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The Very Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  156 ratings  ·  62 reviews
With an introduction by Richard Kadrey

“One of our essential writers of dark fiction.”
New York Times

Caitlín R. Kiernan is one of dark fantasy and horror’s most acclaimed and influential short fiction writers. Her powerful, unexpected stories shatter morality, gender, and sexuality: a reporter is goaded by her toxic girlfriend into visiting sadistic art exhibits; a countess
Paperback, 432 pages
Published March 1st 2019 by Tachyon Publications (first published February 18th 2019)
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Sumit RK
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
“No story has a beginning, and no story has an end. Beginnings and endings may be conceived to serve a purpose, to serve a momentary and transient intent, but they are, in their truer nature, arbitrary and exist solely as a construct of the mind of men.”

Caitlín Kiernan is regarded as a master of dark fantasy and a collection of the ‘best’ of her stories sounded really interesting. The book is a collection of 20 short stories, each with different theme and setting. Though classified as horror,
Robin Bonne
3.475 Stars. I rated my enjoyment of each story and found the average to come up with my overall rating for this anthology of Caitlín R. Keirnan. This was my first time reading Keirnan, and I did not know what to expect. This was marketed to me as horror, but there are a broad range of stories in this anthology, and the majority of them do not have horror themes.

Andromeda Among the Stones- 2/5
La Peau Verte- 4/5
Houses Under the Sea- 3/5
Bradbury Weather- 3/5
A Child’s Guide to Hollow Hills- 5/5
Mel (Epic Reading)
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Horror is certainly the right genre for many of these stories. Some really amazing ideas and writing within the 20 short stories compiled here. There is soo much lesbian representation in these stories; which isn't surprising if you know that Caitlin Kiernan is a transgender lesbian. My favourite part of most of the stories is that the f/f relationships are so well portrayed and have a beautiful depth to them.
A small note about each of the stories is below:
Story #1 - Andromeda Among the Stones
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
5 stars--amazing collection. I've been reading Caitlin Kiernan since her babygoth horror days in the '90s. Her early collection, Tales of Pain and Wonder, is one of my favorite books.

This collection contains 20 of Kiernan's short stories (and she's quite prolific as a short story writer--which is, in my opinion, her strongest form). About half of them I've read before in other places. Each story is fabulous, and it shows how far she's come as a writer. The threads of horror are still there, but
Baal Of
Apparently one of the things said about Kiernan's writing is that those who love it, and those who don't, describe it in the same terms. I have little to add to the already numerous reviews and descriptions: most of the stories don't really go anywhere, they are snapshots in time, out of sequence character studies, densely lyrical, the beautiful language is key, etc. So it comes down to personal preference. I have begun to realize that in addition to the phrase "examines the human condition" as ...more
Elli (Kindig Blog)
Jun 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
‘It’s just the way I tell stories, right. You know that. I start at the beginning. I don’t leave stuff out.’ If only, Caitlin R Kiernan, if only!

For me a good short story is still complete in some way, it’s a stripped-back story or a snapshot of one but it still needs to be coherent and immersive in its own right. Although it may not have all of the elements of a novel it still needs something to pull a reader in - whether that’s a compelling main character, an interesting situation, a
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
I am not quite sure how to start with this review except to say this book was not for me. There were a few good stories but the rest had me wishing the book was over. They were strange or I just lacked interest. I’ll be giving this 2 stars because of the few good stories.
I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley

actual rating: 3.5

You tell him, By your own words, mister, we see thou art an evil man, and we, too, are surely out and about and up to no good, as you'll have guessed, and we are no better than thee, and so there is balance.

I enjoyed this book but it is a LONG book and therefore took me about two weeks to read, and that was with me trying to hurry because I'd already missed the publishing date! Looking back I can't think of any stories here that
Nick Cato
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
These are 20 previously published stories, so this might not be of much interest to long time fans. But for this newbie, it has made me a fan, and a big one at that. Kiernan is easily one of the best writers of weird fiction working today. Full review 1/28/19 at
Andreea (Infinite Text)
Mar 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbtq2
The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan was not my introduction to Kiernan, as I have encountered one of her short stories in the Unicorn Anthology, and I simply devoured her novel The Drowning Girl. She’s an incredible writer, one whom I greatly admire for her dark atmosphere and unique fantastical cosmic horror. This collection includes some of her best short works over the years ranging from 2005-present day. As readers we get glimpses into Kiernan’s growth as an author in the last fourteen years ...more
Micah Castle
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Up until reading The Very Best of Caitlín R. Keirnan, I’ve only read Keirnan’s book, Black Helicopters, and her short stories “Fish Brides,” “On the Reef,” and “The Transition of Elizabeth Haskings” in the anthology Weirder Shadows over Innsmouth. I enjoyed them all, but as I read and finished The Very Best, I became entirely engrossed by Kiernan’s prose and her work.

Every story in The Very Best is as good as the last: “Andromeda Among the Stones,” “A Child’s Guide to the Hollow Hills,” “In View
Jun 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, fiction, sf
Like most collections this runs from the mediocre to the sublime. The extremely introspective story of a film critic watching a horror film would make a good insomnia cure while the delightful The Maltese Unicorn with its obscene MacGuffin is a wonderful horror homage to Hammett with Natalie Beaumont replacing Ned Beaumont from The Glass Key. An extremely varied collection, even if I think some aren't that good, others may disagree. If you enjoy dark fantasies, you'll find some stories worth ...more
Skylar DeVoe
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very beautiful prose throughout. A wonderful mixture of fantasy, sci-fi, steampunk, urban fantasy, and horror. However at times, it very much feels like a literary version of edging and I finished several of the stories with a lingering feeling of frustration. I wanted to give it three stars for that but the stories are all so well-written, even the ones that left me unsatisfied, that I couldn’t do it. And I suppose, in keeping with my metaphor, it made the stories I felt were more complete ...more
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Review Copy

If you're looking for the fantastic, the strange, something out of the ordinary, stop right here. Caitlin R. Kiernan is one of the very best and this is volume collects just some of the very of her short stories stories.

She will drop you into a scene, guide you around and then exit. Was that stage left? Who knows? And best of all, none of her stories seem alike. That's what sets her apart from the pack. Did I mention she's smart?

She's a gifted author as well.

If you've never read

2.95/5 stars

When I finally went to bed, the nightmares found me, as they almost always do, and for a while, at least, I wasn’t alone.
— Bradbury Weather

Last year I stumbled upon Agents of Dreamland while scrolling through my book shop's website and really just downloaded it on a whim. I loved this novella, it was trippy and weird and I knew I had to read more by Caitlín R. Kiernan. When I saw that this collection of twenty previously published stories was available on NetGalley, I immediately

Jan 29, 2019 added it
Shelves: did-not-finish
My first DNF of the year
Jan 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This book reminded me why I don’t like reading short stories; but I don’t mean that in a negative sense.

I have always tried to put my finger on why I don;t enjoy reading certain short stories, but love others. I have read and enjoyed all of Stephen King’s short story collections, love Shirley Jackson”s stories and one of my favorite books ever is I Robot, by Isaac Asimov. I have read countless other short story collections and enjoyed then immensely. But, hand me a copy of The New Yorker Short
Amy Layton
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This collection of short stories is detailed, strange, and atmospheric. Nothing in these stories remain unquestioned. Romance is questioned, as is knowledge and power. Art suggests ambiguity, as do films and tomes. Nothing exists within a vacuum, and everything is strange and unnatural.

These stories are perfect for those who enjoy the creepy, weird, and strange. These stories are smart, written with great detail and observation. Not to mention, of course, the style and voice! Each character was
Joe Karpierz
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the things I've tried to do in recent years is expand my reading horizons. Yes, the bulk of my reading is science fiction, but even within that genre I've been branching out to works that in the past I would not have had an interest in reading. Many of these works are much more literary in nature, and while I don't necessarily seek them out, I don't shy away from them either (It could be argued that science fiction has been heading in a literary direction for years, and I don't

Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In all fairness, I was already a fan. If you are one who has never read CRK, this is the book I would recommend to get you to join me.

This is essentially the definitive collection for me. There's no shortage of collections of her short fiction work but this one absolutely delivers on the "Very Best of..." promise and, despite being the type of fan who complains that his favourite story isn't in the bunch, the picks are as good as you could hope for.

All of the stories included are Kiernan at the
Oct 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Caitlin R. Kiernan gets recommended to me a lot. Probably because her stories seem to be mostly Lovecraftian weird fiction and I typically love that style of fiction. I've read her books The Red Tree and Agents of Dreamland and somewhat enjoyed them...until the end. I have yet to read a book by this author that feels like it has an actual ending. They just kind of end. I have enjoyed her short fiction so I was excited to try The Very Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan.

First of all I want to say that I
Logan Noble
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My review from
A best of collection is a wonderful concept. Especially if you’re writer Caitlín R. Kiernan, who has published over two hundred and fifty short stories. This is her third ‘Best of’ collection, which speaks to the absolute wealth of her bibliography. For The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan, Tachyon and the author decided to draw stories from her limited-edition publications. This is great, because it gives us an opportunity to experience works that we may have
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bracing collection of Kiernan's dark fantasy or weird fiction (an often fantastical blend of fantasy, horror, and any other genre that works for the story). In addition to her work in comics, I previously read The Ape's Wife and Other Stories--a short story collection like this one. Several stories from it are reprised here, including the title story. Kiernan is very prolific: in addition to several novels, there have been over a dozen short fiction collections.

The subjects are varied and
Rebeca F.
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a collection of around 20 short stories (I think!) by Caitlín Kiernan. I preordered as soon as it was available and was so excited when I got it a while ago as nowadays she's one of my favourite writers (after The drowning girl which is such a masterpiece) and it didn't dissapoint. The stories are powerful and exquisitely written and range from gothic and dark fiction to horror, ghostings (sort of!), sci fi and dark dark fairy tales. As usual it's hard to classify but I love that and I'm ...more
Robert Hudder
May 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
There are some really striking stories in this volume. I think it is unfair to label Kiernan as a weird fiction or horror writer. I am sure that it is a fine way to describe her. Unfortunately, that means that all the fiction readers will ignore her.

There are plenty of writers who write genre fiction but it seems that still the stink of stigma stands. And that is too bad. To discuss the human condition sometimes means to go outside and contrast that with inhumans.

The ammonite violin, In view
Barbara McEwen
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I didn't get a physical copy but this collection is bang for your buck, you get a lot of short stories. It is interesting how the stories all have a Caitlin Kiernan vibe despite being different. I think I could identify one of her stories anywhere now. There is always mystery and suspense and sometimes she tantalizingly leaves you wondering (I imagine this may frustrate or annoy some people). I have no doubt that she could have made full novels of a lot of these ideas but you get the feeling she ...more
Pamela Scott

copy from @TachyonPub and voluntarily reviewed

I don’t think I’ve read the author before so didn’t know what to expect. I found this a very mixed bag of stories. I loved some and others really didn’t work me. This made a disjointed and disappointing reading experience. I expected this collection to be full of horror stories judging from the blurb but struggled to find one story to fit into this category. The stories that fell short for me included A Season
Evelyn Lee
Nov 09, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was a slog for me, but, let's start with the good news...Ms. Kiernan writes beautifully with descriptions that made me feel I could touch the subject I was reading about, and set the scenes so clearly even when describing fantastical worlds. This collection is presented chronologically, and her writing changed very much. I preferred the "decorative" descriptions of the earlier work. Her later stories were still descriptive but so much sparer, so all the delight was gone for me in ...more
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection feels like good introduction to Kiernan's work. I came to it having read a handful of her short stories in various anthologies and one of her novels, looking to dive further into her catalog. The stories collected here left me with a much better grasp on Kiernan's style and a deeper appreciation for the breadth of her talent. In particular I enjoyed her stories dealing in cosmic/Lovecraftian horror - Andromeda Among the Stones, Houses Under the Sea, Galapagos and The Fish Bride ...more
The Captain
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandon-ship
Ahoy there mateys! This author has been on my list to read for quite some time. So when I saw that Tachyon Publications had a short story collection, I was excited to read this. I wish I could say that I loved this but unfortunately I think the author's short fiction doesn't work for me. I only read 31% of the book and didn't really like any of the stories. I found some of the imagery interesting but overall was dissatisfied. I definitely believe that that this is a case of me and not the ...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)