrive one is out of sorts and impatient with the whole business.

The ending is interesting, but before one g
...more
Cleverusername
I found out about Kiernan in an unusual sort of way... through comics. I thought that the cover for "Alabaster: Wolves" was intriguing, so I picked it up. Turns out that I had just tried to jump into an entire world full of eldritch horrors, which may or may not have been a bad decision. Though I distinctly lacked knowledge of the character of Dancy Flammarion, the comic managed to draw me in and keep me involved through it's entire arc (which, by the way... hopefully there's more to come from t ...more
Jeff Chappell
Sep 22, 2009 Jeff Chappell rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who want thinking persons' horror (with elements of dark fantasy and sci fi
Shelves: fiction
Kiernan is one of my favorite authors; this is the third or fourth time I've read this one, and it stands up to the test of time for me. Having re-read one of her more recent works that involved some of the same characters that we meet in Threshold for the first time, I decided it was time to go back and visit their younger selves; it is like visiting old friends.

Having said that, I will say that if you are new to Kiernan, you may want to read one of her later books (she has a new one out, whic
...more
Seizure Romero
On one of my "Oooh! Shiny!" days at the library* I found In the Garden of Poisonous Flowers and decided to check it out (literally and figuratively. My review is here). Not too long after, I stumbled on Alabaster (a collection of Dancy Flammarion stories. I do believe I've mentioned elsewhere how truly badass is the King County Library System. Respect). So with Threshold I've finally started at the beginning. I apparently like the idea of an albino monster-killer (hence my admiration for Michael ...more
Damecatoe
I knew from the first sentence that I would like Kiernan's writing style. I have gathered 3 post-its on pages that I wanted to copy a quote from or use an as example. Like an example of how the author describes things: when a character is trying to stay very close to a brick wall so she can remain in it's thin line of shade, Kiernan says she "presses herself scrapbook rosepetal flat." There are dozens of descriptions like that, but that particular one caught my fancy.

The first character we meet
...more
Little Mike
I found this book by accident while browsing the horror section of my local bookstore. After reading the excerpt on the back of the book, I decided to pick it up.

The first thing that you'll notice within the first 10 pages is the author's horrible prose. With each paragraph containing maybe 4 rambling, run-on sentences, it was very difficult to get past her style of writing. That combined with her abhorrence of the spacebar or even a hyphen and her proclivity for creating her own words by joinin
...more
Courtney
This is almost a 4.5. I found the writing in this novel much better than that of her previous novel, Silk. While she still employs the dangling descriptions and compound words that tend to annoy me, it isn't as rampant in this novel. The characterizations are more complete and a bit less stereotypical than in Silk, and the story was creative and innovative, pulling from Beowulf and paleontology. What I found most compelling was the unexpected ending (I won't give it away...suffice it to say, it ...more
Chris
I can't decide if I liked this book or if I hated it. On one hand the narrator has a lyrical almost musical voice that leads the reader in a creepy little dance long before any of the monsters rear their heads. That on top of the interesting concept of monsters older than time set into the fossil record and, even deeper concepts of belief and faith and distortion of them into many things, makes the story compelling and pushes the reader forward. The problem lies in the authors odd way of phrasin ...more
Dan Henk
A major letdown. I've now read 3 books by Caitlin. The first, Silk, was a blurry, scattered mess. It was also her first book, and read like it. The one I had recommended to me was Daughter of the Hounds. I read that, and it was so good, I even thought about giving Silk a little more leeway. Then I read Threshold.
It starts out favorably enough. It keeps on going steadily, sometimes more interesting, sometimes less, but mostly building up tension towards what seems more and more like a good payoff
...more
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