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Tales of Pain and Wonder

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  267 ratings  ·  18 reviews
This collection of twenty-two short stories by the author of Daughter of Hounds and Alabaster, originally published in 2000, firmly established Caitlín R. Kiernan as one of the preeminent voices in dark fantasy today. Through a cycle of interconnected narratives, Kiernan unflinchingly explores a surreal world where the fantastic and the mundane are never separated by more ...more
Paperback, 436 pages
Published July 1st 2016 by PS Publishing (first published February 18th 2000)
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Karen
Nov 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my most favorite books. I think about the stories contained within this edition often. It's almost as if Caitlin R.Kiernan was possessed by lonely but omnipotent spirits when she was writing this. Jimmy DeSade and Salmagundi are fascinating characters that are woven in and out of this collection like lethal, dark threads.
Paige Ellen Stone
It is no secret that CRK is in the top three of my favorite writers in any genre. This volume is a collection of mostly previously published short works. It is for the fan and it is for the intrepid explorers of the painful and wonderful. I am in no way capable of truly reviewing this book, other than to say it is, in and of itself, an admirable life's work. However, it only covers approximately a five year stretch of her writing, the later half of the '90's. CRK's writing is so imaginable, so ...more
Traci
Jul 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of these were good, others were just sort of there. Of course, when I got close to the end, I realized there's an "alternative table of contents", putting the stories in chronological order, rather than publication order. Wish I'd seen that before I had started the book, as I was confused by some of the jumping around; one story in particular, I remember thinking "wait, isn't she dead?" about a character.


Lauren
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recent
Cool but not for me. I think maybe I'm just not that into horror fiction? But the connecting theme of this collection is actually the shared setting, and it's really dope to read about the people living in this sort of goth-junkyard-world she's created. All of the characters exist in this same sort of impoverished and destitute goth/punk scene, and it honestly reminds me a lot of so many real people/places I know. It's a cool thing to bring into horror fiction, particularly w/ the notable ...more
Ruby Hollyberry
Arrived in the mail today and finished today. Wow. Wasn't cheap and was worth every penny. Many of the stories are connected to the series of books I have (actually I think all her work is connected to every other piece). But every story was special. This lady has more talent and has polished that talent more than anyone else I can think of in any genre who is currently writing. Can't recommend enough but NOT for the squeamish. I had to read some of the stories again after finishing the book, ...more
Jim
Dec 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read. A colection of oddly connected stories. Much of this reads like out of order fragments of a novel. This is horror fiction, but it's not so much frightening as disturbing. I will have to try one of her novels.

Terence
An unremittingly bleak collection of short stories but worth reading.

Kiernan's prose is beautiful, and she's a master at leaving the reader wondering if anything supernatural has really occurred.
J. Libby
Kiernan is one of my favorite authors, but this collection didn't gel for me. She's a genius at poetic prose, but these often spiraled out into abstract noise. Following the thread of plot was very difficult on some of these. There were some gems and bright spots(Postcards From the King of Tides, Anamorphosis, Breakfast in the House of the Rising Sun, and The Last Child of Lir were among my favorites) and the author provides two table of contents to hang the collection theme more tightly ...more
James Ranger
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this is what writing is all about. Take notes, wannabe authors
Jonathan
Jul 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended
This book is challenging to get a copy of unless you want to fork over $50 or so for a used Library copy, or even more for a new one. It also is at times challenging to read, though ultimately worth it. Individually, the stories don't always have massive impact, but together, combined in the collection, it's extremely impressive. Characters return from one story to the next. The overall plot is vague, and those expecting a set of traditional monster stories may be disappointed. Several stories ...more
Phil On The Hill
Caitlin R Kiernan is an author whose work I have skirted around over the years. As much as anything, because I was a little unsure where to start with her work and that it may have been too feminist in its leanings. Following an email exchange with a friend, she suggested I started with Tales of Pain and Wonder
This is a collection of short stories although laid out in the sequence they were written, there is an alternate sequence that places the stories in chronological order, which I followed.
...more
Matt Spencer
This original short story collection of Kiernan's appears to be out of print, which is a shame, as the author's star has only risen higher over the years as her talents continue to evolve. If you're a new or old fan of Kiernan, I urge you to snatch this up whenever you can find a used copy in your price-range, 'cause it's a keeper. Kiernan has a prose-style all her own, breaking many rules with grace and confidence, the hypnotic effect of which can best be described as "Painting pictures that ...more
Audrey
What a terrible, cruel, devastating and amazing book.

A collection of mostly inaccessible stories that don't care at all whether they're ever accessed or by who or what, that come together in a whip-stitched panoply of truly Kiernan things: transhumanism; the lie of gender; wet, gasping blind moist things; the world beneath the bricks and the dust; drowning girls and rotting metal.

If nothing else, it does what it says on the front cover: these are tales of pain and wonder, but you're never
...more
Steven
Mar 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rereads
As with several of the books on this list, this is a re-read. I haven't read Silk, or Murder of Angels, but from the novels and short stories I've read Kiernan has a feel for the rhythm and meter of language which few writers these days do, along with a gift for the telling phrase. She's moved away from the compound words she uses freely in these stories, which in some ways is a shame.

This is an older edition, with a cover image she despised.
Allison Floyd
It took me awhile to get into this collection (of which I admittedly didn't read all), but get into it I did, from the sparkly corrosion so artfully rendered in Kiernan's prose to the compellingly vile Jimmy DeSade. I still vastly prefer Kiernan's most recent work, but this was a fun little jaunt through teenage angst and things that go bump in the night. A is for Atmosphere!
Erryn
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book, I love the stories. I adore the characters. I am spellbound by the way Caitlin R. Kiernan uses words to describe feelings, surroundings and the thought process of her characters.
Casondra
Feb 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my comfort books. Kiernan's beautiful prose is addicting.
Barry
Jun 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At least, the 2001 edition that I own was worth five stars. It's quite annoying, honestly, that there are different editions of this book...with DIFFERENT CONTENTS therein!
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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)