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Threshold (Chance Matthews #1)

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,176 Ratings  ·  115 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.
ebook, 336 pages
Published January 2nd 2007 by Penguin Group (USA) (first published November 1st 2001)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,709)
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Allison Floyd
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
Jason
Dec 04, 2011 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2010
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
Juushika
Feb 15, 2010 Juushika rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: status-owned
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
Rachel
Jan 15, 2008 Rachel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Sam
Apr 09, 2009 Sam rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Damon
Jan 02, 2016 Damon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
An entertaining wee story. Enjoyable but way too drawn out.
James
Jul 30, 2015 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm giving this book three stars for now because it's one of those rare books that leaves me confused as to how I feel about it (that is, I don't know if I really, really liked it or really, really disliked it). This is the second of Kiernan's books that I've read (the first being "Silk") and for some reason it didn't provide the same emotional oomph to me as her first novel did (though it's certainly more tightly written). Perhaps nostalgia has something to do with this: I started reading "Silk ...more
Angie
Dec 14, 2011 Angie rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
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
Kate
Dec 19, 2011 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Heidi Ward
I always love Kiernan, and am going to go 4.5 stars on this one. As always, her approach is unique (trilobite palentology and elder things) and her characters flawed but relatable. There were scares, and gore, and an actual resolution of the main journey. My only complaint is that Kiernan's generally beautiful prose is still a tiny bit of a work-in-progress in this early novel, and she sprinkles the text with dozens of quasi-Joycean portmanteu words, which I found drew unnecessary attention to t ...more
Jett Bailey
Jan 31, 2016 Jett Bailey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of those rare, rare books that I just couldn't finish. The plot meandered to the point where it wasn't really even present or necessary. The characters were whiny wusses wallowing in young adult angst.

The writing was...wow, it was just awful; I imagine that when Ms. Kiernan was a young writer someone noticed her bizarre stream of consciousness style and mash-up adjectives and told her it was "quirky" or "clever". Constantly reading words like "icywet", pastysharp" and "countrydark"
...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
Jeremy Preacher
May 20, 2015 Jeremy Preacher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
This is exactly what I wanted out of the short story collection To Charles Fort, With Love - a full-scale novel featuring some fascinating characters and a terribly effective creeping horror. I'd encountered Dancy Flammarion as well in the fantastic Alabaster: Wolves, and I was delighted to see her here.

The paleontology made a great frame. Kiernan obviously knows her stuff, and it worked well to introduce a bunch of different concepts without spelling everything out entirely. And her depiction o
...more
Marie Michaels
May 04, 2015 Marie Michaels rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, I've never read anything quite like this. Vaguely Lovecraftian paleontologist contemporary fantasy horror...? There are some genuinely creepy moments that made me regret reading this just before bed. Kiernan has a great sense of writing looming horror without resorting to gore. There are so many interesting elements that tied together in unexpected and interesting ways: Dancy's backstory, Chance's grandparents' discoveries, Deacon's history of psychic phenomena. I understand Kiernan has oth ...more
Andrew
May 01, 2016 Andrew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I found this book very slow to get into though did start to have hope when it picked up about three parts in when it seemed to move from a supernatural chiller to something approaching a investigative mystery type thing when seemingly some sort of revelation was likely in regard to the mysterious albino girl who is central to the book...
However the ending jinxed all that and as such the book ended as a bit cop out...what I will say however is the writing is very good with any sinister creatures
...more
Elke
Dec 08, 2008 Elke rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, sold, horror, review, b4gr
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 did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: abandoned
THis book was so depressing, I didn't make it past the second chapter
Jason
Dec 06, 2014 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, horror
I find Caitlin Kiernan's books frustrating; she creates brilliant stories, and Threshold's story, about the discovery of fossils that of trilobites that might not necessarily be extinct, and connected to some Cthulhu-esque supernatural events. The details show she definitely knows her paleontology and her way around the natural world. She creates horrific settings and scenes, and the ending for Threshold leaves you wondering what exactly happened.

However, her characters are inevitably horrible
...more
Jessica
Jul 30, 2010 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-fantasy, horror
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 really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 16, 2012 Evilynn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, 2012
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
Jun 28, 2011 Jennifer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stephanie
Apr 03, 2013 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2013
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
Oct 03, 2012 Doug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 30, 2009 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Caitlín Rebekah Kiernan (born 26 May 1964) is the author of science fiction and dark fantasy works, including ten novels; many comic books; and more than two hundred published short stories, novellas, and vignettes. She is also the author of scientific papers in the field of paleontology.

(from Wikipedia)
More about Caitlín R. Kiernan...

Other Books in the Series

Chance Matthews (2 books)
  • Low Red Moon

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