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Daughter of Hounds

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They are the Children of the Cuckoo. Stolen from their cribs and concealed in shadows to be raised by ghouls, they are now changelings in service to the creatures who rule the world Below and despise the world Above. Any human contact is strictly forbidden and punishment is swift and severe for those who disobey.

Raised by her widower father, Emmie Silvey has a precocious personality and striking yellow eyes that have left her a solitary child. But that changes when two women enter her life-one who stalks her, one who haunts her dreams- both insisting that her entire life is a lie and warning her of an encroaching darkness.

448 pages, Paperback

First published January 2, 2007

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About the author

Caitlín R. Kiernan

407 books1,569 followers
Caitlín Rebekah Kiernan is an Irish-born American published paleontologist and author of science fiction and dark fantasy works, including ten novels, series of comic books, and more than two hundred and fifty published short stories, novellas, and vignettes.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 102 reviews
Profile Image for Becky.
1,384 reviews1,650 followers
September 2, 2015
FINALLY, it's over.



I've read some crap books this year, and I don't think this was the worst of them, but it sure the hell takes the 2015 Draggingest Ass Book Award. This shit just would not fucking end. Every time I thought, "Here we go, now we're getting somewhere..." it would just take a hard left back into "This is a dream. I'm dreaming. I'm going to wake up now and this will all have been a dream. You're a dream. I'm a dream. Everything's a dream."

Say "dream" again. Say it a-motherfucking-gain.


I started getting impatient pretty early on, and then outright annoyed, and then I stepped into the GET TO THE DAMN POINT zone and just stayed there until the end, which I had hoped would redeem the tedium of the rest of the book, but didn't.

I still have no fucking idea why I read nearly 450 pages of endless description written in prose that tries way too hard, shitty characters that I hoped continually would just die already so that I wouldn't have to listen to them being shitty anymore, and near constant references and claims of dreams.

I read this whole book thinking that Sparrow had... I dunno, some sort of purpose in the book, but if she did, I still don't know what the hell it was. I thought that maybe there'd be a revelation that another character was her, just using a different name, and that maybe she'd be important to the story, but it doesn't seem that way. But hey, it's not like Sparrow's the only pointless character in the book. That's EVERY character. Even the main characters had no goddamn purpose to being in this shit.

All of the characters sounded like the exact same shitty 14 year old who just discovered curse words having a Veruca Salt level meltdown. Only with guns. And I fucking hated every single one of them.

If there was an actual story in there, I blinked and missed it. Ditto if there was a point. This was 400+ pages of a whole lot of fucking nothing except shitty characters saying shitty things while being even shittier and refusing to accept what's right in front of their face. That kind of thing makes me... irrationally angry. I HATE books that can only exist because of stupidity, ignorance, and misunderstandings that people refuse to address. Also, when people just REFUSE to answer direct questions because "there isn't time" to answer but then will go on for fucking EVER about unimportant drivel just so that the plot has to be dragged out another 100 million pages.

Hate hate hate.

Stupidity in books make me stabby.


Again, not the worst book I've read this year, but definitely one of the more aggravating ones.

Ugh. I'm going to bed. The end.
Profile Image for Sjgomzi.
239 reviews132 followers
November 8, 2022
A brilliant and action packed finale to her Deacon Silvey trilogy. This book gets better and better every time I read it. Kind of like a Kiernan’s greatest hits collection. The ghouls , Madame Terpsichore, The Bailiff, the underground labyrinth beneath Rhode Island’s Swan Point cemetery, The Children Of The Cuckoo, Lovecraft’s Yellow House at 135 Benefit St, time manipulation, mini universes captured inside snow globes… all kinds of cool shit! Kiernan’s imagination and brilliant prose are on full display here. Can be read as a stand-alone, but my recommendation is to start with Threshold and then read Low Red Moon before tackling this. You will get so much more out of it. All three books are very different, and are all fantastic.
Profile Image for colleen the convivial curmudgeon.
1,155 reviews296 followers
October 13, 2015
So, we read this as a group read because we didn't realize, at the start, that it was the end of a trilogy. Now, I have actually read Threshold on my own a few years back, but I've ever read Low Red Moon and some reviews say this is a more direct sequel to LRM.

I say that by way of explaining that I felt like I was missing some things. That there was information about the Children of the Cuckoo and the Hounds and the Bailiff that I was meant to already know which I didn't.

That said, I felt like I was able to follow the story well enough, but I did wonder if maybe it'd have some more depth, for me, if I had read the prior story.

***

Now that that's out of the way - to the story itself...

Mostly it just didn't work for me. Now, as I said, I'm not sure how much of that is because of the above, but I think some of it was just the story itself. We spend a lot of time with two different stories - that of Emmie and Soldier - and we know that they're going to come together, and they do piece by piece, but by the time they finally do come together there's only about 100 pages left to go, and it just felt like they spent far too long to get where we were going.

And then, when we finally got there, I can't say I was at all happy with the resolution - if you can even call it that, because if felt unresolved.

I wanted more from it. I wanted

After all that time with the set-up, and then it feels sort of unresolved at the end - especially for the finale of a trilogy.

***

The only other comment I really had is that both Emmie and Soldier both have a really annoying habit of not letting other people talk - especially when other people are trying to explain something or tell them something. "Shut up, I don't want to hear it" or "this isn't even real" or whatever.

They did that thing where they're looking for answers and want to know "the truth", but then never want to let people fucking talk and actually tell them anything.

It was really fucking annoying.



***

I did think it was interesting, in a way, the way they were sort of similar, personality wise.

And I get that Emmie is , but I've never heard an 8-year-old curse so damn much.

I'm no slacker when it comes to cussing, but I did get tired of "fuck this, fuck that, and fuck every other fucking thing" every other fucking sentence.


Profile Image for J.J..
152 reviews44 followers
July 17, 2023
Man this just absolutely fuckin' rips I don't even know what to tell you. A witch's brew of unabashed pulp mechanics indebted to a long history of weird fiction tropes that just burns and crackles across the pages like a hydrogen star in the night, it's really charming to see Kiernan just go full thrust into what they love and write something completely heart on sleeve like this; the whole thing embodies the actual Mythos parts of the Cthulhu mythos, in that it's really pulled to the side of the HPL-ethos that emphasizes fantasy. The story itself is almost folklore - it reads like someone threading this wild, Biblical-scale yarn, almost to the point where some of its more grandiose and psychedelic sections seem nearly improvised, like an old sage is telling you a long winded tale of legend around a campfire and changing and tweaking the story as they see fit to tell it [which fits a lot here with the novel's themes of dreams, dimensional travel, and changing the outcomes of the future and past]. The prose is as over the top and stylish as you'd expect from a Lovecraftian ethos, the continuation of the Silvey family's story is applied perfectly here, fully establishing the world drawn in the first two as a complete universe even when not everything is left answered and many things, appropriately for cosmic horror, remain left in the dark.

When talking to a friend about it I described it as Twin Peaks (very much including "The Return", though this was years before it) meets Lovecraft meets the scintillating heat of a stylish crime blockbuster of the Tarantino-esque sort, an intersection of influences which should give you an idea of who its sensibilities might appeal to well enough. But it's also Kiernan; a sharply conceived narrative bleeding with empathy for its flawed yet incredibly well drawn central characters, overflowing with rich atmosphere and incredibly vivid detail in its twisted fairy tale imagery and with worldbuilding so captivating and constantly evolving that it puts most other modern sff novels to shame, as expected from most of their works. It's not perfect and some of the sequencing choices of scenes here are questionable, but to an extent it reflects the novel's mythic malleability, so I can't complain about it too much. If you want a completely enthralling genre thriller which takes cues from as many angles from the pulp spectrum as you can think of and threaded into a story this madcap and wild, then look no further. I'd recommend reading "Threshold" and "Low Red Moon" first, seeing as there is a lot here that calls back to and completes the other two novels, though it could be read as a standalone well enough. But really, you should read all three anyway.
Profile Image for Juushika.
1,561 reviews166 followers
Read
February 15, 2010
Soldier is a Child of the Cuckoo, stolen from the crib to be raised as a human servant to the ghouls; Emmie Silvey is a strange, yellow-eyed girl plagued by visions. The ghouls are threatened by an outside force, and now Solider and Emmie will come together in a looping road of intrigue and secrets. Ultimately this book has a simple premise, but its winding, looping storytelling complicates both the plot and the writing. Sometimes this style can be frustrating (many scenes end just on the brink of a big reveal), but most of the time it works: the reader is drawn into the mystery and the twisting plot always has a surprise in store. The looping storyline also allows for plentiful characterization, and so despite its otherworldy themes this novel feels realistic and alive. Daughter of Hounds is not my favorite Keirnan novel (that honor belongs to Threshold), but it is another strong offering by a skilled author. I recommend it.
Profile Image for Jason.
1,179 reviews258 followers
February 18, 2010
God I loved this book. This is the 3rd Kiernan book that I have read, Silk and The Red Tree being the first two. I have really enjoyed Kiernan's prose and her character development, no cardboard cutouts here. In this book Kiernan has created a wonderful dark fairytale, filled with ghouls, witches, demons, and elementals, yet it is done in a world that is not far off from being our own. Urban fantasy at it's finest. A wonderful little girl is the protagonist and her wit and maturity are the heart of this story. This is a very fast page turner as their is always something happening moving the story forward. This is a well written dark fairy-tale that will appeal to any dark fantasy or horror fan. I highly recommend this book and suggest you take a look into the wonderful writing of Caitlin Kiernan.
Profile Image for Gori Suture.
Author 27 books34 followers
April 10, 2010
From the moment I started reading, I was spellbound. The colorful characters -- Emmie Silvey, Saben White, Soldier, Deacon, Pearl, and Odd Willie -- stepped right off the page, handed me a cup of sludgy tea, and dragged me off to a dark world where monsters from the Irish mythos ruled my every thought for days. Kiernan creates a dark fantasy world were little girls might just be what goes bump in the night, and reality isn’t what it always seems. The story paints a grim picture of an ongoing battle between changelings and hounds. The main characters, Soldier a hit woman for the ghouls and Emmie, a strange little girl, both seem doomed from the start, and I was never sure whom I should be rooting for. Truly a unique take on some classic monsters chock full of unpredictable twists and turns!
Profile Image for Annie.
72 reviews24 followers
April 10, 2009
LOVED it! This is my favorite of hers I've read so far. It has a depth that I don't think any of her previous books quite reached - there's more explanation of what's going on as it happens. Because of this, it didn't have as much of the looming creepy feeling to it that I loved in Threshold and Low Red Moon, but it's SUCH a satisfying read. And mad props for having an awesome little-kid main character. Emmie is awesomely smart and sarcastic, and just fun to read about. Caitlin R. Kiernan rocks, plain and simple.
Profile Image for John Wiswell.
Author 41 books428 followers
July 23, 2021
Half Horror story about a kid haunted by weird events, and half Urban Fantasy hunt-athon. It's an interesting hybrid book.

Emmie Silvey is a kid who's always noticed unusual things in the world, and now they're noticing her. She's attracting strange figures - maybe even demons. She is unsafe in her own home and doesn't even know it yet.

Soldier is a bitter seen-it-all heroine in a leather jacket, who exists to do dark magic deeds, deliver contracts, and get the job done. She's the standard Urban Fantasy badass who is destined to do little more than fight and sacrifice.

The two are on a collision course. Unfortunately their paths cross too late, and with too little bonding. They could've been very meaningful to each other. Instead, you'll probably like one half of this story better, depending on which tropes you prefer. I enjoyed the kid getting entrenched in weirdo Horror, myself.
627 reviews13 followers
February 4, 2014
I enjoyed the act of reading this, but underwhelmed by the end state of having read this. It's like hearing your aunt tell a wonderful tale full of adventure, and then she says "so that happened," and gets up to pour herself another drink.

And you say, "no wait, what happened?"

And she says, "exactly," and wiggles her fingers spookily so she can exit the room before you ask any more questions.
Profile Image for Doris.
1,918 reviews
January 8, 2017
First read November 8, 2011
Second read January 7, 2017
I am halfway through and still trying to figure out the point...

Eventually I find that Soldier, a Child of the Cuckoo, is the true focus of the story, even though it loops around and never focuses on her except at certain points. It was a good story, and had a really good ending, but the looping tale made it difficult to comprehend and tie all the tale's pieces together.

We do learn that Soldier is one of the stolen children, although we never quite learn why children are stolen from the crib. It seems that the ghouls, the beings that raised the children, raise them for servants, but it also seems that the reason was to satisfy some dark prediction.

Also enter Emmie Silvey, a strange, yellow-eyed girl who is plagued by weird visions. She is the child of someone, who I got the impression had done some major damage to the ghouls in the past, but is also the focus of a prophesy.

The third major character is the wizard's child, Hester (aka Pearl), who is the one being who can move freely between the worlds, at least until Emmie shows up.

Even though the story was complicated due to the twisting of the plot, it drew me in and, even though it felt as though several big points were missed, I found this to be a fascinating story.

The fact that there were big gaps in the plots and the explanations kept this from being a "5 star", but I recommend it to readers of fantasy.

2017 update: Having received a copy as a Christmas gift, I felt that it deserved a reread. I was more involved in the reading this time, and saw several things / events / actions that were unremarkable the first time. I did like the resolution, and even though it still has gaps, the second reading allowed me to resolve a few issues, especially Soldier.
299 reviews15 followers
February 24, 2016
I write this with a bit of sadness. This is the last of Kiernan's novels I had left to read. I read her most recent novel, The Red Tree, first. Since my books are packed, it will be a while before I can find it and read it again, which I will do. I was stunned by The Red Tree, knew it was genius but could not appreciate it.
To this book. If I could give it ten stars, I would. It seems silly to rate it. It is beyond compare and by that I mean while it was clear that her previous novels showed that she was brilliant, clearly influenced by Lovecraft and others, with this book she establishes, in my mind, a genre unto itself. NO ONE writes like her. NO ONE tells stories as she does. I won't even try to summarize the plot because that would require giving way too much away. I will say that this is a book that gets in your head and won't leave you alone until you have finished it.
It may put some readers off; those who are looking for an easy read, bad monsters, good monsters, humans in the middle, that sort of stuff. Kiernan writes with such delicious complexity that the reader has to relish her quirks, her jumps in time and just be patient. This book also reveals, if you read her earlier novels, an amazing story arc that reveals Ms Kiernan's in playing with time and the possibilities presented by quantum physics, how many lives do you think you have/could have lived? She is beyond brilliant; she is challenging, mesmerizing and (insert a word here that is much grander than entertaining but not so mundane as amazing). She takes me beyond words. Read her books... all of them.
Profile Image for E. Kimble.
16 reviews2 followers
March 11, 2013
I wanted to like this so much more than I did. The atmosphere's delicious. The brutality can be fantastically matter-of-fact and at its best hits just as hard as it should. Kiernan's prose occasionally veers toward the overdramatic but for the most part fits around her story as snugly as it ought, which is why I was somewhat surprised to find how little I cared about what happened next. :(

Mild curiosity powered me through to the end, but the fate of the characters never concerned me. Can't decide whether it's the somewhat murky plot--I've not read the other stories set in this world, so maybe I was supposed to come in with more information than I got?--or the characters themselves. Emmie was too precocious to ever feel like a real girl anywhere near her age. Soldier had flashes of interest, but it felt like the ending just unraveled and invalidated her entire arc. It was a story about children that had maybe three lines that sounded like they came from an actual child, which really muted any impact it might have had. Might still check out something else of Kiernan's, though.

Profile Image for Robert Corbett.
102 reviews14 followers
August 26, 2015
CRK's prose is an impressive instrument, both evocative and lulling as well as precise and pointed. I actually came to her writing through a book that is part of a trilogy she disdains, Blood Oranges, in which nearly all the reverence (and romance) is drained out of an urban fantasy setting. If her blog is anything to go by, what started as satire became a burden, perhaps because satirizing fantastic and supernatural fiction runs thin, since a primary point of the genre is escape. (There is potential for the sort of refractive comment on life-and-how-we-live-it that SF claims, but at some point a reader needs to buy into magicked swords and evil dealing vamps for the stakes to matter; otherwise, the readers are simply being mocked.) DoH, like Blood Oranges, takes place in Rhode Island, and there is some paralleling--clearly, B from Blood Oranges is a rewriting of Bailiff from DoH, while alcoholic Soldier a precursor to the heroin addicted Siobhan Quinn, in being at once hero and victim of the story.
Profile Image for Clarice.
279 reviews10 followers
April 1, 2007
The third in the series by Caitlin R. Kiernan, this book is one that surprised me. I've enjoyed many of her other books, but this had a bit of a story and a couple main characters that were even more sympathetic to me than I've noticed before. There's a lot of hope in this book in odd places, and also a lot of interlocking stories that relate to the other two books, Threshold and Low Red Moon of this trilogy. The story also strangely refers to happenings in the other two books (Silk and Murder of Angels) that she wrote that are related but not quite.

It's enjoyable, but for those who enjoy darker fantasy than your usual.
Profile Image for Bea.
263 reviews30 followers
January 9, 2011
It wasn't a bad read, but for me it just didn't flow. A bit disappointed and it is probably not something that I would read again. There was just too much going backwards and forwards and there are no explanations until the very end, and even then things were just glazed over. I have a couple of her other books so I'll still give them a try but hopefully they will be a bit more riveting and forthcoming!
Profile Image for Julie.
Author 13 books31 followers
October 3, 2014
This book was a meal that was slippery and savory, but then expanded in your gut, so that you had to slow down and chew. I became attached to all of the characters, even the "bad" ones. She took a long time to tell what could have been a much shorter story, but I didn't mind because the writing is twisty and sharp and the characters are Dark Crystal muppets...at least in my mind.
Profile Image for Abby.
294 reviews32 followers
November 19, 2018
This was a perplexing book. First off, the author chose to use a few writing devices that I was very unsure about. The book is written in third person in present tense. It sounded normal when there was dialogue or a character was thinking, but when the book would go back to describing the characters in action, it was jarring. I was confused and surprised every time, and it would take a couple of sentences to get me back into the flow of the story. When a character lost consciousness, the sentences would trail off down the page as if the words were melting. It definitely caught my attention if that was the intent, but I wasn't sure if it was merited or really added to the story.

Besides my complaints about writing style, I was not really a fan of the plot. In the beginning, the reader is introduced to a young girl who lives with the ghuls in a very suspenseful scene. However, this character is never talked about again. I think it would have been more powerful, and enabled a stronger connection to the main character, Soldier, if this scene had been a flashback to one of her childhood moments. There are other characters that come across as important but never end up really doing anything.

There was an incredible amount of dark to a very low amount of redemption. I can take violence and inner turmoil if I have characters that I can root for and love. I didn't love any of these characters.

It was an interesting idea, but the characters didn't pull through for me.
8 reviews
February 14, 2021
The mythology here is fantastic, the Ghul have completely fascinated me and their various mechanics/world about them. I’ve read short stories involving the ghoul creatures Caitlin has written about but hadn’t been aware there was so much more. Daughter of Hounds gave life to this insane piece of darkness hiding in creepy houses on creepy hills, and the story involving that psycho changeling Soldier was just bonkers enough to make it realistic in my mind.
15 reviews
May 19, 2021
Great, interesting read

I really like the few Caitlin Kiernan books I’ve read these past few months. The trilogy with the albino twins was really cool and sort of a thriller, but this was more of a well-crafted drama about childhood and families but with monsters and magic. Definitely worth your time - I found it very well-rounded.
Profile Image for Karen.
1,804 reviews1 follower
March 24, 2018
Gritty story of changelings and hounds, demons and things older. Interesting concepts of time bending, but I enjoyed her shorter stories more.
Profile Image for Teresa Lopez.
171 reviews
January 7, 2019
This story pulls the reader in fast. The way Caitlin weaves the story not has the characters questioning the truth, but the reader too. I really enjoyed this book and will check out the others.
Profile Image for Sophia Barsuhn.
428 reviews5 followers
February 19, 2023
The only reason I'm not giving this five stars was because Emmie got on my nerves with her constant brattiness. Other than that, this book was amazing.
79 reviews
April 26, 2022
I had read ‘Daughter of Hounds’ before, I think, a long time ago, but I’m not sure I finished it. In any case, on my re-read I finally read book 1, ‘Threshold’ before re-reading ‘Low Red Moon’ and then this, the conclusion of the trilogy. Following the tragic ending of ‘Low Red Moon’, this is the story of Emmie Silvey, the daughter of Chase and Deacon, born at the end of that book. When we meet her, she is a spooky little 8 year old raised by her traumatised freak dad. Ah, or is she? As those who read previous books in the series know, in this universe there’s a nasty underground world filled with ghouls, who steal children away to fill their ranks. Odd Willie and Soldier are a couple of full on freaks affiliated with the Children of the Cuckoo. They do dirty, bloody work on behalf of their ghoulish bosses. They’re bad to the bone – ah, but are they? At some point, Emmie and Soldier’s paths are going to cross and you know it’s going to get complicated. Or simpler! No, it’s more complicated than you could imagine, maybe too complicated.

Everyone in Kiernan’s books is a laconic, hard-bitten wiseass, unstuck in time from an alternate version of the late 1940s where film-noir writers could use every swear word there is, and use them a lot. (So... certain years of the 90s, I guess.) (Except the people who talk in an almost Shakespearean, over-egged, thesaurus-abusing slick of oil, who generally aren’t to be trusted.) It obviously grates on some people, but I love it. I also am very fond of their characters, and how said characters grow (or don’t) over time. In the earlier books I thought Deacon was a worthless prick, but a compellingly portrayed one, and I really like seeing how he’s adapted to fatherhood and tried against all odds to be a good role model. It’s not easy, especially for a guy like Deacon! Other characters from previous books show up, too, and have also been changed by their horrifying experiences in books 1 and 2 and the intervening years.

Essentially, Kiernan’s appeal is “what if we had the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft, but the characters were actually a lot more textured and gritty and believable than the weird race-scientists or stammering chumps who populate Lovecraft stories?” For many people Steven King fills that role, but I prefer Kiernan. So many double crosses and twists, so many weird flights of pretension that I find utterly charming. Partly it feels like, well, pulp fiction in the 40s sense but also pulp fiction in the trying to be like Tarantino sense. Foul-mouthed hitmen causing scenes at diners, sinister crime bosses, lots of blood, a little bit too pleased with itself and self-aware. Mostly, this one really works for me. But: there is also some stuff with spooky little girls talking in spooky, kind of archaic storybook sentences, and well. That’s just not as scary as Kiernan thinks it is. And that kind of drags, a bit.

I think the explosions of visceral gore and sexual assault are probably going to upset many readers or make them dismiss it as ‘edgelord stuff’, but that whole thing just feels very 90s to me (even though it was published in 2007). You don’t like that stuff, better stay away!

At her best Kiernan is able to conjure up that odd childhood fantasy of magical things just beyond our vision and remind us of how beautiful and terrifying that is when we’re young. I am really glad to have read this trilogy and seeing how their writing has grown (from the very stylised but creative stuff in ‘Threshold’, to the more hard-boiled but still romantic style in books 2 and 3) and I’ll definitely be reading more of their work.

7.5/10
Profile Image for Gordon.
278 reviews9 followers
February 17, 2016
Another quick-pick from the city library, based on a strapline about "Lovecraft with guns", which is accurate in some ways but not others.

The best thing about the book is probably the prose: sometimes lyrical, frequently uncomfortable, with a tendency to see ordinary life through an unsettling lens. Skies hang like something rotten about to burst. Rivers coil like scaled dragons. Both the key protagonists come out with some crackling wisecracks. The whole thing builds tension and pulls you along very effectively, despite they way questions tend to build up faster than answers through most of the book. Though I would warn of extensive cursing and profanity, some characters being unable to complete a sentence without a swear word in it.

Actual supernatural creaters are surprisingly off-page for much of the book, although magic and dream or dream-like sequences are everywhere. Most of it plays like a sort of mafia/gangster thriller in which the mid-level hitmen battle over turf for shadowy masters with obscure motives, but the players here are mostly human changelings rather than ghul or others themselves.

The book does come to a reasonably satisfying conclusion and the body count, while high, was not as bad as I feared. When a book starts with a dedication to an agent "... for whom someday I'll write a happy book" (quoting from memory) you don't expect much in the way of a happy ending.

It's part of a longer series but seems to be readable standalone.

To finally sum up my thoughts on this, I need to explain a little rating game I have. One can classify a book (or frequently an author) on a scale from "Systematiser" through to "Mystic". A +10 systematiser like Julian May or Brandon Sanderson will pause to explain their whole magic or combat system to you, and you suspect they've got index cards with characters stats on them. (David Weber in SF too). Mystical is more along the lines of Henson's Dark Crystal, or Charles Williams - the magic doesn't necessarily make rational sense and there's a tendency to be unsure whether long sections are dream sequences or not, but there's a powerful intuitive compulsion about it all. Mystics have no problem shifting the "rules" of spells to suit the emotional demands of the plot.

Having defined all of that, I think there is a key difference between Kiernan and Lovecraft, from the handful of Lovecraft I've read. He was quite mystic: ultimately, encounters with the supernatural descend into insanity and destruction of logic. Kiernan plays with all the toys - ancient evil beasties and dream sequences and demon summonings - but there is much more of a worked-out human-character plot under it all, and most of the mysteries at least have some kind of explanation sketched by the end. Don't get me wrong - I much prefer this - but if you're a Lovecraft fan it may ultimately be a disappointing comparison.
Profile Image for James.
Author 10 books112 followers
November 1, 2015
This was the 5th Caitlín R. Kiernan novel I've read this year (the other four being, in this order, "Silk," "Threshold," "The Red Tree" and "Low Red Moon"). After the superb "Low Red Moon," I did find this one slightly disappointing, though I still found it more enjoyable than "Threshold" (which I feel is the weakest of this trilogy of sorts). My main issue with it was I just didn't like the characters at all. I read Kiernan's novels more for their style and atmosphere than I do their characterization, but here I found it a bit of a stumbling block, perhaps because this book more than the others seemed very dialogue heavy.

The one issue I had with "Low Red Moon" was that there were multiple scenes in that book where minor characters were trying to explain to the main characters what was going on, only to be met with surliness and an "I don't care" attitude. The same thing happens in this book, with Emmie Silvey being the worst offender: I lost track of all the times where a character was trying to urgently explain something to her and all she would respond with was "Shut up" or "This is only a dream" and so on... after awhile of this I just wanted to reach into the book, give her a shake, and tell her to shut up herself and just pay attention (in her defense, I should add there are other points in the book where she does ask for an explanation and is told that there isn't time for that now). Maybe some people would defend such behavior as realistic: when faced with bizarre events, maybe most people would prefer to remain ignorant. All I can say is if weird shit like this happened in my life and someone appeared who seemed to have an inkling of what was happening, I'd probably at least let them get a word in.

Still, I can't totally knock a book that gives a shout-out to John Bellairs (an underrated writer who is often sadly overlooked by other Weird Fiction/horror readers/writers/theorists). I also thought it was cool that much of the book's action was set in the city of Woonsocket, Rhode Island. I've lived in Woonsocket my entire life, and can think of almost no other book that utilizes it as a setting (even Lovecraft shunned the place, though he did give it a mention in his oft-lamented story "The Horror at Red Hook"). Kiernan's version of it is sketchy but contains some truth (like the references to abandoned mills), but I should say that the city is nowhere near as interesting and grotesque as it's presented here.

Well, I think I might read "Murder of Angels" later this month, then maybe finish off the year with "The Drowning Girl." Having then read most of her "serious" novels, maybe in 2016 I can focus on her short stories next.
Profile Image for Amy Jesionowski.
150 reviews10 followers
December 3, 2013
Each time I've read a book by Caitlin R. Kiernan, I've said to myself, "This is the best one I've read so far." That statement remains true. I enjoy dark fiction and horror - and this is an excellent example.

I don't generally give 5-star ratings; for me, that is a place reserved for those truly great books, the stories you can't forget, that give you that emotional gut punch. Did this book do that? Mmmmm... not quite... However, based on a comparison scale of ratings I generally see on Amazon or GoodReads (e.g., there are SO MANY ebooks I've begun, partially chosen for their 4- and 5-star ratings, that make me exclaim, "Drivel! Who actually *likes* this?!", want to scrub my eyes with bleach, and then, as a delayed reaction, nauseate me when I realize the potential future implications on society when readers either don't recognize or care about the most fundamental grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors - let alone changes in person, plot holes, and just the complete implausibility of story that STOP! Sorry, back to it...), Daughter of Hounds is solid.

In a manner of thinking, this book was actually a first for me. To really get submerged in a story, I usually need to like the protagonist or some other major character. I didn't like any of them. But because of the way they were written, i.e., Emmy and Soldier being so flawed, I felt connected to them. Again, I didn't like them - but I *cared* about what happened to them.

Kiernan has a style of writing I find distinct from any other. I appreciate the vivid scene descriptions and how she is able to so effectively convey such a sense of gloom and despair (it's completely interwoven throughout descriptions, characters, and dialogue). Sure, a character can stop-gap what's coming, but it's not really the end, is it now? And that thought just hangs over your head as you're reading.
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